> Gragnari, Giuliani, paganini, legnani duos ADW7298 [PW]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Filippo GRAGNANI (1767-c1812)
Sonata Op8 No 3
Mauro GIULIANI (1781-1829)
Grande Sonate Op 85
Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Sonata concertata
Luigi Rinaldo LEGNANI (1790-1877)
Duetto Concertante Op 23
Phillipe Depetris, flute
Pascal Polidori, guitar
Recorded Eglise Ste Marie-Madeleine, Biot, July 1993
PAVANE ADW 7298 [69.03]


Experience Classicsonline

Pavane has produced some fine discs of obscure music but its booklet notes sometimes leave a lot to be desired. A skimpy, enthusiastically vacuous column really isnít enough, especially as Iím sure the note writer has confused Legnani with Gragnani (it was the latter who spent thirteen years in Vienna; Legnani was a much welcomed visitor but not, so far as I can find out, a resident). Paganiniís guitar works are reasonably well known; Giuliani is known for very little else; as for Gragnani and Legnani they were marginal figures in the world of domestic, salon or instructional music making though the formerís virtuosic Caprices seem to be making a resilient return to the repertoire.

The flute and guitar duo was an eminently sane and portable form of making music; its appeal was to undemanding listening, frequently decorative or operatic transcriptions, popular songs and watered down sonatas. Occasionally it made greater demands when composers mined a vein of wistful melancholy. Gragnaniís Sonata is a charmingly constructed affair Ė the guitar offering supportive, and once or twice decisively attacked chordal, support or rippling beneath the melodic line. Constructed of a theme and variations the second movement is attractively lyrical whilst the finale, an Allegro spiritoso, is splendidly brisk and at two minutes in length (of a seventeen minute work) roguishly trivial. Giuliani has a more complete profile than most composers for guitar. His Grande Sonate is a comprehensively accomplished work that never exploits virtuosity for its own sake but instead evinces a rather stately and affecting air, from its Maestoso opening to the significantly titled Allegretto espressivo; Giuliani always encourages affectionate phrasing. Paganini exploits some attractive little clashes in his Sonata concertata with emphasis on lyrical expressivity to which this duo is very well suited. In the final movement the guitar assumes the initial flute melody, then the two share it Ė most imaginative writing from a composer whose virtuoso reputation tends to occlude his consistently remarkable melodic invention (listen to the orchestration of the Violin Concertos if you doubt it). Luigi Rinaldo Legnani was a friend of Paganini and they toured together during 1836-38, giving concerts before the crowned heads of Europe. He later returned to Ravenna and carved a new career Ė literally Ė as a guitar maker of outstanding renown. The Duetto is substantial but of slighter immediate interest; tuneful, well-crafted, making clever variation demands without plumbing depths itís the ideal duo work of its kind. The church acoustic is rather too booming for absolute clarity of articulation but it does cushion the slow movements and envelop them in an attractive glow.

Jonathan Woolf


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