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The McCutcheon-Twehues Duo

The McCutcheon-Twehues Duo performs a unique, international repertoire which combines the classical guitar's wide range of tone colors and styles with the warm, expressive sound of the oboe. Guitarist Jim McCutcheon and oboist Mark Twehues first performed together as a duo two decades ago, and have shared a close friendship and an artistically synergistic camaraderie which draws audiences close to them.

McCutcheon and Twehues share their enjoyment of great world music by including informative and humorous anecdotes during their concerts, making each selection come alive in a special way for the audience. Both of these musicians are on the faculty of the Department of Music at the University of Dayton.

For more information about the McCutcheon-Twehues Duo's concert and residency activities, you can write to them at:
8530 Cherrycreek Dr., Dayton, OH 45458-3215
or e-mail:
or phone 937.435.1858

Jim McCutcheon, Guitarist

Mark Twehues, S.M., Oboist

McCutcheon-Twehues Latest CD:

CD (or Cassette) Selections:

  • 1. Karabejniki (The Peddlers)*
    See sound files below!
  • 2. Duo sur une Romance Russe, Op. 27 (P. Pettoletti)
Two Slavonic Dances (Antonin Dvorak):
  • 3. Op. 72, No. 2 *
  • 4. Op. 46, No. 1 *
Two Pieces from The Nutcracker (Pyotr Tchaikovsky):
  • 5. Arabian Dance*
  • 6. Trepak (Russian Dance)*
Three Balkan Songs:
  • 7. Albanian Folk Song (arr. Bobri)
  • 8. Kolo (Serbia) (arr. Bobri)
  • 9. Jovano Jovanke (Macedonia)*
Rumanian Folk Dances, Op. 56 (Bela Bartok, arr. Levering):
  • 10. Jocul cu bata (Stick Dance)
  • 11. Braul (Waistband Dance)
  • 12. Pe loc (Stamping Dance)
  • 13. Buciumeana (Hornpipe Dance)
  • 14. "Poarga" romaneasca (Rumanian Polka)
    See sound files below!
  • 15. Manuntelul (Quick Dance)
Guitar Solo:
  • 16. Lullabye (Alexander Ivanov-Kramskoy)
Three Russian Folk Songs:
  • 17. Two Guitars (arr. Bobri)
  • 18. Moscow Nights (V. Solovyev-Sedoy)*
  • 19. Kalinka* (including the U.D. Cossack Choir)
    See sound files below!
Two Romantic Russian Classics:
  • 20. "18th Variation" from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 (Sergei Rachmaninoff)*
    See sound files below!
  • 21. Sabre Dance from Gayane (Aram Khachaturian)*
    See sound files below!

(*) indicates arrangement by Jim McCutcheon and Mark Twehues

Sound Samples:

Listen to the McCutcheon-Twehues Duo on excerpts from these album selections:

Sabre Dance (Khachaturian) 36 sec. (282 K .au)
Sabre Dance (Khachaturian) 36 sec. (69.8 K .ra)

Variation on a Theme of Paganini (Rachmaninoff) 37 sec. (288 K .au)
Variation on a Theme of Paganini (Rachmaninoff) 37 sec. (71.4 K .ra)

Kalinka (arr. McCutcheon/Twehues) 38 sec. (297 K .au)
Kalinka (arr. McCutcheon/Twehues) 38 sec. (73.8 K .ra)

'Poarga' romaneasca (Bartok, arr. Levering) 34 sec. (269 K .au)
'Poarga' romaneasca (Bartok, arr. Levering) 34 sec. (66.5 K .ra)

Karabejniki (arr. McCutcheon/Twehues) 36 sec. (285 K .au)
Karabejniki (arr. McCutcheon/Twehues) 36 sec. (70.9 K .ra)

to play Real audio files,

"Moscow Nights"
(liner notes by
Jim McCutcheon & Mark Twehues, S.M.)

While not as popular as the balalaika, the guitar has had a long history in Russia. The Russian classical guitar had seven strings and a rather extensive repertoire. The oboe's haunting and melancholic tone combined with the romantic nature of the classical guitar seems perfectly suited for these beautiful melodies and passionate rhythms from Russia and eastern Europe.

Karabejniki (The Peddlers) is a Russian folk song performed here in a traditional instrumental setting. Each of the verses is varied, alternating wild, flamboyant sections with slow, lyrical passages in which the guitar sometimes imitates the warm tremolo of a balalaika orchestra. The music is always expressive and full of life, all the way to the "Hey!" at the end.

The musical styles of western Europe (particularly Italy) became the rage in Russia during the early 19th century. Foreign composers found themselves in demand by the Russian aristocracy. Pietro Pettoletti was one such Italian who spent much of his career in Russia. His Duo sur une Romance Russe, Op. 27 consists of an introduction, theme and variations originally written for guitar and flute or violin. Pettoletti's masterful writing for the guitar shows his clear understanding of the instrument.

Antonin Dvorak's first collection of eight Slavonic Dances (Op. 46), a work for piano four-hands, was so successful that his publisher urged him to write a second set (Op. 72). Dvorak subsequently scored these dances for full orchestra. He used Czech folk dance and melodic idioms when he composed these original works. They were a subtle message that Czech culture was significant and important to Czechs, if not to the pervading German over-culture. We have tried to retain the vitality and romanticism of Dvorak's charming dances.

A child's dream of Christmas magic is brought to life through Tchaikovsky's endearing ballet, The Nutcracker. In the Arabian Dance, the guitar creates an exotic, undulating atmosphere by drawing on a rich tonal palette which includes pizzicato and ponticello. A sense of mystery is heightened by the veiled "oriental" oboe. Rollicking, roisterous Russians are conjured with somersaulting magic by the guitar and oboe in the Trepak (Russian Dance).

The Balkan countries have long been recognized as a source of evocative folk music. The Turkish overtones of the Albanian Folk Song are naturally suited to the oboe. The Kolo is a light circle dance from Serbia. The 7/8 rhythm of Jovano Jovanke is quite infectious. The intentional buzzing guitar sounds (which guitarists usually avoid like the plague) make for a colorful accompaniment.

The Rumanian Folk Dances, Op. 56 by Bartok come from the time of his travels around central Europe during which he gathered much original ethnic music. Scored first for piano and later for orchestra, this set of dances uses ethnic melodies with fairly authentic harmonizations.

Alexander Ivanov-Kramskoi, a Russian guitarist from the first half of the 20th century, was best-known in the United States for a recording he made with orchestra. His Lullabye, a lovely example of his work, is published in a series devoted entirely to Russian music for classical guitar by Editions Orphee in Columbus, Ohio.

Two Guitars is a traditional song by the Russian gypsies who settled around Moscow at the end of the 19th century. It is reminiscent of the famous gypsy choirs and their spirited performances in the inns on the outskirts of Moscow which could go on for days until all the performers and guests had collapsed!

The immortal love song, Moscow Nights, was written by Vassily Solovyev-Sedoy, a successful composer of war songs, at the end of the Second World War. Influences by jazz and popular music trends in Europe and America gave it a modern character while still expressing the romantic Russian soul.

Kalinka is an example of a lyric song, a type of folk music sung wherever people were gathered together - hence it is a favorite sing-along at our concerts. But be careful to practice your Russian pronunciation!

None of Sergei Rachmaninoff's many soulful melodies has become more beloved by American audiences than the 18th Variation from his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.. Arranged from a work for piano and orchestra, our challenge was to keep the rich harmonies while balancing the intimate melodic partnership of our two instruments.

Similarly challenging was Aram Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, from his ballet, Gayane. The intense energy of a full orchestra can be difficult to imitate with only two instruments, but our transcription of the orchestral score retains the pounding bass line, the driving melody and Khachaturian's Armenian harmonies. The guitar even imitates the snare drum at one point!

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