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Decca Phase 4
Mauro GIULIANI (1781-1829)
Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra no 1 in A major op 30 (1808?) [30:18]
Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra no 2 in A major op 36 (1812)
Wiener Akademie/Martin Haselbock
rec. Hofburg Chapel, Vienna, November 2002, DDD
late-night listening … and none the worse for it. I thoroughly
enjoyed the experience.
great leap forward for the guitar and its associated repertoire
occurred toward the end of the 18th century and beginning
of the 19th when a sixth string was added to the instrument.
Suddenly it seemed to become much more popular and attract
both virtuoso performers and, as was common with other instruments
at the time, virtuoso performer-composers. Thus the careers
of Italian and Spanish exponents, such as Carulli, Sor, Aguado,
Gragni and possibly the greatest of them all, Mauro Giuliani
rose to prominence. Their activities centred on Paris and
Vienna, Europe’s joint musical capitals.
was Italian, born in Bisceglie - not far from Bari - on 27
July 1781. His background in his native country is sketchy
to say the least, but he emerges onto the pages of musical
history around 1806 when he appears as an accomplished performer
working in Vienna. He was well known in musical circles,
apparently playing cello in the premiere of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
He also worked regularly with Moscheles and Hummel in the
Austrian capital and enjoyed a solid reputation … which alas
did not continue following his return to Italy in 1819. Ignored
by several native publishing houses, including Ricordi, he
died in Naples in 1829.
composed over 150 catalogued works as well as leaving some
in manuscript. Among his most successful were three guitar
concertos, the first two of which appear on this disc. It
is debatable whether he was actually the first to write such
a composition - Carulli being the other candidate for the
honour - but Giuliani was certainly among the first
to do so.
far as we can tell the first concerto emerged in Vienna around
1808. It appears in two published versions in 1810, for strings
alone and for strings and woodwind - a version believed to
bear the imprint of Hummel. It is the strings-only accompaniment
performed here. After a somewhat “correct” sonata-driven
opening movement the siciliana is a delight, as is the rondo
alla polacca finale. Catemario and his colleagues really
seem to be enjoying themselves here!
no 2, printed in 1812, is a little more complex and slightly
more personal, even introverted. As I listened to the central
andantino, a particularly graceful movement, with its almost
gently “confiding” tone, it certainly conjured images in
my mind of delightful evening strolls in the gardens of southern
Spain … such is the power of music!
and recording to my mind are exemplary. The use of period
strings allows the overall sound-image to remain gentle but
with just a little “edge”, thus preventing the whole from
sounding too smooth or mushy. Catemario meanwhile seems to
make light of any difficulties in the solo part. He plays
these works, incidentally, on one of Giuliani’s own guitars,
the “Pons l’aine”.
maker Cesar Pons initially plied his trade in Grenoble. A
famed exponent in guitar, violin, harp and hurdy-gurdy manufacture
he passed his skills on to his two sons, Joseph (l’aine…the
elder) and Louis David. Joseph however seems to have had
more drive than his brother or father. It was he who made
the break with the Alpine region, moving his workshop to
Paris, where he was eventually joined by his family a few
was in the capital, in 1825, that he made the instrument
used in this recording. Identical to one produced for Empress
Marie-Louise of Hapsburg (wife of Napoleon); its “twin” eventually
ended up in the composer’s hands too, when it was presented
to Giuliani by the monarch not long before he died.
beautiful and gentle tone adds further distinction to a very
pleasurable disc … although sharp-eyed readers may have noticed
that at least part of this SACD has been issued previously.
The 1st concerto partnered two Haydn symphonies on a cover-mount
disc with the BBC Music Magazine (Volume 12 no. 5). There
it was presented in conventional CD stereo, although in truth
I can’t discern much difference between the two. The current
disc may be slightly warmer and more rounded … but it’s marginal.
in all, whilst it’s a well-worn cliché to say this SACD is “ideal
late-night listening” … that’s exactly what it is … and none
the worse for it. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and
would certainly be interested to hear these artists again
in similar repertoire.
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