As fascinating as the expansion of Slava and Leonard Grigoryan’s musicianship beyond the classical guitar domain has been, it is always a pleasure when they return to this core discipline. Superbly recorded in Oslo’s illustrious Rainbow Studios (with famed engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug), this album nods to Slava’s collaboration with Ralph Towner on two exquisite Towner compositions and to Leonard’s quartet with Luke Howard by having the pianist join them on a Howard composition called Longplay, further enhanced by subtle contributions from Icelandic percussionist Olafur Bjorn Olafsson.
Another textural variation is a Finnish zither, the kantele, played by both Grigoryans, but the main thrust is two classical guitars and the brotherly empathy for tonal colour, phrasing and dynamic precision in dealing with notated music, plus, on occasion, their shared ability to improvise. The centrepiece is a six-part Nigel Westlake suite for two guitars called Mosstrooper Peak that plays to their particular strength for realising soft-focus, watercolour imagery. The ultimate stand-out, however, is the otherworldly elegance of Towner’s Sarabande, a rare gem indeed.