During an interview with Andrés Segovia, film-maker Christopher Nupen noted that much of the Andalusian music with which the Maestro is closely associated was written by two Catalans: Isaac Albéniz, and Enrique Granados - ironically for the piano. To which Segovia responded: ‘Yes, unfortunately for the piano.’ Segovia did however explain that in writing Andalusian music, the composer must remember the guitar, and that arrangements of smaller pieces of piano music for the guitar, are in reality ‘a restitution’.
There is no evidence to support the common belief that on hearing Francisco Tarrega play his arrangements for guitar, Albéniz expressed a preference over his own piano originals. However Segovia knew Miguel Llobet personally, and was aware that after Llobet played his guitar arrangements of some of the Spanish Dances to Granados, the latter expressed a preference for these over his originals for the piano. In arranging and playing the music of Albéniz and Granados, Segovia was following the example of Tarrega and Llobet.
When it came to expanding the guitar’s then meagre repertory, Segovia was far more than just a follower of established trends. He turned to music written in an environment that was influenced by the guitar, and would lend itself to arrangement for its source of inspiration. Domenico Scarlatti, although Italian by birth, spent the last three decades of his life in Spain and it was during those years that he composed the large corpus of sonatas for harpsichord. The degree to which the guitar influenced his writing of the harpsichord sonatas is a matter of conjecture, but it takes little imagination to identify guitar-like sounds in these works. There is evidence of the clear influence of Spanish folk music and use of the Phrygian mode common to flamenco music; also other tonal inflections that were relatively alien to European art music of the time. That association, together with a love for the music, was sufficient to initiate Segovia’s arrangement of those sonatas he felt suitable to the guitar.
During his lifetime Segovia only performed a few of these and the two for which he is best remembered are K11 and K322. Segovia’s arrangements were taken from the earlier editions by Longo, and like many of his other arrangements and renditions, today attract criticism. It did not take that long for Wanda Landowska to frown on Segovia’s description of the harpsichord: ‘a guitar with a cold’. In 1994 Claudio Giuliani published two volumes of Scarlatti sonatas arranged for guitar, representing a total of 82 that he deemed to fit reasonably within the range of the guitar; it is from this arranger that advice on the review disc programme was taken.
Luigi Attademo was born in 1972 and received his degree in 1992 from the G. Verdi Conservatory in Turin. At the L. Perosi Accademia Superiore, in Biella he studied with Angelo Gilardino from 1990-93 receiving his second degree, again with highest marks. His success in national and international guitar competitions includes third prize in the prestigious Concours International d’Exécution Musicale (CIEM) in Geneva, 1995.
The review disc comprises a programme of twelve Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas arranged for the guitar. Of necessity, focus must be on those sonatas with a texture that is thin and simple enough to be playable on the guitar. Despite this, it is very easy to fall under the illusion that the music was originally written for the guitar. A combination of good arrangements, appropriate musical taste and effective rendition ensure that the integrity of the illusion is maintained throughout the performance.
Luigi Attademo is a very capable guitarist who plays energetically and with strong rhythmic drive. I do not recall having heard any of the more familiar sonatas from this selection played better than on this occasion. It is also interesting to speculate whether or not the music of an Italian composer interpreted by an Italian guitarist has any influence on the outcome?
One thing that will become evident to listeners is the limited variety in tonal timbre displayed by the guitarist. While the slower sonatas fare modestly better, in the faster ones some of the beautiful, crisp ponticello sounds of which the guitar is capable would have elevated the performance to even higher levels of excellence. Such sounds are also a reminder that indeed the harpsichord and guitar are both plucked instruments.
On this occasion Luigi Attademo plays a guitar made in 1994 by C.S. Oldiges of Germany. Its tonal characteristics are particularly suited to the music played. Depending on the requirements of the music, on other occasions he plays guitars by Francisco Simplicio (1926), Enrique Garcia (1897) and René Lacote (1830).