Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclectic guitar and cello a delight

CD Review - Boyd Meets Girl - Guitar and Cello
by Clinton White

Eclecticism personified – that’s the essence of the cleverly titled Boyd Meets Girl, the debut album of the guitar and cello duo, of the same name, of Rupert Boyd and his wife Laura Metcalf.

Still, the album may be eclectic, but it is not pretentious.  No flashy, showy stuff; in fact, it’s quite introspective.  But all the way through, it is lyrical, beautifully balanced and played, and with great sensitivity between the instruments as to who does what.  Overall it delivers a thoughtful, engaging, entertaining, and utterly delightful program.

ANU School of Music-trained Boyd, now based in New York, has established himself as one of the world’s finest classical guitarists.  He’s got two solo albums under his belt and has made concert appearances in places like Carnegie Hall and through four continents to the Barcelona Guitar Festival in Spain.

New Yorker, Metcalf, too, has appeared at Carnegie Hall and is in much demand as a chamber musician.  She has toured the world to great acclaim, has one solo album under her belt, and is a member of the award-winning string quintet, Sybarites.

Boyd Meets Girl
There’s not a lot of music written specifically for guitar and cello, but Boyd Meets Girl does include three. 

One of them, Arafura Orioso, by Australian composer Ross Edwards, is evocative of Australia’s vast and ancient outback landscape.  It’s actually an arrangement of the adagio from Edwards’ guitar concerto Arafura Dances.  He wrote the arrangement, with the orchestral part played on the cello, at the duo’s request.  The duo plays it with lyricism and from a real sense of attachment, naturally enough, to the piece.

The album opens with a work by the living, but not-so-well-known Bolivian composer and guitarist, Jaime Zenamon.  His Reflexões No. 6 is in three short movements – fluido, doloroso and vivissimo.  Boyd and Metcalf play the movements exactly in the manner suggested by the movement markings.  By the end, the listener has settled quite nicely into the chair and is ready for an hour of very fine, calming and relaxing music-making.

There’s one more piece written for cello and guitar – the Allegretto Comodo by Radamés Gnattali, a 20th century Brazilian composer.  For the rest of the program, Boyd Meets Girl has written imaginative and engaging arrangements of music covering an amazing repertoire, from JS Bach all the way through to Michael Jackson (I kid you not!).

And just like the rest of the program on this delightful album, Jackson’s Human Nature is done with exquisite taste and musicianship. 

Liner notes are nicely presented; even the font size is, somewhat unusually for CDs, readily readable!  The stories presented for each track open a door into the lives of the artists and are like a “pre-concert talk”, giving some enlightening information about the composers and their pieces.  I loved the little personal touch at the end – the photo booth strips of Boyd and Metcalf. 

Boyd Meets Girl are on their debut concert CD launch tour in Australia.  It’s an unusual combo, but it works.  Beautifully.