After his impressive first recording
for Naxos, which consisted of mainly 20th century works, namely those
of Leo Brouwer and Toru Takemitsu, Ricardo Gallén proves that
he can turn his hand (or should that be ‘hands’) to the classicism of
the Viennese school of guitar players. He does so with this collection
of variations by the immensely talented guitarist/composer Mauro Giuliani.
Famous in his lifetime as a virtuoso guitarist, the music abounds in
flights of virtuosic display but is not without its moments of sensitivity
and wit, all of which Ricardo Gallén handles in a most stylish
way. In this he is aided by a copy of a 19th century guitar
by Lourdes Uncilla. He succeeds in capturing the period well.
Three of the works are based
on themes from operas; this practice seems to have been most common
for musicians of the 18th and 19th centuries.
One of the most popular of these is "Nel cor piu non mi sento" from
Act II of the comic opera "La Molinara" by Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816).
This was used by such notable composers as Beethoven and Paganini as
well as the prominent guitar composer Fernando Sor (1786-1838). The
closing work on the disc uses a theme from Rossini’s opera "Tancredi"
and reinforces Giuliani’s admiration for that composer’s work, as he
wrote a number of pieces that bear the name "Rossiniana"(Opus 119-121)
in honour of the great operatic composer.
Another popular theme for composers
was that of the "Folies d’Espagne", again Fernando Sor was inspired
to write a work based on this simple but effective chord progression,
as did the Mexican, Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), who dedicated his working
of the piece to the celebrated guitarist Andrès Segovia, Giuliani’s
version is short but very much to the point and is for me one of the
most memorable moments of the disc.
All in all Mauro Giuliani is
generally known for only a handful of guitar compositions from his quite
sizeable output but this disc, which I presume to be the first in a
series, will go a long way in opening up for us his more obscure works.