Cover image of Les compositions de Ida Presti pour deux guitares

Les compositions de Ida Presti pour deux guitares

Stein-Erik Olsen

Olivier Chassain

IDA PRESTI – 12 duos for guitar:



Valse de l'An noveau

Étude fantasque

Danse Gitane

La Hongroise

Danse d´Avila




Étude no. I

Berceuse à ma mère

Ida Presti was admired by Django Reinhardt, and together with Alexander Lagoya she formed the foremost guitar duo of all times. This is the world premiere recording of Ida Prestis compositions, a truly momentous achievement by the guitarists Olivier Chassain and Stein-Erik Olsen.

Wunderkind and world fame

Presti made her debut as a guitarist at the early age of 10, both in concert and on record, and was a successful solo artist immediately. The only tuition she ever received she got from her father, who passed away when Ida was only 14 years old. In 1952 Ida and Alexander began their co-existence, both musically and private. Ida’s nature was at the same time moody and profound, dreamy and fiery, playful and melancholic, impassioned and mutinous, with an incarnate and highly spiritual temperament: All traits of personality that are easily heard in her music.

From wonderful improvisations to heartfelt compositions

Very modest on behalf of her own compositional work, Presti herself stated: “I do absolutely not claim to be a composer, simply a guitarist writing for her instrument”. These works grew out of improvisations; in fact she was hesitant of ever writing the music down. When we hear the music today, what strikes us is a rare melodic gift, generously disposed through these 12 character pieces.

Recorded on the instruments of Presti/Laygoya

The Presti family have kept the manuscripts for these compositions unpublished until now. Olivier Chassain and Stein-Erik Olsen are both students of Alexander Lagoya, and it is their painstaking work that has made it possible to bring this music out again. As an important extra bonus, Chassain and Olsen have been allowed to use the fantastic Bouchet guitars, built especially for Presti/Lagoya, when making this recording. Musée de la Musique in Paris hosted the recording sessions.


"This is a remarkable new release, both in terms of the music offered and the story behind the project. For one thing is the music performed on the Robert Bouchet guitars which belonged to Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya, instruments so valuable that they could not be taken outside the premises of the Musée de la Musique, Paris, where this recording was made. Morover, this record presents the complete duo works composed by Ida Presti between 1955 and 1966, never before offered in their entirety. ..From now on, thanks to the initiative of Chassain and Olsen, many guitarists, whether professional duos or enthusiastic amateurs, will be attracted to these works. This release, something never before available, represent a milestone in guitar recording and a welcome contribution to our enjoyment of an exceptionally beautiful part of the repertoire."
-Classical Guitar Magazine USA, April 2010

Olivier Chassain and Stein-Erik Olsen are both former students of Lagoya's, in addition they play on the Robert Bouchet guitars once owned by their illustrious predecessors. So there's a certain authenticity here, which is only enhanced by the players' own considerable virtuosity and musicianship. Presti and Lagoya, still considered by many to be the greates classical guitar duo in the history of the instrument, also enriched the repertoire beyond measure with their masterly arrangements for two guitars of music by Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Haydn, Granados, Debussy and Falla, to name but a few. Perhaps, less known to the general listening public is that Ida Presti, who met Alexandre Lagoya in 1951 and partnered him in both music and life untill untimely death in 1967, was an improviser and composer of genius. The proof is in the 12 works for guitar duet recorded here, many for the first time. Olivier Chassain, himself a composer, and Stein-Erik Olsen are both former students of Lagoya's, in addition they play on the Robert Bouchet guitars once owned by their illustrious predecessors. So there's a certain authenticity here, which is only enhanced by the players' own considerable virtuosity and musicianship.

But the music’s the thing: here are wondeful, original evocations of Spain (Espagne and Danse gitane – which latter no doubt also recalls the many evenings presti spent jamming with Django Reinhardt) and Hungary (La Hongroise), Expression of love (Sérénade, the first work Presti dedicated to Lagoya, and Berceuse à ma mére, written just a month after the death of Presti’s mother) or even a simple deligth in one’s own dexterity ( Etude No 1). Appropriately, this excellent release ends with the multifacetated Etude fantasque of 1966, which apparently, according to those who were closest to Presti, the best musical portrait of her."
-William Yeoman Gramophone (UK)

"Chassain and Olsen do not attempt to recreate the interpretations of the Presti-Lagoya duo. Instead, they update the works for a contemporary audience with musicality and enthusiasm, playing them with the technical élan by which virtuosic music stands or falls. At the same time they allow the music to fly, imbuing it with the element of freewheeling improvisation that was Presti's trademark."
-Bergens Tidende 2010 (Norway)

“Their performance shows what a first class composer Presti was."
-Gendai Japan January 2010

"The critics' favourite
"Les Compositions de Ida Presti" came in fifth in Aftenposten's  annual poll for the ten best international recordings. The Norwegian guitarist Stein-Erik Olsen and the French Oliver Chassain have recorded the works of Ida Presti. This new presentation of her works has again brought her close to us."
-Aftenposten (Norway)

"Fiery duo
The performances are virtuosic, sensual and dynamic. Consistent to the last detail."
-Dagsavisen 2009 (Norway)

"Very beautifully played by Olivier Chassain and Stein-Erik Olsen, clear and pure with a fine, warm recorded sound from Simax. It is hard to imagine that it could have been done better."
-NRK (The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) - “På sporet”, 2009