Schubert sonatas

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Piano solo and duet
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Franz WERTHMÜLLER (1769-1841)
Sonata in A major Op.17 (transcribed by Franz Pfeifer) [13.41]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Sonata No.3 in C major for solo violin BWV1005 (transcribed by Goran Krivokapić) [18.36]

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata K.162 [7.16] (transcribed by Carlo Marchione)
Sonata K 208 [4.11] (transcribed by Carlo Marchione)
Sonata K. 209 [5.06] (transcribed by Carlo Marchione)
Dušan BOGDANOVIĆ (b.1955)

Sonata No.2 for Guitar (1985) [12.21]
Goran Krivokapić (guitar)

Recorded at St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, April-May 2005
NAXOS 8.557809 [61.11]

What was it that Julian Bream once said he feared so much about shifts on the guitar – something about sports shoes squeaking on the gymnasium floor? Something like that anyway. It’s one of the more intransigent corollaries of guitar performances that those squeaks crop up; doubtless the vanguard of guitar pioneers on disc in the 1920s and 1930s – and we’re certainly not confined to Segovia here as Doremi is constantly reminding us – were fortunate in the more primitive microphone responses of the time. But I have to say that throughout this disc by the fine Belgrade-born and youthful Krivokapić I was reminded of Bream’s rueful admission.

This wasn’t so much of a problem in the Werthmüller in this transcription by Franz Pfeifer. Though he lived as late as 1841 this is a determinedly Classical sonata, originally for piano, though one to which the guitarist brings a complement of colour and vivacity. He can’t quite convince one that the slow movement sustains its melodic length but he certainly brings out plenty of the bubbly vivacity in the little Rondo finale.

Bach transcriptions for the guitar have been popular ever since Segovia ventured on his international career. This one, of the third sonata for solo violin, is by Krivokapić himself. Nigel North has arranged this – and recorded it – for the lute but whilst Romero has transcribed the second sonata for guitar and John Williams and Segovia have transcribed other movements from the Sonatas and Partitas I’m not aware of a currently available recording of a transcribed C major sonata. This makes Krivokapić’s something of a novelty. Technically the difficult Adagio introduction is tough to encompass and the results are uncomfortable in respect of those "noises off". The Fugue comes off well and the Largo is expressive enough but whilst the finale is buoyant, as a listening experience those chicken-clucking-gym-shoes-on-floor noises just are too much and will unfortunately prove irksome on repeated listening.

The Scarlatti sonatas go reasonably well on the guitar, albeit the warmly textured K208 suffers gym shoes. The newish work is Bogdanović’s 1985 sonata. This is a pleasurable piece, forward moving and full of rhythmic drama as well as a real degree of melancholy in the compact Adagio. There are hints of gypsy chording and rhythm in the finale – fast runs, elastic sense of rhythm, not stinting on the digital demands on the soloist either, all of which are well met here.

A recommendation is difficult. Clearly the competition-winning Krivokapić is a name to watch. The programme may well appeal given the relative novelty of many of the pieces – though you’ll have squeaks to contend with above and beyond the Bream quotient.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Goran Forsling



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