" Cameron Greider and Jack Petruzzelli are session guitarists who specialise in surf rock and western swing, but Ravel & Bartók (Sono Luminus), their latest album as the High Low Duo, artfully arranges 11 beautiful, impressionistic themes for electric guitar. "
Buy or stream Ravel & Bartók
High Low Duo's debut album Ravel & Bartók, on the Grammy-winning Sono Luminus label, features electric guitar arrangements of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and selections from Bartók's 44 Duos for Violin.
The album came out of High Low Duo’s experiments with using electric guitars to play classical music. Greider and Petruzzelli are guitarists who cut their teeth playing rock, blues, country, and folk as session musicians and sidemen – they have toured and recorded with the likes of Joan Baez, Patti Smith, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Cornell, Natalie Merchant, Ian Hunter and more – and the pair became obsessed with classical music along the way.
“When people hear the words ‘classical electric guitar,’ they might picture a heavy- metal virtuoso shredding onstage with a symphony orchestra, or a loud, rocked- out version of a Debussy piano piece,” Greider says. “Our goal is different. We aim not to play rock versions of classical works, but instead to use the palette of sounds the electric guitar offers to re-orchestrate them, while still doing justice to the composers’ dynamics and nuances. We studied harmony, counterpoint, solfège and all the rest, and the further we went down the rabbit hole the more fascinating it became.”
The Duo found they could use the sound world of the electric guitar – with tones ranging from sweet and sustained to growl-like – to colorfully orchestrate classical works such as the two featured on this album by Ravel and Bartók. Greider explains, “We love classical guitar and classical guitarists, but those aren’t the techniques and sounds we know best. The electric guitar offered us a way into the pieces that was personal to us, but also, we hope, true to the composers’ intentions.”
Greider gives the following examples of this approach at play: “In ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, the Beast’s theme is written for the contrabassoon, which has a gruff, low sound. Jack plays the part with his low E- string tuned down, and he gets a growling tone that is perfect for the Beast, who is rude and rough in spite of himself. It
reminds me a little of Duane Eddy, who had hits in the early sixties with his signature low, barking guitar tone. Another example is in ‘Laideronnette,’ when Ravel is imitating the sound of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra. He scores the opening for celesta combined with sustained woodwinds. Electric guitar harmonics (touching your finger lightly against the string) render that sound wonderfully because they have a such a metallic attack.”