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Francisco GOYA (1746—1828)
Music of His Time
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683—1764)

Suite from Daphnis et Eglé: Ouverture
Capella Bavaria/Mary Térey~Smith
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685—1757)

Sonata in F minor, K. 467
Laurence Cummings, harpsichord
Francois-Joseph GOSSEC (1734—1829)

Messe des morts: extracts
Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana; Gruppo Vocale Cantemus; Coro della Radio Svizzera; Wolf-Dieter Hauschild; Diego Fasolis
Antonio SOLER (1729—1783)

Sonata No. 15 in D minor
Gilbert Rowland, harpsichord
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756—1791)

Overture to Il re pastore
Capella Istropolitana/Barry Wordsworth
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743—1805)

Guitar Quintet, G. 453: Movement 4: 12 Variations on ‘La ritirata di Madrid’
Zoltan Tokos, guitar; Gyorgy Éder, cello; Danubius Quartet
Marcos Antonio PORTUGAL (1762—1830)

Overture to Il duca di Foix
Algarve Orchestra/Alvaro Cassuto
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Fidelio

Prisoners’ Chorus: 'O welche Lust’
Hungarian Radio Chorus
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia/Michael Halasz
Nicolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Caprice in A minor, Op.1 No. 24
llya Kaler, violin
Fernando SOR (1778—1839)

Menuet, Op. 11 No. 6
Norbert Kraft, guitar
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1869)

Tancredi: Recitativo e cavatina: ‘O patria!...'
Ewa Podles
Capella Brugensis
Collegium instrumentale Brugensis/Alberto Zedda
Dionisio AGUADO (1784—1849)

Lección 26

Norbert Kraft, guitar
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN

String Quartet in B flat, Op. 130
Cavatina: Adagio molto espressivo
Kodaly Quartet
NAXOS 8.558178 Arts and Music Series [70:03]

 

The prolific recording label, Naxos, is very resourceful in recycling its own numerous products. The Arts and Music series is a fine example of how it’s done. You take a famous visual artist, fish out from your stock of previously marketed discs some pieces (or extracts from) that were written during the artist’s lifetime, and hey presto, you have a new product called, for example, Van Gogh: Music of his Time.

This may sound cynical but at least if you buy one of these discs you may get an interesting compilation from a given period that mixes some well known music with some off-the-beaten-track stuff. If you like one or more of the pieces you may go and get the original disc from which it was extracted. So Naxos wins – but so do you.

This Goya disc is, I think, the fifteenth in the series and is typical. There is a range of music that goes from a jolly little minuet for guitar through a Paganini violin Caprice to the profound statement that is the Adagio from Beethoven’s late B flat Quartet.

The attempt to draw meaningful direct links between the music and the artist is half-hearted, understandably so since, as far as I am aware, nobody knows to what extent Goya was interested in music. So none of the pieces has any connection with Goya or his art (apart from being "of his time"). All that Naxos can do is draw a link with the artist’s native Spain which it manages with less than a handful of the twelve items. Domenico Scarlatti was Italian but he did settle in Spain and was the leading composer there. His pupil, the composing priest, Antonio Soler, is represented by a whole, albeit very short, harpsichord sonata. Fernando Sor and Dionisi Aguado both have guitar pieces – the national instrument. Marcos Antonio Portugal is from Portugal. Close.

Beethoven is the only composer represented twice. Now here is a tenuous but fascinating link. Both he and Goya went deaf, Goya in the 1790s after an illness at the same time that Beethoven’s symptoms were appearing. So even if Goya knew of Beethoven’s music, which is doubtful, he would not have been able to hear what it was like.

One way of drawing a link could have been to choose music that was in some way in keeping with the themes of Goya’s work which included the violent, macabre horrors of the war that ravaged the country in the early part of the nineteenth century, a period that saw the armies of Wellington and Napoleon trampling across the country and a hidden civil war between patriots and collaborator’s with the French. Goya got into trouble not only as a suspected collaborator but also as someone who created "works indecent and prejudicial to public good", through erotic paintings of naked women. Links with these themes are not drawn (with the possible exception of Beethoven’s Prisoners’ Chorus from Fidelio) but some of the paintings and etchings are nicely reproduced in an excellent booklet. There is also a substantial and very helpful essay by Hugh Griffith covering historical background, Goya and his work, and the music. At the back there is a five page chronological chart showing Goya’s life and that of his contemporaries.

So what we have is an eclectic mix of pieces, largely from the early nineteenth century; most of them excellently recorded and well performed. You get a nice anthology with a good booklet at bargain price. I found it enjoyable.

John Leeman



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