Folk song has long been fertile ground for composers and arrangers of music for the classical guitar, perhaps the most personal of instruments. “Folk song,” writes Ed Flower, “has a haunting spiritual quality … [that goes] straight to the heart, stirring a response at the core of our being”. 'Ayres and Dances,' Mark and Beverly Davis’ new recording, celebrates this association with deeply felt and beautifully played renditions of original works for classical guitar inspired by melodic and rhythmic elements of folk song from around the world.
The Greek composer Kiriakos Giorginakis (1950-87) studied classical guitar with Dimitri Fampas. His music draws on rock, jazz, Latin American, and other influences but at its core is resolutely the folk song of his native Greece. His compositions include numerous works for solo guitar, flute and guitar, piano, concerti for guitar and orchestra, and flute and plucked string ensemble. Little known outside of Greece during his all too brief lifetime, his guitar music has become much better recognized internationally through the efforts of the guitar duo Evangelos and Liza, for whom Giorginakis wrote several works including the haunting Greek Memories, two movements of which are recorded here.
Born in 1905, the Spanish composer Ernesto Halfter wrote in a nationalist style inspired by his mentor Manuel de Falla. An extract from his orchestral work Sonatina, the Danza de la Pastora (‘Shepherdess’ Dance’) has been arranged for solo piano, violin and piano, solo guitar, bandurria ensemble; and, on this recording, for guitar duo. With its angular rhythms and alternating major-minor theme, so typically Spanish, the Danza is reminiscent of the sonatas of the Spanish harpsichord master Antonio Soler, flavored by the tone colors and dynamic range of two guitars.
British-born guitarist Edward Flower studied guitar in London and with the famous Spanish pedagogue Jose Tomas. During his long and varied career he has worked with a wide variety of artists, musical groups, and theatrical organizations. Mark and Beverly Davis perform four of his gorgeous settings for two guitars of folk song from the British Isles – a Christmas carol, a love song, a traditional Scottish dance set and a Welsh lullaby. His arrangements precisely capture the jaunty rhythms, wistful melodies, and soulful power of the originals, especially when so beautifully and lovingly played as they are in this recording.
Folk music is but one of a diverse set of influences that have shaped the music of Milan Tesar, including blues, jazz, and traditional classical forms. Born in Prague in 1938, Tesar received his musical education at the Prague Conservatory and currently teaches in Prague’s Jaroslav Jezek conservatory. His works for guitar have been performed worldwide by the Czech virtuoso guitarists Vladimir Blaha, Vladimir Mikulka, and by the Prague Guitar Quartet. One of his best known compositions, the Suita Karrusel is an affectionate homage to baroque structures and modalities, no more so than in the luscious Aria played here with exquisite tone and phrasing by Mark and Beverly Davis.
Rhode Island born guitarist-composer Robert Martel earned music degrees from the Boston Conservatory and the University of Connecticut. He has performed as a guitarist with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, the Castle Heights Guitar Duo, Music For A While, and the Tomassi-Martel Duo; his compositions, the majority of which are for plucked strings, have been performed in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Completed in the summer of 2003, Summer Music, with its dance-like outer movements surrounding a ‘meditation,’ is a musical reflection of the season – in the composer’s words, “a time of rest, recreation, rejuvenation, and contemplation.” Notes by Robert A. Margo
A highly-respected concert artist in the field of guitar and mandolin music for more than three decades, Mark Davis appears on many CD recordings, including the Grammy-nominated ‘Vienna Nocturne,’ and has been a featured artist at various international events such as the Festival Internacional Musica de Plettro (Spain), and the Kobe International Music Festival (Japan). Mark Davis is the music director of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, and directs a classical guitar program at the Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island.
Beverly Davis has performed on the classical guitar for over two decades, and as a member of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra has appeared in concerts in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Canada, and throughout the U.S. Mark and Beverly Davis have performed together as a guitar duo since 2001, appearing in concerts in New England, Canada, Germany and Portugal.
Mark and Beverly Davis both perform on custom made classical guitars by luthier Stephan Connor. Beverly's guitar (left channel) has a German spruce top and highly figured koa wood sides and back. It has an inlaid 'twining rope' binding with bloodwood trim. Mark Davis' guitar (right channel) is an experimental model which uses lattice bracing and a custom Connor acoustic portal in the upper bout for improved resonance. It has a cedar top and Brazilian rosewood sides and back. Stephan Connor practices the art of luthiery on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His website is www.connorguitars.com.