Duarte’s Partita was completed in 1974. It’s a substantial work in four movements, using all original material. As in the Variations on a Theme of Štěpán Rak he adopts a four-note motif, which may be heard forwards, backwards, inverted and stretched. Variations on an Italian Folk Song Op.139 was written in 2000. It draws on the second movement, “Canzona”, of Duarte’s prior Suite piemontese, which was based on a combination of two tunes: Il testamento dell’avvelenato and Re Gilardin. This gentle theme is characterised by simple movements of a step or a fourth. The six variations all begin with this stepwise movement but they quickly gain individual characters. Valse lyrique (2000) is one of the three short dances Duarte wrote late in his career. The second theme, clearly derived from the first, includes some hemiolas as well as combined harmonics and natural notes. The central section features the melody in the bass. Valse en rondeau was written in 1997 for the American guitarist David Starobin. Duarte stated: “I decided to make reference to my origin as a jazz musician and to my interest in early music (the Rondeau form) and to exercise my unshakeable belief in melody.” The origin of the Variations on a Theme of Štěpán Rak Op.100 is unique. In 1984 Rak was staying with Duarte when Vladimir Mikulka performed a lunchtime concert in London. At the end of the concert Mikulka announced that he was going to perform an unusual encore – a theme, but without variations that had yet to be written. Afterwards he announced that Rak, Koshkin and Duarte should exchange themes with each other to create six new variation works, and he presented Duarte with Rak’s theme on a piece of manuscript paper. Andrés Segovia, a supreme Anglophile, married his third wife in Gibraltar (“under the British flag, on Spanish soil”), and their son was born in London. Duarte’s 3 Songs without Words for Carlos Andrés were a present to the happy couple. Danza eccentrica (2000) was dedicated to the Italian guitarist Domenico Lafasciano with the note, “Here is your dance. It may not be what you expected, but it’s what I’ve written – not another ‘cloned’ rumba, tango, waltz or whatever, but something with more individual character.” The unexpected aspects include dissonant harmonies, bass notes which move in ¾ against the treble in 6/8 and sections more reminiscent of a hurdy-gurdy. The Italian guitarist Angelo Gilardino wrote to Duarte about his Fantasia and Fugue on Torre Bermeja Op.30: “…the melodic and rhythmic feeling is of the sort to easily produce the fascination of the public”. The Torre Bermeja in question is the piano piece by Isaac Albéniz, Op.92 No.12. Although it carries Op.62 (1974) on its cover, the little Prélude en arpèges was written in 1954/5 and intended as the first movement of a Harp Suite Op.18 that was never completed.
- Recorded July 2022, Gorla Minore, Italy
- Flavio Nati plays a guitar by Mikhail Robert and is a D’Addario Artist
- Booklet in English contains liner notes by the composer’s son and album music supervisor, Christopher Duarte, and a profile of the artist
- John Duarte (1919-2004) was educated at the Manchester University Faculty of Technology. He worked as a professional chemist until 1969, then abandoned chemistry in favor of full-time dedication to music, after having been persuaded by Len Williams, father of John Williams. His only formal musical education consisted in jazz guitar lessons with Terence "Terry" Usher, the rest he learned by self-instruction. He also worked professionally as a player of the trumpet and double bass, and regularly worked as a jazz musician, among others with Coleman Hawkins and Django Reinhardt.
- Duarte taught at the London-based Spanish Guitar Centre, which Williams senior had founded and where the young John Williams studied with him. Williams acknowledged the early influence of Duarte by including his works and transcriptions in his first recording.
- Duarte was in close contact with many of the great guitarists of his time, notably Andrés Segovia, Alexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti, for whom he wrote new compositions.
- Duartes work shows an exceptionally wide range of styles. Some works reflect the Renaissance style of court lutenists such as John Dowland, other works alternate in style between aleatory, atonal and graphic, contained within a conventionally notated framework and allowing spontaneous reaction between the performers. In many other works he employs a tonal language, often colored by the folk music traditions of various nations, and romantic in mood.
- This new recording presents works for solo guitar: a Partita, a Prelude & Fugue, two sets of Variations and several shorter character pieces, all played with total commitment by Flavio Nati, one of Italy’s foremost guitarists, winner of the Golden Guitar. He played in Carnegie Hall New York as soloist in the guitar concerto of Castelnuovo-Tedesco.