It wasn’t always clear what they were playing. But it was always good.
The Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society presented a concert by the Brasil Guitar Duo at the Renzo Piano Pavilion of the Kimbell Art Museum on Thursday, which impressed at every turn while rendering the evening’s program largely useless.
The concert was to open with three transcriptions of harpsichord pieces by French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. Instead, we heard only Cyclops, the last of the three Rameau works on the bill. The duo, Douglas Lora and Joao Luiz, demonstrated a level of togetherness on that opening work that would be the trademark of the concert as a whole. They reconstructed Rameau’s ornate figures with stunning exactitude and skill in Luiz’s arrangement of the piece.
The other two listed Rameau works were dropped, as were a few other works on the program, without explanation.
So next up was the unlisted Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor by 20th century Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. I lamented the loss of the pieces by Rameau (my favorite composer), but this intricate and often dramatic work was a welcome choice for a replacement.
The concert’s first half concluded with a sprawling work by contemporary Cuban composer Leo Brouwer. His Sonata de Los Viajeros recounted a global journey in four movements, including a stop in Leipzig to check in on J.S. Bach. That movement was particularly charming in its imitation of that great Baroque master. But the closing movement, which found the travelers back in Brouwer’s native Cuba, had all the characteristics that make this composer’s efforts such a joy. It was clever, quirky, exciting, tuneful and delightfully Latin.
The second half of the concert was more of a mystery. After it was announced that the duo would finally be doing only Brazilian music, they took the stage and delivered a jazzy little number by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla.
The concert then continued with a pair of pieces by a Brazilian composer actually listed in the program, Egberto Gismonti, but not the works named. Whatever the pieces were, they covered a lot of interesting sonic ground.
What happened next was robbed from me by an early deadline. But it was probably more Gismonti, and maybe even some of the six pieces listed in the program.
The only negative aspect of the performance was the venue. These concerts are usually held in the concert hall of the pavilion. But some construction was being done in that space, so the concert was in the entrance hall of the building, which is not as acoustically pleasing, or as comfortable, as the Guitar Society’s usual venues.