Duo Catanza: guitarists Matthias Young and Scott Plato. (credit: Jon Ciliberto)

Duo Catanza plays a wide-ranging program for two guitars

Duo Catanza
February 12, 2023
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Atlanta, Georgia – USA
Scott Plato & Matthias Young, quitars.

Ferdinando CARULLI: Duet, Op. 34, No. 2 (“Largo,” “Rondo”)
Anon./arr. Christopher Parkening:“La Rossignol”, “Drewries Accorde”
Mauro GIULIANI: Polonaise Concertante, Op. 137, No. 2
Manuel De FALLA/arr. Scott Plato: “Dance of the Miller”
arr. Mathias Young: Sacred Folk Tunes, Medley & Fanfare (feat. “Resignation,” “Terra beata,” “Londonderry Air”)
Domenico SCARLATTI: Sonata K. 352
Domenico SCARLATTI: Sonata K. 377
Antonio VIVALDI: “Largo” from Concerto in D, RV93
Luigi BOCCHERINI/arr. Scott Plato: Menuett and Trio, Op. 11, No. 5
Giuseppe FARRAUTO: Morenita Do Brazil
Giuseppe FARRAUTO: Sentimento

Jon Ciliberto | 24 FEB 2023

Duo Catanza — guitarists Scott Plato and Matthias Young — performed a spirited program at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Sunday, February 12, 2023. The program ranged widely, from the Renaissance to the cafes of Venezuela in the 20th century.

The pair brought a light-hearted spirit in their whimsical comments from the stage and a lack of academic weight in their playing. The music on two guitars never felt that it was trying to fill in every moment, nor that two guitars have to mean twice as much music as one. Some duos would be tempted to over-ornament the two anonymous Renaissance pieces on the program, filling in the score’s rather spare accompanying parts (often two half-note triads or less per measure blocking out the chords). The duo’s lack of fussiness suited the approach they chose to bring to the performance.

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Mr. Young elaborated via email: “I don’t want to play to just a room full of guitar players — I want to play for people who love and enjoy music. That’s one thing that we’ve been very intentional about with our programming.”

Approaching music from the direction of enjoyment rather than academics is also reflected in their approach as teachers. Mr. Plato noted, “I have my students select songs they would like to play. I provide them with the essentials, such as scales, chords, reading music. I want them to enjoy the results of all their hard work.” Mr. Young, in a separate message provided a similar explanation: “As a teacher, I focus on building a foundation of solid technique and musical skills that can be adapted to music that students enjoy.”

At the performance on February 12, Mr. Plato played an Augustino Loprinzi guitar, and Mr. Young a Cordoba C12 designed by Kenny Hill.

Duo Catanza: guitarists Matthias Young and Scott Plato.  (credit: Jon Ciliberto)

Duo Catanza: guitarists Matthias Young and Scott Plato. (credit: Jon Ciliberto)

Plato founded the guitar department at Gainesville College in Gainesville, Georgia, and was the Head of Guitar Studies there until 2000, and is currently Head of Guitar Studies at Gordon State College. Young is the Director of Music and Worship at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and teaches guitar at Truett McConnell University.

Dance music bracketed the program. “Moliendo Cafe,” credited to Jose Manso (but the authorship is disputed), is a Venezuelan song that achieved worldwide popularity after its appearance in 1958. It even became a popular soccer chant for fans globally. A rather strummy tune — a rumba with flamenco techniques, often performed with percussion. It operated effectively as an opener, although the church’s large space led to a somewhat muffled sound from seven rows back. I subsequently moved up to the first row, providing a more detailed listening experience.

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The program jumped between works from the Renaissance, the Baroque, and the classical period, before closing with “Morenita Do Brazil” (a samba) and “Sentimento” (a tango) by the Sicilian composer Giuseppe Farrauto (1915-1979) Sicilian. The latter especially showed up the pair’s skill at tightly coordinated playing.

Giuliani’s “Polonaise Concertante” was played with a good rolling rhythm, an excellent way out bring out the piece’s dance-like qualities. One easily imagined, despite the setting, this work in its natural element: a Viennese salon.

The “Largo” from Vivaldi’s Concerto in D is a popular item for solo guitar, and in setting it for two instruments, the duo elected a “less, not more” approach that included a very spacious, slow tempo. Combining this with a somewhat emphasized dotted rhythm did lead to some difficulties, as the tempo tends to creep up in speed, and also, the transition from dotted to steady time does make for a challenging transition back to the theme. Given this tune’s well-worn status, however, innovative approaches are appreciated.

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Both “Drewries Accorde” and its companion piece “Le Rossignol” (“the Nightingale”) were included in the lute manuscript collection of Jane Pickering (~1616). “Drewries Accordes” includes “a series of imitations of bell sounds… probably those of the chimes of London churches” (Frederick Noad in his Renaissance Guitar), a fine choice, therefore, for a church setting.

The choice to include pieces familiar to the audience extended to the “Sacred Folk Tunes” medley, arranged by Mr. Young. “Terrra beata” was originally a traditional English folk tune, a variant of which (‘RUSPER’) appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906.

The duo gave the audience a rousing performance, using picks rather than fingers, in an improvisation over an Andalusian chord progression. Mr. Young noted that while using picks on classical guitars is “somewhat unorthodox, we did grow up playing in rock bands…” Asking about his interest in metal guitar playing, he replied via email: “Yngwie Malmsteen has always been an inspiration to me. His right hand picking technique has been a primary influence in how I approach both playing and teaching classical, acoustic, and electric guitar, and blending the techniques together.”

A video of the performance from Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is available to view on Vimeo (concert begins at about ten minutes in):


About the author:
Jon Ciliberto is an attorney, writes about music and the arts, makes music, draws, and strives at being a barely functional classical guitarist.