ANTONIO NAVA Flute and Guitar Duos (Noémi Györi, flute; Katalin Koltai, guitar), Hungaroton
Newly discovered chamber music
This disc of previously unrecorded duos for flute and guitar by the Hungarian musicians Noémi Györi and Katalin Koltai, who together perform as the Dialogue Duo, introduces the Italian composer Antonio Maria Nava (1775-1826) to flute players. Nava was, in his time, Italy’s most prolific and celebrated composer for guitar; however, as musical tastes changed, Nava’s reputation quickly faded. Although his many guitar works remain in the repertoire Nava’s other chamber music was neglected and, over time, lost. The Serenate, op. 63 and Variazioni, op. 40, performed here, were rediscovered by Massimo Agostinelli in archives in northern Italy between 1993 and 1997. The works bear the influence of the bel canto style of the time, and demonstrate the characteristic hallmarks of early Romanticism, however, on the whole these duos stretch few boundaries. They are charming, if rather slight, and although they provide opportunities for some virtuosic display, there is nothing to challenge the modern player unduly. Györi plays with a brightness and fluency which makes the pieces sparkle, and demonstrates a convincingly varied tonal palette and carefully executed articulation. The cantabile sections are played with a warm and tender tone, and a lovely sense of line. Although, as might be expected, Nava composes with an assured command of the guitar part, the instrument takes a notably subsidiary role in all except the Variazioni. Here Nava’s strengths as a guitar composer come to the fore as the guitar takes the lead in two of the variations. Unfortunately, however, due to rather poor balance in the recording, the flute’s staccato harmony notes tend to dominate the delicacy of the guitar when its moment finally comes. In general, the guitar plays little more than an accompanying role and is largely overshadowed by the power of the flute and its virtuoso elaborations. Nonetheless, this recording uncovers some pleasing chamber music for flute and guitar duo, and it is to be hoped that this music will be made available in print for other players to add to their repertoire.
First published in FLUTE, December 2011