NOVA Guitar Duo: Farewell London – Hello Florianópolis, again

NOVA Guitar Duo

While in London we all feel a little misty eyed from farewelling the NOVA Guitar Duo of Luiz Mantovani and Nelly von Alven, in Florianópolis they are preparing to welcome back their Professor of Guitar at the State University of Santa Catarina – UDESC, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, the Brazilian guitarist Luiz Mantovani, who has spent the past four years in London, undertaking his invaluable doctoral research on the Austrian composer Ferdinand Rebay (1880–1953).

Luiz Mantovani has now completed his PhD research, which was supervised by Dr Natasha Loges, Head of Postgraduate Programmes at the Royal College of Music, whose research and writing on Brahms – Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Brahms and his Poets: A Handbook (Boydell & Brewer, 2017), among many others – has done much to expand our understanding of this pivotal composer in the history of music.

Luiz Mantovani explains the importance of Ferdinand Rebay for twentieth-century guitar repertoire:

Ferdinand Rebay (1880–1953) was a pioneer among the non-guitarist composers who started to write for the guitar in the 1920s. However, in spite of having composed close to 400 guitar works, he is today undeservedly obscure. This thesis examines his more than 30 sonatas or sonata-structured works for guitar, most of which is made of chamber music for combinations that range from duos to a septet.

Luiz Mantovani, Ferdinand Rebay and the Reinvention of Guitar Chamber Music. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music, London, 2019, is available for download HERE

Luiz Mantovani was a member of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet for eleven years, (working with Founder members Everton Gloeden, and Tadeu do Amaral); they won a Latin Grammy for the ‘Best Classical Music album’ in 2011 for their Villa-Lobos recording, Brazilian Guitar Quartet Plays Villa-Lobos (Delos, 2011). As a committed chamber musician, while in London Luiz Mantovani formed the NOVA Guitar Duo with the German guitarist Nelly von Alven, who was taking a postgraduate Masters in Performance at the Royal College of Music London.

As the NOVA Guitar Duo, Nelly von Alven and Luiz Mantovani have been performing regularly in music festivals and venues such as Buxton International Festival, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and the Elgar Room of Royal Albert Hall. In 2017, they gave the UK Première of Concerto for Two Guitars and Orchestra by the French composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983). Their New York debut at the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, in November 2018 received critical acclaim.

In December 2018, the NOVA Guitar Duo released their first recording, Sortilegios (Stradivarius), featuring their own transcriptions of music by Villa-Lobos, Manuel de Falla and Federico Mompou, including the first guitar duo arrangement of Villa-Lobos’ Cirandinhas – a piano cycle based on children tunes from Brazil. In the NOVA Guitar Duo, Nelly von Alven plays a standard six-string guitar but Luiz Mantovani plays a ‘Brahms’ guitar – an extended-range instrument which has been invented by Paul Galbraith and David Rubio, and which Luiz brought from his years of experience with the BGQ.

We look forward to hearing their news from Florianópolis and their future concert performances abroad.

© Thérèse Wassily Saba 2019

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