In life, as exemplified
by the comedian’s trade, timing is critical.
The review disc arrived
at a time when an exhaustive comparison
was mandatory. It infiltrated a state
of euphoria induced by infatuation with
another soprano/guitar disc – Russian
Romantic Songs (harmonia mundi-
HM 907 386) - also recently reviewed
in this forum. Featuring soprano Kaia
Urb and guitarist Heiki Matlik it is
a very hard act to follow.
The current programme
is from the pen of a single composer:
Italian, Mauro Giuliani, one of the
greatest guitarists of his time. Giuliani
wrote prolifically for solo guitar also
guitar concertos, chamber music and
songs. His complete opera have been
published in 39 volumes by Tecla Editions
of London and edited by Brian Jeffery.
The present interpretations are based
on the original texts as preserved in
these scholarly editions.
Like the aforementioned
disc the review programme is a combination
of soprano/guitar duets and guitar solos
- here waltzes played on a period instrument
- but there the similarity ends.
Guitarist Aldo Vianello
studied at the Milan and Bologna conservatories
and is a scholar in historical guitar
performance which is probably the only
justification for his choice of instrument
on this recording. While this has the
novelty of compliance with historically
informed dogma its small boxy sound
is really an anachronism in modern-day
terms. The playing is best described
as pleasant but at times deviates from
standards that, comparatively, current
Soprano Cristina Curti
is a graduate of the conservatories
of Bologna and Parma. She is a specialist
in vocal music of the Renaissance and
Baroque plus vocal chamber music of
all periods. Ms. Curti has made several
recordings in the past.
The programme highlight
is the Lieder from Op. 89, but comparatively
the singer is totally outclassed by
Kaia Urb - HM 907 386. Guitar/voice
duet recordings constitute a rather
narrow field and, irrespective of the
programme, direct comparisons are inevitable.
Giuliani wrote some
excellent pieces for solo guitar, but
the solo material chosen on this occasion
is not among them. Although adhering
to his objective, the guitarist does
not help his case by using a period
instrument and is also outclassed by
For sheer musical pleasure,
and in that sense transcending the genre,
Russian Romantic Songs compares
favourably with the best.
Having said that, the
review disc is historically significant
and as an aficionado of the guitar I
welcome its appearance in the recorded
music catalogue. For that reason alone
it is recommended to those with an interest
in Giuliani and voice/guitar duets.