Katona Twins

Katona Twins & Carducci String Quartet Perform Vivaldi

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Hungary's Katona Twins join a long list of guitar-playing siblings in both the classical and popular fields; like Brazilians Sergio and Odair Assad (and their awe-inspiring kid sister Badi), the duo performs a wide range of material in shows that begin with the Baroque and move forward to South American music, jazz, and pop. Although Vivaldi is not really the group's specialty, it achieves intriguing results here with a group of concerto and trio sonata transcriptions (plus one reconstructed duo sonata by Weiss), mostly for lute, mandolin, and strings originally. The two have the razzle-dazzle coordination in complex duo passages that siblings seem to find easier than unconnected mortals, and their inflections of the guitar strings in the lyrical Vivaldi slow movements are attractive and affecting. To achieve a lute-like clarity, they tweak the guitar in an intriguing way, quickly releasing the strings -- and the ease of their playing while using what must have been a rather unnatural technique makes the performance all the more impressive. Perhaps to keep the focus on the guitars, whose volume is a bit diminished by this kind of playing, they opt for a string quartet accompaniment (with bass) in the Vivaldi concertos. This is disconcerting at first; it tends to give the performance a kind of strolling-musician quality. But taken on its own terms it works, and the ensemble balance they strike is convincing. You settle into the sound after a while, and the clear but not over-live engineering from the Channel Classics label is also a help. An exciting release from some new starts of the guitar.

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