The Grigoryan Brothers have impressed in recent years with their ability to genre-hop without ever seeming out of place; their collaboration with the Tawadros brothers a few years ago was excellent. The repertoire here is primarily performances of vocal favourites by Dvorˇák, Fauré, Elgar, and Tchaikovsky, among others, re-worked for guitar duo.
There are a few issues with the repertoire selection in that some pieces are rather more effective than others. For example, Rachmaninov’s famous Vocalise comes off a distinct second-best for a simple reason – the guitar’s lack of sustain means that the notes disappear long before they should. In some of the pieces, the duo seems to have realised this dilemma. Tchaikovsky’s None but the Lonely Heart is taken at such a rapid clip that it’s done and dusted in about two minutes, whereas most recordings usually take at least a minute more.
Since this is simply the nature of the instrument, pieces that don’t rely quite so much on a single sustained note work considerably better. Manuel de Falla’s set of Seven Spanish Folk Songs are played very effectively, though I wish there was more rhythmic bite in some of them – Jacqueline du Pré and John Williams’ recording of the Jota has a lot more drive.
The pieces are beautifully played but it’s hard not to want to hear the original vocal versions. A good recording, but only partially successful.