Contra - Guitar Duo

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Contra Guitar Duo - Hamish Strathdee and Emma-Shay Gallenti-Guilfoyle


Contra Guitar Duo’s debut recording showcases its musical personality and the elements they most enjoy about playing as a duo - lyricism, complex rubato and colour.

It opens with Divertimento, a vibrant work by Andrés Segovia, his only work for two guitars. Much like Segovia’s other compositions, the work is colourful, lyrical and in a romantic style. It's a short dynamic piece which seamlessly passes the melodic line between players.

Crisantemi by Giacomo Puccini is a deeply sincere elegy composed in a single night following the death of the former King of Spain, Amadeo di Savoia, in 1890. Originally for string quartet, the work has been masterfully arranged by Angelo Gilardino. The music is poetic and creates a sense of yearning, employing sustained notes requiring extreme control and balance between players.

Three Duets by Phillip Houghton offers a stark contrast with its scherzo character and angular rhythmic figures. Houghton describes the first movement, The Mantis and the Moon, as an “existential ‘Insect/Lunar Comic-Tragedy of Whimsical Proportions’!” The second movement Lament is sparsely written and gives the impression of time standing still. The final movement Alchemy is inspired by Houghton’s vision of “sparks of gold and threads of light coming out of the guitars” and features a driving ostinato traded between guitars.

This short album closes with Alexandre Tansman’s Variations on a Theme of Scriabin - a highly complex and dense work originally for solo guitar arranged by Tilman Hoppstock. By sharing the thick polyphonic writing across two instruments, the work’s lyrical and colourful character is perfectly encapsulated; the medium of guitar duo enabling exceptional musical clarity far beyond what is possible on one instrument.

Track Listing

Divertimento (Andrés Segovia)
Crisantemi (Giacomo Puccini)
The Mantis and the Moon (Phillip Houghton)
Lament (Phillip Houghton)
Alchemy (Phillip Houghton)
Variations on a Theme of Scriabin (Alexandre Tansman)


Move Records CD Single (run time 26 minutes)