Reviews – Duo Tapas – Wellington guitar and violin duo
Duo Tapas
Duo Tapas
Duo Tapas


Duo Tapas – Exotic Lunchtime Fare at Old St.Paul’s

By Peter Mechen, September 7, 2010, Middle C.

Duo Tapas Rupa Maitra (violin) / Owen Moriarty (guitar) de FALLA – Cinco Canciones Populares Espanolas / IMAMOVIC – Sarajevo Nights : Jamilla’s Dance PIAZZOLLA – Histoire du Tango / KROUSE- Da Chara Old St.Paul’s Lunchtime Concert Series Tuesday, 7th September, 2010

Something about the splendid ornateness of the interior of Old St.Paul’s Church, if not especially Moorish or Iberian, suited the exoticism of parts of the programme presented by violinist Rupa Maitra and guitarist Owen Moriarty on Tuesday at lunchtime, part of an excellent series of concerts organised for performance at the church. Ever approximate, I arrived late for the concert’s beginning, picking up what I thought was the third piece, Cancion, of the Cinco Canciones populares Espanolas by Falla, an entry-point which immersed me into a world of dark, sultry atmospheres and insinuations, a mournful melody expressed in lovely, earthy accents and tones . A central section took a more cheerful major-key aspect, the transition further demonstrating the rapport of interplay and balance between violinist and guitarist. Both played with a nice touch of “pesante” impulsiveness, textures and rhythms brought to life. They then played what I figured was Asturiana, a slow, langurous violin melody, soaring over an octave ostinato for guitar, beautifully sustained by both musicians. Finally came Polo, the violin giving voice to passionate declamations over driving guitar rhythms, quintessentially Spanish, and realised with lots of life and colour. Owen Moriarty inroduced the next item, two pieces by the Los Angeles-based composer Almer Imamovic which, if not exactly Spanish, had an exoticism of their own. Originally written for flute and guitar, their character was appropriately realised by the violin’s range of colour and timbre – the first, Sarajevo Nights, danced a sinuous, melancholy melody with asymmetrical rhythms, both instruments creating tensions with tremolando passages, and the guitarist augmenting the music’s trajectories by knocking his instrument’s body with his hand. The second piece, Jamilla’s Dance, began with cimbalon-like tones from the guitarist and pesante-like slides and colours from the violin, all extremely evocative and colourful. Beginning like the traditional Jewish hora, the dance slowly and suggestively stepped out, increased gradually in vigour and excitement, but suddenly releasing surges of energy, rather like a Hungarian czardas. The musicians recreated the piece’s pent-up excitement with verve and enjoyment. Famed South American composer Astor Piazzolla was next, with his suite of pieces Histoire du Tango. Listed as a four-movement work, I could discern only three sections, though maybe Rupa Maitra did allude to this in her soft-spoken introduction to the performance, the words of which I had trouble catching. The first section, entitled Bordel – 1900, is a kind of picture of Buenos Aires at the turn of the century, a work expressing the composer’s playful, more sunnily-disposed side, indulging himself occasionally with a sultry swerve into a different episode, but generally keeping things light and evenly-poised, the violin catching the piece’s light and shade, and the guitarist keeping the rhythms going using both strings and percussion effects. The second piece, Cafe – 1930 gave us the true tango, Piazzolla-style, darker and more pensive, a guitar solo filled with dreamy melancholy, and the violin really digging into a melody laden with feeling, the tone tight and focused, carrying as much weight as it needs and no more. A major-key episode lightened both colour and rhythm, before the music again gathered and wrapped all around in more sultry atmospheres. The third piece, Nightclub – 1960, was mentioned, but not listed as played – instead we seemed to get Concert d’aujourd’hui (Contemporary concert), a piece featuring off-beat harmonies and angular melodies of the garrulous and gossipy type, a kind of “up-dating” by the composer regarding his more developed style of writing, and that of the tango itself, influenced greatly by jazz. A fascinating work, skilfully presented. Finishing the programme with a piece by American composer Ian Krouse, Owen Moriarty assured us that this was one of the easier Krouse pieces to play – its title Da Chara, is Gaelic for “Two Friends”, and was, like the pieces by Almer Imamovic, written originally for flute and guitar. Its ostensible “Gaelic” character could be discerned in the free and airy opening melodic phrasings from the violin, with their occasional rhythmic snap, the guitar taking over with a solo, then joined by the violin to repeat the opening melody – very attractive ‘filmic” kind of music and skilfully realised. The guitar began a march-rhythm, joined by the violin, the players further energising the music with a wild, reel-like dance, the players letting their hair down in great style, Rupa Maitra catching the folk-fiddle aspect of the music nicely, and Owen Moriarty generating surges of energy from his instrument.

Delightful lunchtime recital from violin and guitar

By Lindis Taylor, July 26, 2011 (Middle C)


Unfamiliar music for violin and guitar works charms

Music by Almer Imamovic, Anthony Ritchie, Ciprian Porumbescu, and Ian Krouse

Duo Tapas (Rupa Maitra – violin; Owen Moriarty – guitar)

Old Saint Paul’s, Mulgrave Street

Tuesday 26 July, 12.15pm

A concert like this usually offers a variety of surprises: there’s the unexpected delight from particularly charming pieces of music, and there were several such instances; the experience of an unusual instrumental combination and the way music originally for others has adapted so well; and the realization that the world has never been so overflowing with beautiful, rewarding music – most of it, naturally, to be broadly labeled as ‘classical’.

The uncovering of hundreds of gifted composers of earlier times, who have come to be overshadowed by a handful of geniuses with names like Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, has given classical music a very different look over the past half century, with the realization that many of them sometimes produced better music than the ‘great’ ones did, on their off-days.

And in our age, there are so many talented composers in every country that no one could even claim familiarity with the names of many of the best of them.

Almer Imamovic is a good example: a guitarist and composer from Bosnia whom Owen Moriarty came to know when both were studying in Wales.

The pieces by Imamovic were originally written for flute and guitar, but the violin seemed the perfectly natural voice for the melodic lines. The Song for Marcus opened in up-beat style, bearing more sign of Turkish origin than of the Balkans, though of course most of the region was part of the Ottoman Empire for many centuries and there is a sizable Muslim minority in Bosnia. Based on two related tunes in the energetic opening section, then passing to a calmer middle section, the two instruments were in perfect balance and made one oblivious to the quite other character of the timbered gothic church where we sat.

Their final offerings were Theme for Caroline and Tapkalica, clearly from a similar source, the first a charming, simple melody which evolved very interestingly to subtly syncopated rhythms. In the second, the guitar began alone, with rhapsodic cadenzas which came to be a fine show-piece for the lovely musicality of violinist and the fleet-fingered guitarist.

The only piece from a dead composer, who came from the same part of the world, was that of Cyprian Porumbescu (from Romania: 1853-83). His Balada was filled with a Balkan nostalgia, exquisitely soulful but in music that found an equally captivating way to express quiet passion.

Ian Krouse is a Californian composer for guitar and other instruments (Wikipedia reveals an opera on Garcia Lorca); evidently eclectic, as his Air had an Irish tang in the lie of its melody; this too had its origin for flute and guitar and was more than comfortable in this perfectly idiomatic and charming account for violin and guitar.

Pieces by Anthony Ritchie occupied the rest of the programme. There are five parts to his Pas de deux, Op 51a, originally scored for two guitars; they chose Au revoir, evidently inspired by the end of a relationship which it described in lamenting but not lugubrious terms, using quite simple means to create an elegiac spirit; again, like the Balada, with a degree of suppressed passion.

It was not always easy to hear the remarks by the performers and I’m not sure whether it was pointed out that the Three Songs were a transcription of Ritchie’s Op 118 (Three pieces for viola and guitar). The title as given in the programme does not appear in his list of works.

Never mind.

Ritchie is one of those happy composers with sufficient self-confidence to allow tunes to appear in their music on a regular basis, and Au revoir and the Three Songs for Violin and Guitar (‘Song – Stone woman: a sculpture in Ilam Road, Christchurch’; ‘Tomahawk Sonnet’ and ‘Lovesong’) were so blessed. I had awaited a touch of Maori ferocity in the Tomahawk piece, but was later told it was the name of Ocean Grove, a suburb of Dunedin on the south coast of the Peninsula. It suggested a peaceful day. And the same went for Lovesong in which Ritchie seemed to be showing evidence of a heart repaired from the grief of Au revoir.

I’d heard none of this music before and the whole recital proved a delight, thanks to composers who knew their business and players who absolutely knew theirs.

Duo Tapas return for more violin and guitar music

By , March 7, 2012

Music by Krouse, Anthony Ritchie, Lilburn, Imamovic, Piazzolla, and Bartók

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday 7 March, 12.15pm

 Duo Tapas has become a fairly familiar presence on Wellington’s chamber music circuit over the past couple of years, even though the combination of violin and guitar has not been a major musical genre, or one that has drawn scores of composers to write major works.

Nevertheless, the music that this attractive duo turns up is always attractive, serving to dispel the notion that classical music consists entirely of great masterpieces by great geniuses all of whom are dead.

These musicians show that very listenable programmes can be built with music written by living composers from all over the world, including some who are their friends.  (All of it has been arranged for this combination from other originals). The names Krouse and Imamovic, as well as Ritchie, and some of the same music – Da Chara for example – have appeared in their earlier concerts.

The latter piece, by Ian Krouse, began with a deliberate or accidental hesitation, but it seemed altogether in keeping with its subdued Irish accents, with hesitant rhythms, the slight fragility in the violinist’s playing, evolving towards the end into a faster dance.

The New Zealand department of the recital consisted of an arrangement by Anthony Ritchie of one his own Five Dunedin Songs of 1996: Stone Woman. It had a bluesy, ‘country’ character , the guitar injecting curious figures alongside the violin’s flowing line. And Lilburn’s Canzona (not Canzonetta) No 1 followed: it seems belatedly to have become a genuinely popular piece (I think it made the RNZ Concert New Year’s Day Count-down), perhaps in a similar class to Farquhar’s Ring Round the Moon music, and similarly perhaps, not highly rated by the composer, misled during those benighted years in which melodies were scorned as a mark of non-seriousness or commercialism. The guitar part seemed the perfect accompaniment, while the violin’s velvety bowing was quite enchanting.

In a recital last year the duo played music by Bosnia-born Almar Imamovic, whom Moriarty met while studying in Los Angeles.  Hints of a modal scale could be detected in Jamilla’s Dance (played in their 2010 recital at Old St Paul’s), and a characteristic Balkan, perhaps Greek touch was present as the dance slowed. It was a slight piece, though effective, given a spirited and careful performance.  A second scheduled piece by Imamovic was omitted for reasons of time.

The two pieces by Piazzolla were in marked contrast. (Incidentally, try looking him up in any music dictionary more than 15 years old, even New Grove: he’s only recently been promoted into the ranks of ‘classical’ music). The first, Oblivión, was a slow tango whose tension was probably as hard to sustain as it would have been to dance to (the emotional state called up makes me think of the evocation of the tango in Kapka Kassabova’s recent memoir/novel on the subject). It’s a condition comparable to a slow elegiac aria, in long phrases, calling for extraordinary breath control. The violin remained on its upper strings while the guitar carefully picked out supporting motifs.

Libertango was a more conventional exemplar of the Argentinian dance in speed and rhythm, the player tapping the guitar body as he picked out the tune around which the violin weaved a counter-melody.

To end, the duo played Bartók’s six Romanian Dances, all quite short but in vivid contrast one with another. Bartók wrote them for publication as piano pieces; Székely arranged them for violin and piano and they in turn were arranged for guitar and violin by Arthur Levering.

The instrumentation brought them back closer to their peasant origins, arresting and strong-minded or languid, sometimes complex in rhythm, sometimes calling for a harsh bow on the strings. All very striking and an excellent way to end a very agreeable recital by excellent, skilled musicians.

Duo Tapas demonstrate purity of tone


This week’s lunchtime concert at Marama Hall had me reminiscing (further back in time than I like to think) of a little girl call Rupa Maitra, who came to Saturday Morning Music classes, proudly carrying her quarter-sized violin.

Now with a career in pathology, Maitra is also a professional violinist, and has just released a CD with Wellington guitarist Owen Moriarty, who already has considerable international and local performing experience.

Together, they perform as Duo Tapas and their music gives one renewed appreciation of the beauty of melody and purity of tone.

Their opening number Da Chara (Gaelic for Two Friends), by North American composer Ian Krouse (1956-), was unmistakably traditionally Irish, as lingering melodies returned time and again with variations, to finally culminate in an energetic reel.

Anthony Ritchie’s 3 Pieces for Violin and Guitar (1996) re-scored especially for Duo Tapis, featured elements of folk intermingled with jazz, and sat well with this particular instrumental combination.

My favourite was Tomahawk Sonnet, an expression of grief, so musically passionate and nostalgic.

In 1992, Anthony Ritchie composed Pas de Deux as a sequence of five dances for two guitars. The duo delivered two dances, Prelude and Au Revoir, with fine interpretation while negotiating the rhythmic intricacies of this stronger more contemporary work.

Douglas Lilburn’s Canzonetta No.1 (arr. Moriarty) featured stunning violin lyricism, underpinned with regular chordal harmonies from guitar.

Traditional Macedonian folk music numbers by Bosnian composer Almer Imamovic were Jamilla’s Dance, which included a popular Bosnian love song, and Jovano, Jovanke, an exciting dramatic work with subtle flamenco, jazz and pop, but steadfastly upholding traditional elements of East European harmonies and fiery gypsy dance routines.

- Written by Elizabeth Bouman.


Review of concert on 8th July 2012
(The Devonport Flagstaff, 3rd August, 2012)

Stringing Out a Perfect Day

Where were the rest of you? The Devonport Chamber Orchestra (DCO) concert on Sunday 8th July featured a talented Wellington duo of guitar (Owen Moriarty) and violin (Rupa Maitra). Only sixty grown-ups and six juniors showed up – the rest of you missed it. Such a pity, you missed a treat.

Being tolerably familiar wth Vivaldi’s guitar concerto I admit I had somewhat expected an afternoon of pleasant enough sounds. What a surprise was in store for me!

The cloudless and windless day had been a joy for a start. My stroll along the harbour’s edge to North Head and back had me speechless with peace. Lunch in the sun left me even more mellow yet.

And then I was shocked into awareness by the acoustic immediacy of the Depot Artspace setting and a whole series of unexpected musical delights. The size of the orchestra and balance of instruments seemed even better suited to the two Vivaldi Concerti than the recordings by larger and more famous orchestras I had heard before. Tonal distinctions between violin, guitar, and orchestra were acute and marked. For example, when the strings were playing really really softly behind the two solo instruments, I could hear their breathy excitation of bows on strings microseconds before the notes sounded. Never heard THAT before.

The Bartok Roumanian dances were also familiar, though again from recordings. The difference here was a vigorous and dynamic delivery from both soloists that utterly matched the origins and cultures of Transylvania. All six dances were markedly enriched by the transcription to violin and guitar. The split of melody to violin and chordal support to guitar is way better than any piano version I’ve ever heard.

Ian Krouse’s Air had all the poignancy and timelessness of any other Gaelic tune I’ve ever heard, either traditional or more recently composed. Captured well by him and rendered effortlessly and hauntingly by our violin and guitar soloists on the day.

Almer Imamovic’s wee piece, ‘Jovano, Jovanke’, proved to be another refreshing melting-pot of musical flavours. I’m always tantalised by echoes of Spain. This one was a lovely teaser. I will seek out and listen to more of his compositions.

Our final dessert was the Vivaldi Concerto originally written for Viola d’Amore and lute. This proved to be a little sparse somehow for my taste. I put it down to the orchestra playing a long series of individual notes rather than spoken sentences or a musical conversation. The extra sympathetic strings of those original Baroque instruments might well add the desirable and intriguing complexity to the piece that was missing for me. In spite of this, the ensemble playing seemed somehow better blended than earlier in the concert. Maybe everyone was more thoroughly warmed up by then. A splendid finale to echo around the soul on the way home.

All in all, an excellent and surprising musical occasion in its variety of melody and emotional tone. Where was every body? Be sure not to miss the next DCO offering on Sunday 26th August at 2pm in the Depot Artspace.

By Jefferson Chapple

Duo Tapas appetizing at Old St.Paul’s

By , July 24, 2012

Old St.Paul’s Lunchtime Concert Series

Duo Tapas

Rupa Maitra (violin) / Owen Moriarty (guitar)


Old St.Paul’s Church, Thorndon

Tuesday July 24th 2012

Every now and then one hear something played at a concert which startles the sensibilities into momentary confusion. As when one turns on the radio and encounters something familiar mid-stream, the thought starts to drum away with the music: – “Now, just what is this?”

The Paganini work, Centone di Sonata No.1 which opened this duo recital sounded at first like a transcription of the beginning of the Mahler Fifth Symphony, played on a solo violin – a one-note “call to arms” dominating the opening. The attractive allegro maestoso which followed featured some fine flourishes and an exciting dynamic range -a more lyrical central section brought some major-key sunshine to the A-minor opening of the work.

Interestingly,  Paganini knew a lot about the guitar, partly perhaps because of having earned to play the mandolin before the violin. He once declared that “The violin is my mistress, but the guitar is my master”, and wrote a lot for the guitar in a chamber-music context, not just accompaniments, but with a virtuosity in places which was admired by his fellow-musicians at the time.

One wonders whether the composer’s interest in the guitar was due to its association with romance – Paganini did have a liaison with a “mystery woman” who played the guitar herself, one who possibly was the composer’s “muse” for a time, considering the number of works he wrote involving the instrument.

This work , and the Vivaldi D Minor Sonata from 1709 that followed, brought out lovely tones from the violinist, Rupa Maitra, and sensitive, perfectly-judged partnering lines from guitarist Owen Moriarty. The violinist’s very focused sound served Vivaldi particularly well, bright, Italianate tones lightening the textures and the wood-grainy, muted surrounding of the church’s interior. The character of both the slow, grave Minuet and the more vigorous finale with its different bowing and dynamic contrasts was nicely presented.

Giovanni Seneca (mis-spelled as”Senenca” in the programme) a Neapolitean guitarist and composer, born in 1967, contributed two works to the recital, Balkan Fantasy and Mazel Tov. I liked the second piece better – the first I thought somewhat filmic, a bit all-purpose, like something one might hear in a bar or restaurant – though some of the double-stopping seemed quite demanding, in places, parts of which sounded a bit strained. More interesting, I thought, was Mazel Tov, a work beginning as a slow dance, the notes “bent” for expressive purposes, with very soft playing at first from both musicians, but fuelling up as the music’s catchiness and energy increasingly took hold, the players bringing off a triumphant finish.

Some indigenous Spanish music followed, by Sarasate and Granados. I enjoyed reading George Bernard Shaw’s comment regarding Sarasate, to the effect that though there were many composers  of music for the violin, there were few of “violin music”, and that Sarasate’s playing (he was a virtuoso violinist as well as a composer) for Shaw “left criticism gasping miles behind him”. His Spanish Dances are popular encore pieces for virtuosi, intended to show off what the performer could do. Rupa Maitra captured the sinuous, haunting quality of “Playera”, the first of the composer’s set of Op.23 Dances. Though intonation wasn’t flawless what mattered as much was the atmosphere and the tonal flavourings of the piece, brought out here strongly.

I thought the famous Dance No.5 from Sarasate’s countryman Granados’s own set of Danzas Españolas which followed took a while to find its “point” here, in the wake of the Sarasate. It seemed to me that the playing could have done with a bit less legato throughout the opening (my ears perhaps too attuned to hearing the piece as a work for solo guitar) and the intonation was again a bit edgy on one or two violin notes – but when it came to the middle section, there was suddenly more distinction, like a lover’s musing upon a memory, the violinist making nice distinctions between registers. And where the guitar takes over the theme and the violin decorates was quite enchanting – lovely, soft arpeggiations. I thought Owen Moriarty mis-hit a chord during the reprise, but the playing recovered its poise to deliver a beautiful concluding note to the piece, a “was it all a dream?” kind of impulse…..

The concert finished with Jovano, Jovanke, a work by Bosnian guitarist and composer Almer Imamovic, an arrangement of an old Macedonian song about two young lovers in a “Romeo and Juliet” scenario. The music reflects the emotional turmoil of the two young people in their situation, soulful at the beginning, angular and rhythmically syncopated , with very Middle-Eastern kind of melodic contourings and flavorings, the music building up to great excitement by the end. Bravo!

IAN DANDO reviews some summery sounds. (Listener January 31, 2015)

Owen Moriarty, arguably our best guitarist, and violinist Rupa Maitra have amazing flair for innovative music that has instant rhythmic appeal. The two tracks here by Bosnia’s Zaim Imamovié are a folk song apiece from Macedonia and Turkey, and both are rendered with an infectiously asymmetric vigour. Two works by North America’s Ian Krause have a distinct Middle Eastern folk flavour. Miramar by Spain’s Pablo Sarasate has a catchy presto 5/8 metre and a melody that soars well above the power lines with the highest of notes. Similarly, it’s asymmetric rhythmic angularity and piquant dissonances that drive two folkish works by Poland’s Marek Pasieczny. This is a strong buy for lovers of rare folkloric flavour with an asymmetric tang. INCANTATION, Duo Tapas (Ode).

Duo Tapas: violin and guitar play winning St Andrew’s lunchtime concert

By , 05/08/2015

Duo Tapas (Rupa Maitra – violin, Owen Moriarty – guitar)

Vivaldi: Sonata in A minor, Op 2 No 12, RV 32
Mark O’Connor: pieces from Strings and Threads Suite
Arvo Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel, arr, Moriarty
William Squire: Tarantella in D minor, Op 23, arr Moriarty

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday 5 August, 12:15 pm

Duo Tapas is a fairly visible little ensemble on the Wellington music scene; but it pays not to take them for granted, as playing much the same repertoire, with minor variations in their frequent concerts. It could be because I haven’t heard a couple of their recent concerts that this programme was entirely new to me.

They began with Rudolph Buttman’s arrangement of one of Vivaldi’s violin sonatas, the last of the set published as Opus 2. The programme listed the movements as Preludio, Allemande, Grave and Capriccio. Other sources offer different movement titles: Preludio, Capriccio, Grave, Corrente; or Preludio – Largo, Capriccio – Presto, Grave, Allemanda – Allegro. Of course I did not discover these variations till I explored the internet later; no doubt they reflected the liberties publishers felt able to take in the 18th century.

I wondered during the performance about the appropriateness of the titles, and had jotted a puzzled note that the last movement hardly sounded ‘capricious’ – rather, just brisk.

Never mind.
The duo were absolutely justified in taking up this successful arrangement of one of Vivaldi’s many lovely pieces, more than usually melodious, sounding as if he had the guitar very much in mind when he cast the continuo lines (for cello and harpsichord).

Mark O’Connor is an American composer, now in his early 60s, who has devoted himself to listenable, rather infectious music. The title refers, obviously, to the stringed instrument and the threads connecting the thirteen little movements in the suite, a sort of history of United States popular music, offering examples of many styles of music from Irish reels and sailors’ songs of the 16th century to recent times. They played ten of them. I had counted only eight when they ended, which was probably the result of failing to notice a pause and change of style. There was a convincing sense of anticipation with Off to Sea, as the sails picked up the wind; the last piece, Sweet Suzanne was the longest, most bravura and arresting: a colourful and entertaining collection.

Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel is nearly as popular as his Fratres: hypnotic, a masterpiece of simplicity. The translation for violin and guitar involved retuning the bottom E string of the guitar to a low F, to deal with the repeated anchor. Rupa Maitra played it with just discreet vibrato and a riveting stillness. Again, a very convincing transformation.

Finally, there was a piece by William Squire, a name that was once, perhaps still, very familiar to cello students. He edited a series of albums of varying difficulty: I still have two of them, as well, to my surprise, as the Tarantella in D minor, played here. It didn’t make a deep impression on me sixty-odd years ago, but this version worked very well, though I could not argue that the duo had unearthed a masterpiece. Nevertheless, the character of the two instruments, the players’ rapport and the way in which their musical instincts combined might have brought the most unpromising composition to life.

Don’t hesitate to get along to their next concert, wherever it might be.



Exploratory and interesting offerings from the engaging Duo Tapas

By , 09/03/2016

Duo Tapas: Rupa Maitra – violin and Owen Moriarty – guitar

Pachelbel: Chaconne in D minor (arr. Anton Hoger)
Telemann: Sonata in A minor TWV 41 (arr. Edward Grigassy)
Granados: Spanish Dances, Op 37, Nos 2 and 11 (arr. Vesa Kuokannen)
Alan Thomas: From The Balkan Songbook: Haj Mene MajkaThe Shepherd’s DreamSivi Grivi

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday 9 March, 12:15 pm

Duo Tapas have been long-standing ornaments at St Andrew’s lunchtime concerts and are enterprising in the range of music they find to perform. That of course is due mainly to the lack of music written specifically for the two instruments, although the pair lend themselves readily to music for violin and piano and for the guitar, accompanying many other instruments.

Unusually, they began with a piece by Pachelbel for organ which might have seemed a stretch. The result was far from it as so much baroque music does not seem to be designed with particular instrumental sounds in mind. (which, dare I say, often makes our generation’s obsession with authentic performance, using instruments that get as close as possible to those of the period, seem a bit precious). To start with, the melodic characteristics of this chaconne reminded one of his famous Canon; but it went much further, to elaborate the themes more fancifully than happens in the Canon, so demonstrating that Pachelbel was not only more than a one-hit wonder, but a worthy contemporary of Bach’s predecessors such as Buxtehude (he was Buxtehude’s contemporary, of the generation of Corelli, Purcell, Alessandro Scarlatti, Biber, Charpentier, Marin Marais…).

The music breathed, and seemed to relish the experience of instruments that so clarified and illuminated the sounds as the violin and guitar did.  Sure, it wasn’t Bach, but an awareness of the mind and the sounds of Bach did not work to its detriment.

Telemann was born 30 years after Pachelbel, and lived most of his life in the northern parts of Germany – Saxony, Thuringia, Hamburg – and he was immensely prolific. The sonata, TWV 41 was originally for oboe and continuo and again sounded charming as arranged, though I suspect that the slow, lyrical Siciliana first movement might have been more beguiling with an oboe. This, and indeed all the movements were short, without much embellishment or repetition of the tunes.

The second movement was entitled simply Spirituoso , more lively with the two players exploiting the light and shade with fluency and warmth even though the guitar had little more than a routine accompaniment to handle. The Andante did rather create the feeling of a stroll through shady woods, the recipe for relief from the busy life as musical director of Hamburg’s five main churches (the breathtaking baroque interior of St Michaelis adorns the desktop of my computer; I ticked off all five churches in a visit a few years ago).  Though the Vivace movement was lively enough, it was also vapid and forgettable; the performance however drew even more from the music than was really there.

Two of Granados’s Spanish Dances were much more enjoyable. No 2, Orientale and No 11, Zambra were both familiar; these were the high point of the rectal. In the enchanting Orientale the violin generates a particularly warm, liquid atmosphere with its beguiling melodies while the guitar unobtrusively supported her in elegant arpeggios. In the Zambra, Maitra’s dark, sensuous violin maintained a somber quality through music that was superficially more spirited, and while Moriarty’s guitar was confined in the main to arpeggios, but he took advantage of a lively repeat of the main tune in the middle section. Granados’s music is rather neglected these days: as well as the popular No 5, Andaluza, most of this set of twelve dances deserve to be more played. And I am reminded of the fine 1998 Meridian recording by Richard Mapp of a good selection of the piano music.

The web-site of American guitarist/composer Alan Thomas shows that his ‘work-in-progress’ The Balkan Songbook has eleven pieces in it so far. The Duo played three of them. Haj Mene Majka (which Google Translate shows as Croatian, meaning ‘Hi my mother’) certainly has the character of peasant Croatian music with its fast South Slavic decorations, and the apostrophe to the composer’s mother is arresting rather than affectionate.

The Shepherd’s Dream starts with the violin alone and slowly swells beyond the dream state; this too is described in the notes as Croatian, though introduced with a few words of W B Yeats, ‘And I dreamed my lost love came stealthily out of the wood’. (It’s from ‘He tells of a valley full of lovers’ from the collection The Wind among the Reeds. I was impressed that the composer was so familiar with the huge body of Yeats’s poetry that he could light upon this).  And indeed, the words seem to align with the music which slowly diminishes and ceases.

Sivi Grivi was said to be based on a Bulgarian dance, but the ever-reliable Google Translate identified the words as Slovenian, meaning ‘Gray mane’. The guitar begins with a hesitant meandering; the violin soon joins to create a dance rhythm of increasing energy to an exciting finish.

As always, I found this musical duo interesting, musical and exploratory, with a nice mixture of the known and the unknown; just the thing for midday, leaving the rest of the day to reflect and explore further.



Incantation. Rupa Maitra (violin), Owen Moriarty (guitar). Ode CD

In early 2010, New Zealanders Maitra and Moriarty formed Duo Tapas, the duo having a repertoire ranging from Vivaldi and Paganini through to De Falla and Bartok, plus more recent eastern Europe composers.

They perform musical styles ranging from Baroque through to 20th century, including works influenced by folk music of Spain, eastern Europe, Japan, Ireland and New Zealand.

This has 15 tracks including Lilburn’s Canzonetta, and Vivaldi’s Sonata in D minor.

English composer John Ellerton (1801-1873) is heard in a Tarantella, Piazzolla provided Oblivion, and Miramar is by Sarasate.

There are four nice pieces by Vivaldi and two each from Imamovic, Pasieczny and Krouse.

This unusual combination has a fine purity of tone.

I particularly liked their Vivaldi.

Verdict: Duo worth hearing

Review of Concert on 13th Nov 2016, 2pm
(The Devonport Flagstaff, 9th Dec 2016)

Duo Tapas with the Devonport Chamber Orchestra

The recent concert of the Devonport Chamber Orchestra at Holy Trinity Church, Devonport on Sunday 13th November, featured Duo Tapas. This Wellington-based duo of Rupa Maitra (violin) and Owen Moriarty (guitar) has performed before in Devonport, both in solo recital and with the Devonport Chamber Orchestra. What a winning team, ably supported by the orchestra led by Helen Crook and conducted by Warwick Robinson!

The programme provided opportunities for each soloist to present a solo work – Maitra in Bach’s A minor Violin Concerto and Moriarty in Guitar Concerto in A major by Giuliani.

The Bach was played with great sensitivity of phrasing and beauty of tone and tempo. The orchestra provided solid support throughout. The opening movement with its sunny and joyous optimism was followed by a very serene interpretation of the slow movement before the lively and vigorous final movement.

The Giuliani was less familiar, one of three written by this composer in the early nineteenth century during a period of great development in guitar repertoire. The three movements were based on dances of the time. Moriarty was more than equal to the challenges of the virtuosic writing, producing technical brilliance as well as stylish rubato and bell-like tone.

The most challenging of the programme’s three works was the concerto for Violin and Guitar by Alan Thomas. Composed in 2009, originally for flute and guitar, the work is equally effective for violin and guitar. The performers who originally commissioned it were from Bosnia and Spain, and the work draws on the folk melodies and rhythms of those two countries. Although obviously technically very testing with its rapid variations in tempo and rhythm it was instantly accessible to the audience, and the soloists and orchestra were equal to its challenges, as the audience’s enthusiastic response demonstrated.

This was the Devonport Chamber Orchestra’s final concert for 2016 and the regular and loyal audience members will be looking forward keenly to what feasts may be in store in 2017.

Review by Rogan Falla