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O Duo

 

 

 
1. Vivaldi, Antonio [02:48]
Presto (Summer) from the Four Seasons

2. Bach, Johann Sebastian [02:24]
French Suite No.5 in G major - i - Allemande

3. Bach, Johann Sebastian [01:38]
French Suite No.5 in G major - ii - Courante

4. Bach, Johann Sebastian [02:08]
French Suite No.5 in G major - iii - Sarabande

5. Bach, Johann Sebastian [01:09]
French Suite No.5 in G major - iv - Gavotte

6. Bach, Johann Sebastian [01:16]
French Suite No.5 in G major - v - Bouree

7. Bach, Johann Sebastian [01:03]
French Suite No.5 in G major - vi - Loure

8. Bach, Johann Sebastian [03:21]
French Suite No.5 in G major - vii - Gigue

9. Cox, Oliver [09:23]
Signals From Space

10. Albeniz, Isaac [03:45]
Suite Espanola - Cadiz

11. Albeniz, Isaac [03:42]
Suite Espanola - Aragon

12. Trainer, Fraser [02:01]
Silence Twice Broken - i - At The Double

13. Trainer, Fraser [05:58]
Silence Twice Broken - ii - Secret Song (Breaking Silence)

14. Trainer, Fraser [03:48]
Silence Twice Broken - iii - King Pair

15. Glass, Phillip [13:14]
Mad Rush

16. Prokofiev, Sergei [02:15]
Prelude in C major Op.12 No.7

17. Ligeti, Gyorgy [04:49]
Musica Ricercata VII - Cantabile Molto Legato

18. Shostakovich, Dmitri [02:12]
Prelude No.5 in D major

19. O Duo [11:25]
Searching

Artist(s):
O Duo,


Percussion has found its place in mainstream music making, evidenced by the huge success of Colin Currie's recent Southbank festival and the number of new works and arrangements for today's virtuoso players who include the spectacular 'O Duo'
This, their second album for Champs Hill Records, features a wide range of repertoire from Bach and Vivaldi to Philip Glass and Fraser Trainer
The modern marimba, and modern multi-stick techniques allows players to perform virtuosic and demanding music such as the Presto from Vivaldi�s Quattro Stagioni, as well as the intimately lyrical, as demonstrated by O Duo�s transcription of the Sarabande from Bach�s French Suite no. 5.
The music of Albéniz  - his Suite Espa�ola, character pieces representing the different regions of Spain - transcribe brilliantly for percussion.  O Duo�s arrangement positively sparkles, making the most of the music�s chromatic sidesteps and its melodic beauty, Prokofiev's Harp Prelude sounds entirely idiomatic for percussion as does the seventh movement of Ligeti�s Musica Ricercata and sits comfortably alongside Philip Glass�s Mad Rush.
 British composer Fraser Trainer wrote a double concerto for percussion and orchestra called Breaking Silence for O Duo, Sinfonia Viva and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2012-13; Silence Twice Broken is a newly written piece for duo alone based on material from the earlier work.


O Duo�s own composition from 2011, Searching represents a journey spent, as the title might suggest, 'searching' for something and the emotions and feelings which this journey 
throws up - sadness, longing, excitement, anticipation among others.
  
Oliver Cox�s Signals from Space explores a very wide variety of timbre by employing many different instruments, including such unexpected things as two metal pipes, a metal bucket with rivets, a spring coil, bowed glockenspiel and tuned alpine cowbells.


Described by The Daily Telegraph as �brimming with style and panache�, in recent years O Duo has won a Special Commissioning Award from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and have been appointed Artistic Directors of the Children�s Classic Concerts series in Scotland. Owen Gunnell and Olly Cox reveal their artistic quality, passion for commissioning new repertoire and dedication to education work.


 

 


Not only have percussion instruments found, over the course of the past 100 years or so, their rightful place as versatile and colourful members of the orchestra, but their opportunities have increased exponentially � one only has to think of landmark works such as Stravinsky�s L�Histoire du Soldat (1917), Bartók�s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1938), the sudden explosion of percussion ensembles during the 1960s and 1970s, the institutionalizing of the marimba as part of an ensemble with the work of the Modern Jazz Quartet, or the development of the percussion concerto since what was probably the first example of the genre, by Milhaud in 1929.

In particular, the emergence of the marimba as a melodic instrument, and its increased versatility, meant that the province of the percussionist became much wider than just newly composed works. Thus it is that O Duo�s repertoire ranges from the baroque to early 20th-century repertoire as well as specially written percussion music. It may seem remarkable that the music of composers such as Vivaldi and Bach transfers so well to the new medium, but it is less so if one recalls that baroque composers in general were some of the greatest arrangers of their own work, and that the extended range of the modern marimba together with multi-stick technique enables the performance of both the highly virtuosic, as is the case with the Presto from Vivaldi�s Quattro Stagioni, and the intimately lyrical, as demonstrated by O Duo�s transcription of the Sarabande from Bach�s French Suite No.5.

The music of Isaac Albéniz is perhaps a less obvious choice for transcription, but nonetheless a very good one. His Suite Española was written as a set of four pieces for piano in 1886�7, and republished posthumously in 1912, with a further four pieces. They are all character pieces, portraying different regions of Spain (which at the time of composition included Cuba), usually by means of a dance form. Cádiz is represented by a saeta (even though the saeta is not typical of Cádiz), which in O Duo�s arrangement positively sparkles, making the most of the music�s chromatic sidesteps and its melodic beauty, and Aragón by a lively free- form jota that modulates wildly.

Prokofiev�s Harp Prelude comes from a set of ten he wrote while still a student, during the years 1906�13, while Shostakovich�s Prelude No.5 is from his remarkable set of 24 Preludes and Fugues, written between 1950 and 1951. They both transfer so beautifully to the new idiom that one would think they had originally been written for pitched percussion � the moto perpetuo style of the Prokofiev is particularly felicitous.

Ligeti�s Musica Ricercata is a set of eleven pieces for piano, written in 1951�53. The extraordinary seventh movement is built from a fast ostinato, originally in the left hand of the piano, which is completely independent from the right hand, a simple melody that is gradually harmonized and played in canon against itself; the piece seemingly disappears into eternity. Philip Glass�s Mad Rush was originally written in 1979 as part of a dance project with the choreographer Lucinda Childs, four years after his notorious Einstein on the Beach, with which it has much in common. If it sounds clearly minimalist to us today, it was seen at the time as something of a departure from Glass�s earlier, rigorous style: indeed, it was initially Part 4 of a series called Another Look at Harmony.

British composer Fraser Trainer wrote a double concerto for percussion and orchestra called Breaking Silence for O Duo, Sinfonia ViVA and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2012�13; Silence Twice Broken is a newly written piece for duo alone based on material from the earlier work. It explores a great range of timbres, and moves from fast, virtuosic writing in �At the Double� to music that emerges gradually from tiny sounds, reminiscent of the natural world, in the central �Secret Song�, to the compelling but enigmatic character of �King Pair�, which, while it nods in the direction of classical minimalism, is subsumed an a mysterious and beautiful ritualistic tolling and tinkling. The composer himself says of the work �The second of these three pieces, �Secret Song (Breaking Silence)� is full of intimate sounds on the very edge of silence and is probably not one to put on whilst doing the ironing � more a sit down, pour a drink, turn up the volume and turn down the lights type of listening experience... Here, I wanted to explore the things that percussion instruments are much less known for, hence the singing cow- bells, tiny clicks, ticks and scrapes as well as the wonderful Acme wind-bird-steam, the amplifier of heavy breathing � one for each player. �King Pair� and �At The Double� are much more rhythmically highly charged, both centred around the idea of two players jostling for space around one marimba with various sustaining and punctuating instruments set alongside, making for a very physical and energetic few minutes of fun and games with the odd attempt at a moment of contemplation squeezed in amongst the frenetic action.�

O Duo�s own composition from 2011, Searching, begins with an exploration of timbre that suggests electronic sound, before moving onto a pulsing, dance-like section that changes constantly, both rhythmically and timbrally, until the music almost comes to a complete stop; it begins again, however, with a meditative section for vibraphone and bow which in turn gives way to what one might describe as a cadenza for unpitched percussion, before the final section returns us to the earlier pulsing dance material and back to the origins of the piece in the quasi- electronic ether. O Duo say of the piece that it �was composed with inspiration taken from the minimalist movement, though features quite a variety of different instruments. The piece represents a journey spent, as the title might suggest, �searching� for something and the emotions and feelings this journey throws up � sadness, longing, excitement, anticipation among others. One thing that has been apparent as we have performed this piece many times over the last few years, is that it can mean something very different to each individual listener. For this reason, we have chosen not to offer a particularly detailed note, but to let each listener create their own story...!�

If Searching possibly suggests sounds from another world, Oliver Cox�s Signals from Space does so explicitly. The composer writes that his initial ideas were �reminiscent of strange and alien landscapes as well as a kind of battle in Outer Space, hence the title of the piece, though this can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the inspiration that comes from the Inner Space accessed through meditation, which has been a huge factor in the acceleration of my creative drive over the last year or two.� The work explores a very wide variety of timbres by employing many different instruments, including such unexpected things as two metal pipes, a metal bucket with rivets, a spring coil, bowed glockenspiel and tuned alpine cowbells. Though the piece is made up of clearly differentiated sections, the composer notes that it is a continuous work, taking the listener on a journey through space.

Ivan Moody


"These two young percussionists continue to show how exhilarating classical music can be on the marimba and vibraphone."

"[Searching] ... deploys a wider array of tuned and untuned percussion in a glistening constellation of timbres..."

"...the sounds are beguiling"

"There's dynamic and sensitive artistry aplenty here on a disc that should appeal not merely to percussion aficionados."

Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph

"The sound world evoked in Philip Glass's Mad Rush is quite simply magical."

"[O Duo] work [Ligeti's Musica Ricercata VII, Cantabile] into something mesmerising and sonically beautiful."

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

   
   

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