Video Pick of the Week: Duo Dryades (Mari Mäntylä, 10-string Decacorde & Kristina Kuusisto, Bandoneon) Plays Tomás Gubitsch’s ‘Villa Luro’

Here’s something that’s a little bit different, but definitely cool. Mari Mäntylä is a talented guitarist from Finland whose specialty is the ten-string decacorde, which adds four bass resonance strings to a conventional classical guitar, broadening its sonic palette considerably, giving it a richer, more full-bodied sound. Of course decacordes are not new—Rene Lacôte and Ferdinando Carulli collaborated on the design of one in the early 19th century, and more than a century after that Narciso Yepes and José Ramirez built a more modern version. Players here and there have played other custom models; Mäntylä’s was made by the contemporary Finnish luthier Kauko Liikanen. Mäntylä is particularly notable because she has championed modern composers and has actively commissioned many new works for the instrument, a few of which can be heard on her wonderful, just-released solo decacorde album, Orfeo Amoroso, on Finland’s Alba label. (I’ll be writing more about that album soon.)


This week’s Video Pick, however, comes from Duo Dryades, which features Mäntylä and Finnish bandoneon player Kristina Kuusisto (who was reviewed in this space earlier in 2018 for her fine collaboration with French guitarist Roger Eon: Duo Silb’s Ouverture). Duo Dryades was formed in 2002 and has played around Europe ever since, while Mäntylä and Kuusisto have also individually pursued many other solo and ensemble projects. This particular piece, Villa Luro, written by Paris-based composer Tomás Gubitsch (b. 1957 in Argentina to central European parents; he moved to Paris in 1977 when he was a member of Astor Piazzolla’s group), appeared on Duo Dryades’ 2014 album Kirmari.  —Blair Jackson