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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]
Fantaisie Op.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, Op.9 [8:27]
Goran Krivokapić (guitar)
rec. 31 May – 3 June 2007, St. John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
NAXOS 8.570502 [66:02]
Experience Classicsonline

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.
 
From Sor’s 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 guitarist.
 
From 1815 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. 1815-1817.

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, Allegro moderato; 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 eyes.

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 interpretation.’
 
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).
 
Zane Turner
 

 


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