Siblings who perform together sometimes share a natural ability to synchronize with each other. With guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad, two native Brazilian brothers who played Saturday night to a packed Recital Hall at Cal State Northridge, that ability is not only astonishingly evident, but also a tour de force.
The duo perform with remarkable agility and speed, often succumbing to overly flashy or showy temptations, but never losing track of tastefulness or effectively emotive interpretation. Without program notes, their relatively short recital covered a fair amount of ground, considering their high-energy style may have left behind more sophisticated or scholarly concerns.
To the sometimes thorny atonal music of Andre Jolivet's "Serenade" for two guitars (1956), the duo applied gentleness to the dissonances and blunt but calculated comprehensiveness to the piece as a whole. The thoroughly satisfying performance relished each quirky moment while sporadic, spicy jazz elements crept in seamlessly.
Two transcriptions of piano pieces from Albeniz's Suite "Iberia" received prodigious attention, especially "Evocacion" which brought out a rare tenderness from the pair. In the familiar "El Puerto," an abundance of rapid-fire technique and flair portended the aggressive but provocative mood of the remainder of the evening.
Lighter fare by composers Astor Piazzolla, Paulo Belinati, Pierre Petit and Egberto Gismonti similarly impressed, though not necessarily nourished.
Also performed were more routine, but impressively executed transcriptions of Debussy pieces and sonatas by D. Scarlatti. A short Brazilian piece, played on one guitar, four hands, completed the program in encore.