Cavatina Duo at the Opera — Brilliante!

Cavatina at the Opera is one of those releases that works on multiple levels. Superficially, it’s a program of pleasantly familiar music, arranged for flute and guitar — something that might not be out of place at a wine and cheese reception. After all, a medley of operatic favorites lends itself to moments of comforting recognition (and
perhaps some subconscious humming along).

But this isn’t really a disc of pleasing background music. Touring virtuosos of the 19th century often included opera medleys in their program as showcases for their talent. The familiar tunes ensured the audience wouldn’t get lost as they were dazzled by the extraordinary technique of the performers.

And that’s really what’s going on here. Flutist Eugenia Moliner and guitarist Denis Azabagic are both phenomenal performers. They make the difficult sound effortless. Sometimes it shows — as in the Variations of the “Carnival of Venice.” Although based on two older variation sets, Thomas introduces some decidedly 20th Century elements into the proceedings which really show this duo at their best.

Thomas also arranged four other selections for the duo from variations and fantasies originally written for solo guitar or or for flute and piano. And in each case presents the Cavatina Duo at their best.

Eugenia Moliner performs with a pure, well-rounded tone, even at the extremes of the instrument’s register. Her runs and trills are seamless, and she brings a singing quality and expressiveness to these melodies that (given their origin) is quite appropriate.

Denis Azabagic’s playing is quite agile and clean; the essence of classical guitar technique. I especially enjoyed his performance in “The Carnival of Venice.” As a duo, this husband and wife team is perfectly in sync.

Cavatina at the Opera
François Borne, arr. Joesph Zsapka: Fantasie Brilliante on Themes from Bizet’s “Carmen;” Mauro Giuliani: Potpourri from “Tancredi,” Op. 76; Fernando Sor, arr. Alan Thomas: Introduction and Variations on a theme by Mozart “O Cara Armonia,” Op. 9; Alan Thomas (after Francisco Tarrega and Guilio Briccialdi): Variations on “The Carnival of Venice;” Alan Thomas (based on Emanuel Krakamp and Guilian Briccialdi): Fantasy on Themes from “La Traviata;” Claude Paul Taffanel, arr. Alan Thomas: Fantaisie on Themes from “Der Freischütz”
Cavatina Duo
Bridge Records 9448

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