Single Review: Fire & Grace, “Libertango”

Fire and Grace- Alma

You know the sensation – you have a sharp emotion, or a tangle of emotions, and you can’t immediately find the words to accurately describe what you feel. Even if you do find a satisfactory way of verbalizing the joy, or grief, or tenderness that you felt in that moment, it likely still feels like there are pieces of those emotions that words don’t quite touch. Music has a way of cutting through the strictures of language and reaching the heart, mind, and soul, and articulating a feeling without utilizing words. I present to you, dear reader, a brilliant example of a pair of musicians accomplishing just that: “Libertango”, as performed by Edwin Huizinga and William Coulter.

For context, Edwin Huizinga (Guelph, ON) plays violin in this duo, and is a composer, a member of the JUNO-nominated indie-rock band The Wooden Sky, and has performed around the world as part of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. William Coulter (Santa Cruz, CA) is a GRAMMY-winning and critically acclaimed guitarist who specializes in traditional guitar music, and runs a classical guitar studio in California. Their work together as a duo is performed under the stage name Fire & Grace, though you may find their music in that name or under their individual names, as I did.

Fire and Grace

The song I would like to shine the spotlight on here is “Libertango,” the lead-off track from Huizinga & Coulter’s most recent album “Alma.” The song is an interpretation of the dramatic and brooding tango number composed by Astor Piazzolla. The source material features a main progression that drips with emotion, and Huizinga & Coulter masterfully ply their trade at bringing it to life in their own folk-meets-baroque style.

This concise track packs a deft emotional punch. It starts with a high-register cry of the violin that resolves into a flowing bowed section complimented by driving, arpeggiated guitar. The duo ramp up the drama to a crescendo before the emotional force of the tune levels out in the middle section of the song, as though taking a breath. The violin and guitar reach hills and valleys dynamically, keeping the listener engaged. The resolution at the end left me with a little chill as I listened to it – it left me wanting to hear more.

“Libertango” works wonderfully as an introduction to the music of Fire & Grace, and serves as a sampler to whet the appetite of the listener to enjoy the duo’s music further. It is just the type of piece to pique the interest of a person who is on the fence about instrumental music or anything leaning classical, and is also the type of piece that will delight a listener who already enjoys folk, classical, and baroque music. You couldn’t ask for a duo to bring more intensity or warmth to an instrumental piece.

Matt Wheeler is a Lancaster County, PA-based singer, songsmith, stage-banter conversationalist, husband, & special-needs father. And an avid vinyl record collector, a purveyor of random facts, & tour-er of Canada (southern Ontario is a favorite destination). Ever since being introduced to Great Lake Swimmers' music through Pandora in about 2009, he has had an appreciation for Canadian music.

Matt's songs & stories, including his classic literature-based project "Wonder of It All," can be found at www.mattwheeleronline.com.

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