The Duo Transatlantique is composed of Ben Beirs and Maud Laforest; two exceptional guitarists who met and began performing together while studying at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, MD. Nevertheless, they represent two cultures an ocean apart as they are American and French respectively. This cultural juxtaposition is central to both the personality of the duo, as well as their musical identity. As such, the repertoire within From Moment to Moment is heavily influenced by the French tradition, but also recognizes its American counterpart in the music of Scot Joplin and Domenico Scarlatti.
Although Scarlatti was an Italian, these settings of his work were arranged by Americans Julian Gray and Ron Pearl. In addition, the Duo Transatlantique worked extensively with Julian Gray in their academic careers at the Peabody Institute of Music.
The aforementioned French music was written by Antoine De L’Hoyer and César Franck, guitarists and composers from the Baroque and Classical eras, as well as Eric Penicaud and Yann Tiersen, both of whom are still living and breathing.
Regardless, the album opens with Jongo from Brazilian composer Paulo Bellinati. Opening with this work was a savvy programming choice because its robust and animated nature promptly draws in the listener in for the remainder of the record. Within this cut the duo takes a percussive turn at 3:25 and the musicians perform on every part of the instrument except the strings. This section is perhaps my favorite piece of the album. I love the sense of exploration that the musicians exude as they search the topography of the instrument for different interactions of colors and rhythms. The Duo Transatlantique has magisterial command over every facet of their instrument, and they wield this skill artfully and evocatively to create any sound world they please.
Duo Transatlantique: Jongo
The title track of this album is from composer Eric Penicaud and is the second movement from his Little Suite for Children. The form of this burbling and playful piece unfolds itself as a sort of short vignettes. It is intentionally undirected – like a child, and exists moment to moment (pun intended). It is the melodic journey that is important here, not the destination.
Duo Transatlantique: From Moment to Moment
Following this are three arrangements of Yann Tiersen compositions from the French film Amélie. The Duo Transatlantique personally arranged these works for guitar duo and this gives them an inevitably personal and intimate relationship with the work. Tiersen is a composer of minimalist tendencies which makes his music memorable and easy to understand and digest. These arrangements are completely unique unto the duo and place the final thumbprint of personality onto their record.
Duo Transatlantique: Comptine d'un autre ete
The Duo Transatlantique are prolific performers and media savvy new generation classical musicians. They can be reached and interacted with in a myriad of media and I sincerely recommend that you dig a little deeper into their corner of the interwebs and shake the dust of your everyday music listening habits with something new and unknown to you. You dig?