Aureole etc.

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Three Airs of Court: I. Prelude; II. Aria; III. Finale
from Sonata No.4 (Italiana) for solo guitar: I. Reverie; II. Alla Tarantella
Preludio No. 2 (a Luis Walker) from Cinco preludios
from Cuatro piezas Latino-Americanas: II. Valsa Chorosa; IV. Malambo
Suite Antiga: I. Preludio; II. Minueto – Trio; III. Musetta; IV. Sarabanda; V. Giga
Choro No.1
Valsa - Choro
Concertino (arranged for two guitars by Maria Isabel Siewers): I. Alegre; II. Pastorale; III. Allegretto
Maria Isabel Siewers (guitar)
Daniela Canale (guitar II) (Concertino)
BIS-CD-1178 [75:54]

In Maurice Summerfield’s book The Classical Guitar, though a highlighted composer for the guitar, Guido Santorsola is one of the few not to be allocated a list of selected recommended recordings. Although I remember a few radio broadcasts of recitals by the Abreu brothers and David Russell that included pieces by Santorsola, availability of recordings by this composer seems to be thin on the ground. I suspect that this disc may be the first one entirely dedicated to the guitar works of Santorsola.

A composer of broad vision, Santorsola was not averse to using past musical periods for stimulus, "Three Airs of Court" and "Suite Antiga" are both works in this vein. The former has its origins in songs found in the French Royal courts of the 16th and 17th centuries. However Santorsola’s reworking owes more to a slightly later time, that of the baroque and in particular the lute works of Bach and Weiss. "Suite Antiga" is also based on baroque forms, this time suggesting the Suites of the period but in a somewhat looser context, without the courante and allemande movements and with a more modernistic viewpoint.

By and large, the remaining pieces reflect Santorsola’s background. Born in Italy, his family moved to Brazil when he was very young and then later to Uruguay where he became a citizen. It is not surprising therefore that much of his music bears the hallmarks of South America, including the Choro and Valsa forms so popular on that continent, albeit with his own unique musical style. In some ways his approach is more like Villa- Lobos than many of the other popular South American composers.

Maria Isabel Siewers’ playing is competent rather than inspired. I feel the performances are a little subdued, the slower pieces struggling to engage the listener although the brisker movements do fare better. For a disc of just over 75 minutes’ duration Siewers coaxes virtually no high points in the proceedings, the whole affair being very one dimensional. It may well be that this music requires a guitarist of unusual insight to bring it off well. This may explain the rarity of recordings by this composer. With all respect to Maria Isabel Siewers I would dearly love to hear this music, which I feel promises so much, in the hands of a guitarist like David Russell, or Jason Vieaux.

Mention should be made to Daniela Canale who gives good support as a duettist in the "Concertino" which Maria Isabel Siewers has reworked from Santorsola’s original for guitar trio.

Andy Daly

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