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Mauro GIULIANI (1784-1849)
Duo Concertant for violin and guitar, op. 25 [25:05]
Six Variations for violin and guitar, op. 63 [12:12];
Gran Duetto Concertante for violin and guitar, op. 52 [14:00].
Kim Sjøgren (violin); Lars Hannibal (guitar)
rec. May 1988, Hellerup Sognegaard.
OUR RECORDINGS 8.226904 [51:17]
Experience Classicsonline

Mauro Giuliani is most famous for his prodigious abilities as a classical guitarist; he was also an accomplished player of cello and flute. As a composer his output includes not only numerous works for solo guitar but also guitar in combination with orchestra, voice, flute, violin and piano.
With respect to the intrinsic worth of Giuliani’s compositions, opinion varies.  Although faced with a dearth of guitar repertory, the great Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) appears to have totally ignored the works of Giuliani and his contemporaries, Sor and Aguado. A review of some twenty original Tarrega concert programmes reveals no original works for guitar except those from his own pen. He sometimes resorted to transcriptions and arrangements of music by rather obscure and insignificant composers of the time. However in the case of Enrique Granados, a personal friend, he neither arranged any of his music, nor performed any on guitar in the aforementioned programmes.
Giuliani and his contemporaries fared no better in the hands of Andrés Segovia. Except for some minor works, Segovia totally ignored the work of Giuliani. He was ambivalent and not particularly complimentary about the compositions of Fernando Sor.  With regard to the latter, his work is capable of standing on its own merit, independent of Segovia’s acerbic remarks.
The review disc presents three original works by Giuliani for guitar and violin. In contrast to Paganini whose duets for violin and guitar invariably found the violin with the dominant part, in two of these three works Giuliani gives primacy to the violin.  The balance is more even in op. 63. If Tarrega and Segovia were uninspired by Giuliani’s solo works, the music presented here would probably not have changed their dispositions.
The original edition of op. 25, published around 1812, has a rather ornate and elaborate title page. In the liner-notes musicologist Brian Jeffrey suggests that this was intended to connote an important and major work. Regardless of the publisher’s mooted intentions, it does not compare with some of Giuliani’s better efforts. One example is op. 85 for flute and guitar.  Both Tarrega and Segovia may have had a ‘Giuliani epiphany’ had they been able to audition the version of this composition played by James Galway and Kazuhito Yamashita (RCA 5879-2-RC). This is one of Giuliani’s better compositions for two instruments and interpretively, Giuliani at his very best. The virtuosity that both instrumentalists display would likely make most compositions sound special.
Kim Sjøgren and Lars Hannibal, the ‘Duo Concertante’, have been playing together for almost three decades. They have performed more than one thousand concerts and made ten CDs. Interestingly Lars Hannibal is married to the outstanding recorder-player Michala Petri with whom he often performs as a duo. The ‘Our’ part of the label on which the review disc was released, refers to Lars Hannibal and Michala Petri. A visit to the website for Our Recordings reveals a number of releases either with Petri and Hannibal together, or in combination with our musicians.
The music presented here, despite the fact that it is not particularly memorable, is nonetheless well played by the Duo Concertante; in fact it would be difficult to imagine a better execution of any of the three works presented on this disc. On the basis of their performance one is tempted to explore other items of their recorded repertory: Paganini, Sarasate, Grieg and Nielsen. The Our Recordings website provides unusually generous samples for audition.
Zane Turner


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