The flute-guitar duo repertoire is paltry at best. Gary Schocker and Jason Vieaux pay this no mind, turning a limitation into a universe of opportunity with panache and wit to spare. Thursday night they got the Strathmore Hall concert season off to a fine start with a refreshing program that had something old, something new, and much of the material borrowed from the catalogues of its chamber music brethren.
It wasn't necessary to read the artist bios to figure out that Schocker and Vieaux also have active solo careers. Unlike the garden-variety brand of wind-up performers who dutifully recycle the same sturdy pieces, they exhibited strong individual personalities and a controlled looseness together that gave the music a spontaneity absent from so many recitals. This did wonders for sonatas by Bach and Giuliani, which came across as strong emotionally as they did from their precise execution.
For his solo spot, Vieaux lit into Jose Luis Merlin's "Suite del Recuerdo." His smooth phrasing and the dramatic pulsating swells he created on the low strings made this a tough act to follow. Schocker and Vieaux shared in five highly charged Romanian folk songs by Bartok before Schocker uncorked Berio's "Sequenza I" for flute with a rich sound that enhanced the sustained tones and explosive note flurries. Schocker, a double threat as a composer, offered his five-movement "Dream Travels" from 1993. While only the "Rio" and "Seville" sections were geographically self-explanatory, the work proved an effective platform for the commingling spirits of the flute and guitar.