For a guitar pairing that’s been together for less that two years, the NOVA Guitar Duo sure is impressive! German Nelly von Alven met Brazilian Luiz Mantovani at the Royal College of Music in London—she was working on her master’s degree, he on his doctorate. They first clicked as friends, then became musical partners. (You can learn more in this nicely made introductory video.)

Here, in a 2017 video, Nelly and Luiz play Canción y Danza No. 6  by Spanish composer and pianist Federico Mompou (1893–1987). Between 1918 and 1972, Mompou wrote 15 Canción y Danzas, most based on traditional Catalan folk songs. No. 13, from 1972, was the only one actually written for guitar (it was dedicated to Narciso Yepes); the rest were written for piano (or, in one case, organ). No. 6 was published in 1947 and dedicated to Polish-born American pianist Arthur Rubinstein who, naturally, recorded it. (On YouTube, you can hear a recording of Mompou himself playing it in 1950.) The NOVA Guitar Duo arrangement is both lyrical and powerful; and all the richer for its exploitation of the combination of six-string (Nelly) and an 8-string (Luiz) guitars.


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Among many future activities, NOVA will be traveling to Hamburg in early April to record an album, and are scheduled to play in the Carnegie Recital Hall in November of this year. Clearly, a duo on the rise!  —Blair Jackson