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Italian Guitar Concertos
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Cantata Cessate, omai cessate, RV 684 (Arr. Emanuele Segre for guitar and orchestra) [5:33]
Concerto in D for lute and strings RV 93 (arr. for guitar and orchestra) [12:03]
Mauro GIULIANI (1781-1829)
Gran Quintetto Op 65 (arr. for guitar and orchestra) [18:29]
Giovanni SOLLIMA (b.1962)
The Back Owl [17:52]
Carlo BOCCADORO (b.1963)
Dulcis Memoria II [14:02]
Emanuele Segre (guitar)
Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali/Carlo Boccadoro
rec. 2018, Teatro Dal Verme. Milan, Italy
DELOS DE3546 [67:58]

Despite its title, no Italian guitar concertos are presented in this recording. All five programmed pieces are arrangements, adaptations or rewrites from various sources. While Italian guitar concertos are part of the instrument’s recognised repertory, on this occasion they have been excluded.

Given that the guitar generally did not attract the attention of great composers, the challenge for guitarists has always been to source quality repertory either by adaptation, arrangement or new compositions. In addition to their prowess as performers, Julian Bream and Andrés Segovia dedicated much of their energy to resolving this challenge. A good example of Bream’s musicality and skill in adaptation is the Diabelli Sonata in A which he recorded on RCA LSC-3070. This is actually a hybrid piece comprising the better parts of two other Diabelli Sonatas: the last two movements of Sonata in A, and the first two movements of Sonata in F transposed appropriately. Few would disagree that the result is a better piece of music than either work from which it was derived. There was doubtless a fit of apoplexy among the purists.

Italian guitarist Emanuele Segre was born in 1965. He studied guitar under Ruggero Chiesa at the Milan Conservatory where he graduated summa cum laude. He subsequently performed internationally, and has appeared as a soloist with Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists, with Salvatore Accardo and the English Chamber Orchestra, and with the Rotterdam Philharmonic as well as many others.

Of the five programmed items only one was written for the guitar: the Gran Quintetto in B flat, opus 65 by Mauro Giuliani was composed as a quintet for guitar and strings. As is frequently the case in guitar recordings, it is arranged here for guitar and string orchestra. The two pieces by Antonio Vivaldi, RV 684 and RV 93, have also been arranged for guitar and string orchestra. The latter, originally for lute and strings, is a favourite among recording guitarists, and the same liberties with nomenclature are usually taken.

The disc also includes world premiere recordings of two pieces of music rewritten and adapted for guitar and string orchestra: The Black Owl and Dulcis Memoria II. In 2014 the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned Giovanni Sollima to compose a double concerto for two cellos. This commission was premiered by Sollima and Yo-Yo Ma. The present version of The Black Owl for guitar and string orchestra was arranged by Emanuele Segre. Dulcis Memoria, by Carlo Boccadoro, was written in 1995 for clarinet and string orchestra. In 2002 Boccadoro rewrote the music for guitar and string orchestra. The guitar part is more elaborate and intricate than the original.

The music, ranging from late 17th to early 21st century, is rather disjointed. In an effort to give the recording coherence a theme was chosen with the commonality being Italian guitar concertos. For reasons previously expressed, this does not work particularly well. In reality the only thing the programme items share in common is that all were written by Italian composers. How well these adaptations and arrangements work is a matter of opinion, but in some the guitar is relegated a place well below its polyphonic station.

The accompanying string orchestra is complementary with the soloist, and the diminutive sound of the guitar augmented rather than dominated in the final result. We may attribute this to the skillful efforts of the conductor, and competence of good sound engineers.

There are recordings in which the virtues are eclipsed by less attractive features. This disc is a case in point.

Zane Turner

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