A gently swelling guitar figure is adorned with flecks of pizzicato cello in the atmospheric opening to guitarist-composer Jaime Zenamon’s Reflexões No 6. The track throws the listener immediately into the rich sound-world of Boyd Meets Girl – a duo formed by Australian guitarist Rupert Boyd and American cellist Laura Metcalf. Their debut, self-titled album features works by Fauré, Bach, Ross Edwards, Gnattali, Piazzolla, De Falla, Pärt and Steve Porcaro – an eclectic programme bound together by the distinctive instrumental combination, the musical possibilities of which the players explore in wide-ranging detail.
The Doloroso second movement of Reflexões is sparse and haunting, Metcalf’s cello carving rich-hued melodic lines over a crisp, dissonant accompaniment from Boyd. The musical world shifts with Fauré’s tender Opus 50 Pavanne, arranged for the combination by Metcalf and Boyd. An arrangement of a handful of Bach’s Two-Part Inventions sees the pair strike out in another direction in a joyful romp of brisk counterpoint. The mood becomes more reflective with a stripped back arrangement of the expansive second movement of Ross Edwards’ Guitar Concerto Arafura Dances, arranged for the duo by the composer.
The Café 1930 movement from Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, borrowed from the flute and guitar repertoire, works remarkably well in this combination, Metcalf’s dark tone gives the work a weighty depth while her defined articulation and energy keep the piece driving forward when required – and she sings in the high register.
Much of the second half of the disc is taken up by Manuel de Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españoles (Seven Popular Spanish Songs). Originally written for piano and voice, the accompaniment part mimics the inflections of the guitar – so reverse engineering it winds up producing a very effective result. There is plenty to enjoy in here – from the passionate El Paño Moruno through the bright Jota, tenebrous Nana and finally the fiery Polo.
The final work – not including the encore-like inclusion of Steve Porcaro’s Human Nature (made famous by Michael Jackson) – is the sublimely tranquil Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt, the composer’s triadic, tintinnabular accompaniment well suited to the guitar, with Metcalf achieving an affecting stillness in the melody.
There is a sense of lightness and joy that permeates Boyd Meets Girl, the works are uniformly a pleasure to listen to, and, no doubt, to perform – but there is also plenty to sink your teeth into. The Zenamon and Edwards are highlights and the arrangements of more familiar works are approached with sensitivity and flair. Well worth a look.
Boyd Meets Girl tour Australia August 25 – September 22.