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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Fernando Sor, The 19th Century Guitar, Gianluigi Giglio

Farnando Sor (1778-1839)  as one of the fathers of modern classical guitar deserves a spot on our shelf if we prize such things. Here is your chance with a nice volume devoted solely to his solo music, The Nineteenth Century Guitar (SOMM CD 0604) featuring Gianluigi Giglio on a vintage 1834 Rene Lacote, Paris.

I find the performances to be beautifully engaging with a kind of piquancy and near-lutenesque tone that comes out of the smaller bodied, silk and cat-gut stringed guitar made in the era. The strings sing out without a pronounced vibrato (of course) and a sweetness that an excellent guitarist can and does produce from the sort of earthy eloquence that a Sor writes for the instrument. You might say that the early guitar is to the lute as the early pianoforte is to the harpsichord? Yes, though a discussion of this would take us further afield than is desirable this morning. If you listen you will see what I mean, I think. There are sonic similarities, subtle but there?

I must say I do love it to have a single composer featured on a program like this, so that his (or her) particularities come through without distraction.

And so we get Sor and only Sor. And that is all we could ask for. There is his own version of variations on "Les folies d'Espagne" plus other variations with "Introduction and Variations on 'Malbrough s'en va-ten guerre,'" (which many of us English speakers will recognize as nearly identical to "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" or "The Bear Went Over the Mountain,"), and finally one on a theme of Mozart's (op.9).

Then there is the "Easy Fantasy in A minor," the two movement "Elegiac Fantasy in E minor,' all-in all the whole or a piece or two from eight opus numbers covering 1822-1836, plenty to savor and sounding quite well thanks to Maestro Giglio, the beautiful old guitar and the recording folks who captured it all.

It is pure fresh air and a much welcome break from the more intensive ambitions of New Music that I so love but on occasion must give pause to, pace myself ! Highly recommended this for reasons that need no further explanation. It is very good.

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