The repertory for guitar duos grew during the boom in guitar music in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the double-guitar concerto The Book of Signs by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, written in 2003, is not a common item. This release by the Brasil Guitar Duo is worth your time and money for that reason alone. Start with the fact that Brouwer in general is an underrated composer who fused nationalistic works, many of them for the guitar, with subtle structural ideas. Proceed to the overall movement structure of this concerto, which, perhaps uniquely, begins with two separate variation sets. The first, "The Signs of Memory," is a set of 18 variations on the theme of Beethoven's 32 Variations in C minor, WoO 80. (This is as close as we come here to an explanation of the biblical title The Book of Signs for the concerto as a whole.) Delve into the extraordinary complexity of this movement beneath its easy-to-listen-to, chaconne-like surface. The work, unlike most of Brouwer's, poses technical challenges, which the players of the Brasil Guitar Duo surmount. The Concerto Caboclo (the term, and the music, suggest mixed-race Brazilians) of Brazilian composer Paulo Bellinati is a pleasant bonus, as is the idiomatic playing of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra under David Amado. The sound, from a pair of auditoriums in the Wilmington, Delaware, area, will not win any awards, but it reveals the fine work of the guitarists clearly enough. An unusually nice find for fans of Brouwer, guitar music, and Latin American music in general.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Book of Signs for two guitars and string orchestra|
|Concerto Caboclo for two guitars and orchestra|