Fernando SOR (1778-1839) Twelve Studies, Op.6[29:57]: Etude No.1: Allegro
moderato [1:29]; Etude No. 2: Andante Allegro [0.53];Etude No 3.
[1:19];Etude No. 4: Allegretto [2:12]; Etude No.5: Andante [3:08];
Etude No. 6: Allegro [2:50]; Etude No. 7: Allegro [2:31]; Etude No.
8: Andantino [1:40]; Etude No. 9: Andante Allegro [2:45]; Etude No.
10: Moderato [4:03]; Etude No. 11: Allegro moderato [3:25]; Etude
No. 12: Andante [3:41] FantaisieOp.7 [16:39]: Largo
[6:33]; Theme and Variations [10:06] Six Divertimenti, Op. 8[10:59]: No.1:
Minuetto [1:35]; No.2: Waltz [0:54]; No.3 Andantino: [2:22];
No. 4: Allegretto scherzoso [2:26]; No. 5: Marcia [2:02];
No. 6 Waltz [1:40] Introduction et Variations sur une Thème de Mozart,
rec. 31 May – 3 June 2007, St. John Chrysostom Church,
Newmarket, Ontario, Canada NAXOS 8.570502 [66:02]
Some of the most beautiful and popular works for
the classical guitar are to be found among studies written
for the instrument. The ability to combine musical beauty
with didactic content is a hallmark of the great composer/instrumentalists.
Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, Chopin and Beethoven all left magnificent
studies for their respective instruments and among guitarists
none excelled the Catalan, Fernando Sor.
large corpus of studies, Andrés Segovia selected twenty
that represented to him the ideal combination of musical
beauty and instructive excellence. Included were eight
pieces from Op. 6. Segovia’s edition became the most famous
of all Sor’s published works, and having mastered the twenty
studies one could be considered well on the way to mastery
of the instrument. Once asked about the general development
of technique Alirio Diaz spontaneously and unequivocally
recommended the studies of Fernando Sor.
Despite the enormous popularity of
the Segovia edition, relatively few
recordings are available. While he
included a number of these studies
on different recordings, Segovia never
made a definitive recording of the
twenty. This new recording by Montenegrin
guitarist Goran Krivokapić, includes
all the studies that constitute Op.
6 and the eight that Segovia elected
to include in his original edition.
Goran Krivokapić studied
guitar with Mico Poznanovic, Srdjan Tosic, Hubert Kappel,
Roberto Aussel and Carlo Machione. A list of his wins in
international guitar competitions would be almost as long
as this review. The technical facility he possesses has
been defined as ‘freakish.’ This is his second recording
for Naxos, and the first (Naxos 8.557809) won him the Golden
Guitar Award for the best CD of the year. His first such
award was at the Tenth International Guitar Convention
in Alessandria (Italy), 2005 for the best and up-and-coming
to 1822-23, Sor was an exile in London. A political refugee
from circumstances in his own country, it was during this
period that he wrote most of what appears on the review
disc. Op. 6 was probably first published in England c.
Op. 6, No 12- No. 14 from the Segovia edition
- is one of the most sublime and musically attractive studies
that Sor ever wrote. He reflects in this music all the
melancholy and saudade that the Spaniard-in-London
must have felt; sentiments paralleling those of the Portuguese
political exiles in Brazil who, on their return, bought
back a fado strongly infused with elements of Brazilian
music. The Portuguese word saudade has no exact
English equivalent, but infers melancholy and longing,
especially for something or someone beloved that is lost.
It often carries a furtive tone and a repressed knowledge
that the object of longing might never return. Sor may
have sensed that he would never return to Spain; he died
in Paris in 1839. Great mariners and colonizers, the Portuguese
had empathy for saudade and it is a key element
of fado, the native folk music.
There is no doubt Krivokapić possesses a
refined and extensive technical faculty, but on this recording
how does it compare with interpretive skills? While a degree
of uniformity exists among past interpreters of this music,
on occasion Krivokapić departs quite dramatically.
The most conspicuous example is Op. 6 No 12. Segovia’s
chosen tempo was Andante, and in accordance with
the liner-notes, that is how Sor marked it. Krivokapić plays
it faster than Op. 6 No.11 marked by Sor, Allegromoderato;Segovia
marked it Movido. Generally his interpretation expunges
all the magnificent melancholy and saudade with
which Sor imbued the original. Paradoxically, Op 6 No.
11 receives empathetic treatment that compares favourably
with the best.
In 1965 the great Spanish master, Jose Luis Gonzalez
made a recording of the Segovia edition 20 Studies (CBS
BR 235128). It is interesting to again audition number
14 from that recording, having held it in high esteem for
many years. Some sense of relative tempi can be gained
from the timings: Krivokapić [3:41], Gonzalez [3:58];
and Jose Luis excludes the second repeat comprising twelve
measures of music! It is true to say that the only thing
in common with the review disc are the literal notes on
the stave - if one is still able to see them through moist
Yes, that was all back in 1965, more than four decades
ago, and interpretive styles have changed. Speaking in
the context of Bach’s music, violinist Jaap Schröder eloquently
expressed a general truism: ‘What seems appropriate
and right in one generation becomes old-fashioned and will
be rejected in the next one, and no performance style is
able to escape the critical judgement of a later period.
It is not the continually more detailed knowledge about
the past that is the severest judge; it is the ever-changing
conception of taste applied in perfect good faith to the
That said, I have praise for much of what else
appears on this recording. The Six Divertimenti are
well performed and both Fantaisie, Op. 7 and Variations
on a Theme of Mozart, Op. 9, nicely played, although
I have yet to find an interpretation of the Fantaisie to
match that of Julian Bream (Baroque Guitar RCA VD 60494).
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