I have been super-fortunate once again over the past few weeks to have the pleasure of listening to and reviewing another wonderful new recording, comprised of almost entirely original compositions (save one piece). Falling Like Tears is the first (and Kickstarter campaign-backed) recording from classical guitar and piano pairing, mimi duo. Also being a pianist, as well as classical guitarist myself I was quite excited to listen to this recording.
The WA based mimi duo features guitarist, composer and arranger Duncan Gardiner and pianist Setsu Masuda. Masuda’s story as a musician I find particularly interesting and heart-warming in that she returned to piano after a hiatus only in 2009, and holds now the AMusA and LMusA from the AMEB as well as performing in the mimi duo and other performance settings. A super talented woman!
Gardiner is perhaps more well-known to those in Western Australian and Australian classical guitar circles and already having toured internationally, and with three albums and a book of original works to his name. A super talented chap!
mimi duo have been playing and performing together since 2012 and in 2015 they featured as guest soloists with the Fremantle Symphony Orchestra. This year (2016) sees them take to the international stage with a tour of Japan. A super talented duo!
Falling Like Tears, mimi duo’s first recording is somewhat a case of art inspiring art inspiring art. A good proportion of the recording has been inspired by a story – The Rose, the Butterfly, the Bee and the Moth – written by renowned author Jane Harrison. Harrison’s story had then been illustrated and turned into an art book, apparently a sculptural art installation which opens up like a concertina, by artist Jo Darvall.
I won’t give the game away on the story, but Harrison’s story is presented with some of Darvall’s artwork within the beautifully presented CD packaging with the recording.
Again,without wanting to give the story away (and I encourage to you to head over to iTunes or www.mimiduo.com.au to grab your own copy) each of the pieces has been very sensitively composed and very much reflective of the different phases of the story it has been written around.
It’s challenging to pick a favourite track from the recording as they’re all really lovely pieces in their own right (each ranging from around 2 minutes to about 7 minutes in length), 15 tracks in all.
If I had to be pinned down to favourite track, however, I would probably have to go with Slowly, Deeply, which is a crucial pinnacle point in the story.
Slowly, Deeply is a piece featuring a bittersweet, slightly melancholy piano melody to the fore, with the guitar providing some wonderfully coloured, shimmering chords (great playing, and fabulous tonal shifts and control on the part of Duncan). The piece, about halfway through, then moves into a more urgent, pressing reinforced melody from the piano, with some fabulous tremolo action in the background from the guitar. The guitar then drops away with quite dramatic effect to leave the piano playing solo with plenty of sustain pedal, before the guitar then enters again with some wonderful fade in-fade out chords. A very beautiful piece.
And if I had to be pinned down to another favourite I’d go with A Thousand Cranes Beat Their Wings – a wonderful, Japanese-inspired interplay between the guitar and piano. This piece is not a part of the The Rose, the Butterfly, the Bee and the Moth story, but rather a piece that Duncan was inspired to write following the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. The mood and style of the piece is one that fits in very well indeed with the mood and style of this recording.
All in all, Falling Like Tears is an incredibly beautiful piece of work, featuring some wonderful original compositions for guitar and piano, presented in a manner sensitive to the music being presented by two clearly talented musicians. I highly recommend this recording if you’re a fan of contemporary classical guitar, of new music or of heartfelt and haunting lyrical melodies and soundscapes.
Visit www.mimiduo.com.au to find out more about mimi duo and to grab your own copy of Falling Like Tears. You can also do the download the album from iTunes.