Folias Duo: Dreaming to Live
Folias Music

As wonderful as these duet performances are by flutist Carmen Maret and guitarist Andrew Bergeron, what makes them even more appealing is that they're not exercises in Debussy-lite Impressionism (not that there's anything wrong with that) but instead energized performances that reflect Folias Duo's passion for the tango, South American folk, classical music, and Astor Piazzolla. And while two of the Argentine master's compositions are included, ten of the thirteen are originals by the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based husband-and-wife duo that offer more than their share of listening pleasures. Enhancing the music's presentation is the high production quality of the hour-long album, the duo's first on their own Folias Music label, which was recorded at the world-class Sono Luminus Studios in Virginia.

That the two have been performing together since the early 2000s is borne out by the high calibre of these performances. Maret's sinuous flute, alto flute, and piccolo playing is a constant delight, while Bergeron's deft finger-picking makes as strong an impression. The purity of her tone and the unerring precision of his guitar work are an enticing combination, and both repeatedly show themselves to be versatile and accomplished players capable of meeting the music's formidable challenges. Though the album generally hews to its Argentine music theme from start to finish, the selections are smartly sequenced to maximize listening engagement. Multi-movement pieces separately authored by Maret and Bergeron open the album, after which the latter's nine-minute “Folias Variations” appears; Piazzolla's pair and Carlos Aguirre's “Milonga Gris” come next, followed by the duo's “Impossible Eclipse.”

For her opening five-movement Naturaleza Suite, Maret drew upon Argentine dance forms, the tango naturally but also lesser known ones such as the zamba, chamamé, and chacarera. The result is material that's not only melodically compelling but engages rhythmically, whether it be “Rio Sin Tiempo,” a mystery-laden evocation in 5/4 time, the alluring “Mantis Religiosa,” or the high-spirited “Snake Dreams.” Bergeron effectively structures his Phoenix Trilogy by framing its faster outer movements, “Clock Time” and “Living Now,” with the reflective “Dreaming to Live,” and then spins eleven entrancing variations of tempo, mood, and dynamics for “Folias Variations,” some of them delicate and lilting, others rapid and free-flowing. Piazzolla's “Resurreccion del Angel” receives a haunting treatment, with Bergeron nicely replicating the original's bass line and Marat its bewitching melodies, after which the duo etches the taut lines of “Escualo” with precision and elevates Aguirre's piece with jazz-inflected swing.

Incidentally, the black-and-white photography by Maret that adorns the front cover and fills the accompanying twenty-four-page booklet serves more than a decorative purpose; the two hand-made pinhole cameras she used to take the photographs require lengthy exposure times, in the case of Teddy Lake Sky at Dusk four-and-a-half minutes. In her own words, “Anything really worth seeing, or hearing, takes time,” a stance well worth attending to in a selfie-mad culture seemingly incapable of focusing attention on anything for longer than a moment. In that regard, Dreaming to Live certainly rewards one's time and attention.

June 2017