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
unusually generous samples for audition.