Thomas Piercy / Vilian Ivantchev Café

Clarinettist Thomas Piercy and guitarist Vilian Ivantchev have a remarkably eclectic repertoire, ranging from Poulenc's "Mouvements Perpetuéls No. 1" and Telemann's "Sonata in A minor" ― all attractive, if a bit ordinary ― to Ravel's Spanish-y "Pièce en forme de Habañera" and six of Bartok's rhythmically insistent "Roumanian Folk Dances." It's in one of the dances, "Pe loc," where an interesting aspect of the duo's sound shows itself. Although Piercy may come across as a "capital C" classical clarinettist, that mask drops momentarily to reveal some klezmer-style pitch bending ― nice. Really nice is the inclusion of strong readings of three Villa-Lobos pieces, which are played with genuine emotion and careful attention to their demanding dynamics. But it is the twosome's interpretations of works from Astor Piazolla's "Histoire du Tango" that add spicy heat to the collection. This is a CD you can put on anytime, for a dinner with friends or a quiet Sunday alone with a book and your cat. (Tonada)