ChromaDuo: Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald
The Raw and the Cooked (Le Cru et le Cuit) – Stephen Goss
Still the Sea – Stephen Goss
Adagio and Fugue – Christopher William Pierce
Three Pieces for Two Guitars – Christopher William Pierce
Niterói – Roland Dyens
Comme des grands – Roland Dyens
Buy the Album: ChromaDuo – Hidden Waters
Listen to samples: ChromaDuo – Hidden Waters
Artist Website: www.tracyannesmith.com/ChromaDuo.html
This is a spectacular recording and I’m very proud to give it two thumbs up!
This album by ChromaDuo is great for three reasons: it premieres a number of works by great composers writing for ChromaDuo; it has solid and exciting guitar work; and it has good recording quality which was recorded, edited, and mastered by Norbert Kraft. Those three elements make it an exciting release and highly interesting to guitar enthusiasts, students, professionals, and the average listener.
The work by Stephen Goss is a joy. I recently played his quartet Under Milk Wood Variations and the audience and performers loved the work. The duo presented here by Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald is perfect for modern audiences. The work is made of nine miniatures that reference various other music and styles, for example, Hot is in the style of Django Reinhardt, The Raw of Allen Holdsworth, Tango Brawl of Piazzolla. This work is likely my favorite from the album just for it’s sheer fun and beautiful colours and variety in textures. The duo plays it effortlessly but still pushes forward hard enough so we can hear some risk taking. There’s also some beautifully lyrical playing on Alba and highly interactive ensemble work on The Hotel Kempinksi. Bravo!
The other Goss work, Still the Sea, was written for ChromaDuo and is a homage to Toru Takemitsu. The work is filled with many transparent textures, a variety of colours, and moods ranging from tranquil to jazzy avant-garde – not the usual classical guitar fair. Goss may be considered new music but he is always very listenable and easy to take in by any listener. It is tradition music in its presentation but blends many modern styles and influences successfully. The ensemble handles the variety of textures and moods in good style with some very communicative moments.
The works by Christopher William Pierce are first inspired by Bach and Debussy and then by Ligeti. As I’ve said before, I really think that Pierce is making serious contributions to the classical guitar repertoire and should not be ignored. That’s all I really have to say because the music is very high quality and the ensemble again handles it with ease.
The Roland Dyens work Niteroi is another one written for ChromaDuo. We all know and love Dyens, here he has composed a work filled with great writing for the instrument, that is, filled with a fullness of colour and texture that only a top level player-composer would be able to write. Much like his other works, Niteroi has beautiful melodies embedded within washed-out harmonies and with a splash of hot jazz here and there. The ensemble shines as they produce waves of textures and play just about every conceivable colouristic trick in the book making for a very interesting listen.
Rob MacDonald has been producing some amazing work these days and with duo partner Tracy Anne Smith ChromaDuo has made a wonderful album. If I had to sum up this album with one quote it would be this:
ChromaDuo has recorded an exciting and beautiful album filled with new works written by some of the top composers in the guitar scene. The amazing guitar work combined with outstanding repertoire will make this recording a favorite in anyone’s collection. Bravo!
- Bradford Werner, Classical Guitar Canada