By Emma Arnesen
On Monday, April 13, the Conservatory of Music hosted the Cavatina Duo in Harper Hall. Flutist Eugenia Moliner and her guitarist husband Denis Azabagic performed six different pieces, each with several variations which emphasized both of their instruments. The duo’s name, Cavatina, derives from the Italian word, cavata, relating to the tone an instrument produces, and describes a short song of simple character. The various pieces the couple performed were similar to arias, recitatives pertaining to a larger movement, or scena, composition.
The first half of the performance consisted of classical pieces by Bach and Mozart, which were accompanied by an arranged composition “Three Balkan Pieces,” two dances and one song. While Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Sonata in E Major” was mainly written for flute with a continuo of piano, the guitar complemented the woodwind beautifully. Azabagic was seated with his instrument while his wife stood and expressively led the audience through the four different variants of the piece.
Body movement and emotion conveyed a vast difference between the “Allegro” and the “Andante.” The change in speed and trills produced by the flute followed the guitar’s crescendos and diminuendos; both instruments played a simile of the other and were able to imitate the same phrases in different pitches, creating a fugue.
The “Three Balkan Pieces” did not follow the same melodious air the Bach sonata produced. With a faster tempo and abrupt stops in the middle of phrases, the Balkan-inspired composition was arranged to give the audience a feel for eastern European culture. Specifically the third arrangement, “Ratchenitsa,” varied with an influence of Bulgarian and Slavic roots. All three variations were played in complex time signatures to fit the style and rhythm of these traditional Balkan dances.
The second half of the program commenced with Azabagic’s rendition of Alan Thomas’ “Out of Africa.” Azabagic described this composition as an original five movement solo guitar piece in which the instrument plays the sounds of Africa, and the listener feels as if they are riding a camel and exploring through a jungle.
“Call at Sunrise” was the first movement in this piece, introducing the calm sounds of the desert. The guitarist plucked single notes and added variation by tapping on the wooden body of the instrument. These different techniques that Azabagic used added to the realism and quality of his performance. Particularly in the fourth movement, “Evening Dance,” Azabagic beautifully captured the night sounds of African animals, especially when his guitar produced a vibrato, and he played along the bridge beneath the sound hole.
Moliner accompanied her husband in the last songs of the performance. The final piece, “Fantasy on themes from ‘La Traviata,’” was another piece arranged by Thomas that had been commissioned by the Cavatina Duo. The Italian opera, which this composition was based off of, tells the tragedy of the main character Violetta.
In the piece, both flutist and guitarist played whimsically, giving the air of dreamlike melodies and free-form playing. As Moliner had described, the composition was a mix of many different repertoires and allowed for the flute to stand out on its own and play the leading line.
The duo held audience interest for the whole hour and a half that they played. The Cavatina Duo performed various pieces from a wide range of musical backgrounds. Both Moliner and Azabagic performed a wonderful recital through their unique interpretation and repertoire.