Thursday, August 28, 2003

Dynamic Duo rescues obscure work

Combo commissions edgy pieces and combs catalogs for violin-guitar music

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Beth Schneider-Gould and Matt Gould are Duo46 - an unusual and increasingly popular combination of violin and guitar.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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Violin and guitar - it's an unusual combo. But Duo46 - violinist Beth Schneider-Gould and guitarist Matt Gould - are discovering that the combination is hot.

"Every day we get inquiries," says Schneider-Gould, 33, a Wyoming High School grad and onetime Prep student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

"Right now, we're self-managed, and I can handle this. But I can see in another year, I'm not going to be able to do it," says Gould, 38, her husband.

The duo's newest CD, Untaming the Fury (Summit Records), a hip menu of music by mostly thirtysomething composers - all commissioned by Duo46 - is turning heads. Reviews in Gramophone and The Strad magazines have resulted in two American tours, with more planned. Their album is getting lots of radio play, from New Zealand to Syracuse, N.Y.

Now, with stepped-up demand for concerts, workshops and recordings, the two musicians are hard-pressed to fit it all between academic semesters. They teach at Eastern Mediterranean University on the island of Cyprus, the only university that had faculty openings in both violin and guitar. (They did fit in a visit this month with family in Hyde Park.)

For information about Duo46 and the composers on Untaming the Fury (Summit Records; $18.98), visit The album is sold locally at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood, music stores or Web site.
Their name, Duo46, comes from the strings on their instruments (four and six). Their mission is new music - edgy, cutting-edge, over-the top. Their commissioning project has not only created a unique niche, but it also has added substantially to the repertoire of violin music with guitar.

Take the piece "How the Hell are You Feeling?'' by Kristi McGarity - a tour de force of extremes in both instruments, searing glissandos and rhythmic taps on the guitar case. Or "Sonata 46" by Anthony Lanman, pairing Gould's liquid-gold guitar tone with Schneider-Gould's bolts of electricity.

The catalog of music for violin and guitar was slim when they began playing together at the University of Arizona in 1994. The musicians quickly exhausted the list - mostly 19th-century pieces.

"When we finished that, we thought, 'What's next?' " Gould says. "We had to do some research."

To date, Gould has unearthed about 500 works. One of the most interesting is "Goodbye" by Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in which the musicians lean over and play each other's instruments.

Their commissioning project was officially launched in 1998 in Cincinnati, when they performed at Music '98, a festival of new music at CCM. There, the duo met a number of emerging rock composers.

Since then, Duo46 has commissioned more than 30 works. Their reputation is growing: These days, established composers are calling them. They have started branching out, adding viola or piano.

Still, it hasn't been easy to get past the "new music" stigma.

"We've had people walk out," admits Schneider-Gould. "We try to prepare them. It's necessary for people to have something to grab onto, to prepare them for the jazz element or the folk melody."

"When we actually get in the door and play, we change opinions about new music," Gould says. "It defines us, it defines what we're doing and it's fascinating."


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