In this stunning release from Sono Luminus, An Italian in Vienna: Duos by Mauro Giuliani, performed by violist Louise Schulman and guitarist Bill Zito, Giuliani’s Duos become something truly special. The Duos were composed “per Flauto o Violino e Chitarra”—why not then, given a choice of instrumentation, play them on viola and guitar? The mid-range timbre of the viola and guitar give the music a uniquely vocal quality and burnished elegance. In their performance of the Duos, Louise Schulman and Bill Zito put a major focus on the operatic, bel canto tradition that was the major fabric of Mauro Giuliani’s artistic heritage.Mauro Giuliani’s Duos are exquisitely beautiful, eminently accessible music. There is never a dull moment in these pieces. In them we are continually engaged by the glorious melodies, as well as the vivid character and humanistic spirit embodied in these compositions. There are slow movements and variations that are passionate and deeply moving. Many of the melodies conjure up colorful imagery and almost seem to tell a story, or paint an operatic scene. These pieces are not just a vehicle for virtuosity—Schulman and Zito strive to capture this character and expressivity in their interpretations. For the last ten years, they have been performing the Duos in recitals and on chamber concerts, always with great success. This recording is an outgrowth of that process.