> Johann Kaspar Mertz [AD]: Classical CD Reviews- July2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Kaspar MERTZ
Bardenklänge, OP.13 (Bardic Sounds)

Lied ohne Worte

Fingals Hohle



Romanze: Andante


An Malvina



Variations mignonnes






Romanze: Moderato

An die Enfernte


Adam Holzman – Guitar
Rec 2001?
NAXOS 8.554556 [62:41]

Firstly I must say I am not a great lover of the music of Johann Kaspar Mertz. I find it too pianistic in nature, as are his contemporaries in guitar composition, Napoleon Coste and Giulio Regondi, although to a lesser degree. To some extent this is understandable as the popularity of the guitar was on the wane. So perhaps Mertz, himself a multi-instrumentalist, was driven in some way to compete with the piano on a technical and harmonic level to re-establish the guitar’s status. In doing so he could not help losing the guitar’s individual character. That said, Adam Holzman has done an admirable job in his recording of the work. (Which I must say I prefer to James Reid’s offering of an almost identical programme that lacked a certain conviction. Soundset SR1014).

The Bardenklänge, Op.13 was influenced by a work of Romantic poetry, popular at the time. This has conflicting sources of origin but appears to be the work of one James McPherson (1736-1796) also known as Ossian. Mertz has used various musical genres such as dances, sets of variations, characteristic pieces, studies. When played in its entirety it consists of thirty individual pieces and is one of Mertz’s longest works. Adam Holzman has chosen nineteen of them for this recording, which is up to Naxos’s usual high standards but which I also find less than compelling listening.

Andy Daly

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