Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Napoléon COSTE

Guitar Works Volume 4
Jeffrey McFadden - Guitar
Naxos 8.554354
Crotchet     Amazon UK   AmazonUS  

 Introduction & Allegretto
25 Études, Op.38
Rêverie Nocturne
Études from Complete Method for Guitar by Fernando Sor:
Preludio ( No.11)
Andante ( No.14)
Preludio (No.12)
Estudio ( No.13)

Guitar Works Volume 5
Marc Teicholz - Guitar
Naxos 8.554355
Crotchet     Amazon UK   AmazonUS  


La Ronde de Mai, Op.42
Feuilles D'Automne
Douze Valses, Op.41
Marche Funèbre et Rondeau, Op.43
Marche Funèbre: Maestoso
Rondeau: Allegretto
Souvenir du Jura, Op.44
Divagation, Op.45


These two discs found their way to me in quick succession so it seems quite appropriate to review them together, as they are both volumes in what appears to be yet another "Complete Works" project by the super budget Naxos label.

It is perhaps unfair to say that Napoléon Coste (1805-1883) languished because of his association with Fernando Sor (1778-1839) but he never really caught the imagination of guitarists in the same way as his friend and teacher did. This is possibly because by the time Coste (who was arguably the best French guitarist of his day) was at the height of his composing and performing powers the guitar mania that had flourished, particularly in Paris where the Spanish guitarists Sor and Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849) and the Italian Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) resided, was on the wane.

It was common for guitarist/composers to publish among their works sets of studies primarily as an aid to technique, but occasionally within this genre a number found their way into concert programmes (Sor being a case in particular) . So, in the main, this disc consists of Coste's 25 Études (Studies) Op.38, works with a didactic purpose, but at the same time hopefully providing entertainment for the non-guitarist listener.

Études No's 9 and 20 are very much in the vein of Sor and Aguado etc. ( not surprisingly given the background). Many of the others, such as No's 5 and 15, display more of a sense of the Romantic tinted with lyricism but are no more than pleasant miniatures.

The Introduction and Allegretto is a more developed work using thirds and sixth intervals with passing chromatic notes.

Generally there isn't a lot here to sustain the interest though Jeffrey Mcfadden, a regular guitarist for Naxos, gives an authoritative and stylish performance.

Another most capable guitarist is Marc Teicholz who takes us through Guitar Works Volume 5 of Napoléon Coste where it is "Feuilles D'Automne" Op, 41 a set of twelve waltzes that at 31 minutes 52 seconds that is allotted the lion's share of the disc. Again, as in Volume 4, the music seems to miss that certain ingredient that would prevent it from falling into the mundane. Some of the pieces ( Op, 45 for example) just over-stay their welcome; there is little here to fire up any enthusiasm.

I enjoyed Richard Long's booklet notes, which are well researched and informative, I found them more entertaining than the music.

N.B. To date I have found the best disc by far in this Napoléon Coste series by Naxos is Volume 3, (8.554355) played by guitarist Pavel Steidl whose pure artistry transcends the material to display musicianship of the finest order.

To confirm this opinion see Colin Cooper's review in Classical Guitar, page 45 November 2000, volume 19, No.3

Andy Daly

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit