Ferdinand REBAY (1880-1953)
Sonatas for Flute and Guitar
Sonata no.1 in E (1942) [22:23]
Sonata no.2 in D (1942) [29:29]
María José Belotto (flute)
Gonzalo Noqué (guitar)
rec. St John Chrysostom's Church, Newmarket, Ontario, 6-8 July 2011.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9291 [51:52]
Quartets for Guitar, Flute and Strings
Quartet in D minor, for guitar, violin, viola and cello (1925) [28:41]
Quartet in A minor, for guitar, flute, viola and cello [37:32]
Gonzalo Noqué (guitar)
Alicia Fernández-Cueva (flute)
Raúl Galindo (violin)
Pedro Michel Torres (viola)
Jacobo Villalba (cello)
rec. Fray Luis de León Hall, Madrid, 25-27 February 2011.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9250 [66:18]
Complete Works for Clarinet and Guitar
Drei Vortragsstücke [10:13]
Kleine Variationen on a Theme from Chopin's Preludes op.28 [5:25]
Sonata in D minor [18:59]
Sonata in A minor [22:01]
Sonatina in B flat [14:28]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
12 Deutsche Tänze WoO.8 (arr. Rebay): No.4 [1:38]
No.5 [1:42] No.7 [1:43]
Luigi Magistrelli (clarinet)
Massimo Laura (guitar)
rec. S. Stefano, Ticino, Italy, October 2005 and May-July 2006.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94171 [76:09]
"The most important thing happening at the moment in the world of
guitar music is the rediscovery of the work of Viennese composer
Ferdinand Rebay", writes annotator Javier Suárez-Pajares in the booklet
for 9250. His assertion will be news to many, but Brilliant Classics'
three monographs to date - there are surely many more to come - are the
place to go for the facts. There is nothing to be gained, incidentally,
by looking Rebay's name up in Grove - the lack of
any reference whatsoever to him is one of that eminent encyclopedia's
most glaring omissions. This was, after all, a pupil of Robert Fuchs
alongside the likes of Mahler, Wolf, Sibelius, Zemlinsky and Korngold,
and a prolific composer in all genres.
One of the stars of the present recordings, Spanish guitarist Gonzalo
Noqué, can also be heard alongside compatriot María Pilar Sánchez in
one of the few other existent monographs, Rebay's two oboe sonatas on
Naxos, albeit currently in download or streaming format only (9.70073).
Noqué's useful biography of Rebay for Naxos can be freely accessed here.
It is a curious fact that Rebay was an almost exact contemporary of
Schoenberg and Prokofiev - outliving the latter and Stalin by eight
months. His two sonatas for flute and guitar were written, as Noqué
points out in his notes for 9291, at almost exactly the same time as
Prokofiev's own Flute Sonata op.94, and Dutilleux's Flute Sonatina -
yet the contrast in style could hardly be greater. The harmonies do
ultimately let slip what century Rebay was writing in, yet this music
is so unashamedly mellifluous and unassuming that it is the easiest of
things to forget. There are reminiscences of folk songs, Giuliani,
Schubert, and the influential Spanish guitar masters like Sor and
Tárrega splashed throughout these scores, which are given the five-star
treatment by Noqué and flautist María José Belotto.
Yet Rebay was no dilettante - as tuneful as his music always is, it is
unfailingly imaginative, nowhere more so than in the two guitar
quartets. These are actually for different forces, even if the CD cover
suggests otherwise. The all-strings line-up of the D minor follows in
the footsteps of Boccherini's delightful quintets, which are sometimes
recalled in its pages. When Rebay replaces the violin with a flute for
the even longer A minor work, he is following a trail blazed by
Schubert's D.96 (albeit after Wenzelaus Matiegka's Notturno op.21).
This is such a rare combination of instruments that it may strike some
ears as slightly alien-sounding, but Rebay's A minor Quartet is a
beautiful work whose colours and textures linger in the memory
alongside the lovely Giulianian melodies. Noqué and flautist Alicia
Fernández-Cueva, along with the three Spanish string players, perform
these Mediterranean-steeped works with classical elegance.
In the earliest of the three discs under review, Italian guitarist
Massimo Laura is joined by his fellow landsman Luigi Magistrelli, whose
dulcet clarinet comes in for the flute, the latter's airy atmospherics
replaced with the intimate warmth of the former. In the Drei
Vortragsstücke especially there are hints of the Jewish influences
suspected by the Nazi regime in 1938, which resulted in Rebay's
dismissal from his post at the Vienna Music Academy, this in turn
ending in his destitute demise.
Despite writing so much for the guitar, Rebay himself did not play the
instrument, although his niece, Gertha Hammerschmied (1906-85), was and
served him well as a muse. Perhaps the fact that Rebay was not a
guitarist explains, in part at least, why the likes of Segovia, Llobet,
Pujol and their heirs did not take an interest in his music - he wrote
for duos or quartets, of which one equal part was a guitar, rather than
for dazzling virtuosos. Whether or not Rebay really is finally "rising
from undeserved oblivion to occupy a deserved place of respect within
the history of guitar music", as Noqué claims, is debatable, but at
least none can say that he and the other musicians on these fine
recordings have not made a good case for him.
Sound quality is very high in all three instances, although the two
flute sonatas were recorded in a church in Ontario where the ambience
is rather reverberant. The booklets have notes in English and Spanish,
but curiously no German. Either way, they are detailed and well
written. The total timing figure given for 9291 is wrong, clearly
cut-and-pasted from 9250. In fact, the disc is a quarter of an hour
Finally, a number of Rebay's art songs can be heard on a recent Arsis
album, sung by Maximilian Kiener, who is accompanied - almost
inevitably - by Gonzalo Noqué on the guitar (review).
That recording is not as impressive as the present trio, but it does
bore another gaping hole in the views of those who believe that
Schoenberg was responsible for the death of melody and structure.
Contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk