Those of a certain age remember the old Certs breath mint commercial, "It's TWO, TWO, TWO mints in one!" This week on Crossover, it's TWO, TWO, TWO great musicians in one! Grammy-nominated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux are duet partners on their new CD, Together.
A harp and a guitar - two plucked instruments played "together" by their virtuoso owners? This is quite a unique duo of instruments that wouldn't normally share the stage. But...maybe it's time they did!
Kondonassis says it happened organically. Several years ago, Yolanda and Jason performed a single piece with each other. From that point, the wheels started turning in the harpist's mind. Eventually, she got in touch with Vieaux, suggesting that they officially form a duo. Jason agreed, and that was the beginning.
Since then, between their own solo commitments, they've been touring together, performing the unique and eclectic repertoire that appears on the disc.
There isn't a plethora of music written for guitar and harp. As Kondonassis explains, "A common thread in compositions written for harp and guitar is often a nod to world music cultures - Latin, Asian, Middle Eastern, and everything in between . . . the result is a sonic space unlike most chamber music territories."
Vieaux adds, "Part of what we're doing is attempting to expand the repertoire for guitar and harp because we think the combination of these two instruments is beautiful."
Together includes Alan Hovhaness' Spirit of Trees, Xavier Montsalvatge's Fantasia, Máximo Diego Pujol's Suite magica, and two world-premiere recordings of works commissioned by the duo: Knock on Wood (2012) by Keith Fitch and Hypnotized (2013) by Gary Schocker.
Jill Pasternak speaks with Yolanda and Jason, both solo veterans of Crossover, and plays excerpts from Together. See if you can hear where one instrument starts and the next begins. Or just sit back and enjoy the blend of two instruments sharing the stage.
Crossover with Jill Pasternak airs Saturday at 11:30 am on WRTI-FM, with an encore the following Friday at 7 pm on WRTI-HD2. Both airings can be heard on the All-Classical web stream at wrti.org.