Outsiders: review of GIULIANI, M.: Vocal and Guitar Music – Grande Ouverture / Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith / Cavatina (R. Bertini, Ficco), Naxos, 2018
From contemporary music to romantic music. The Italian Maestro Davide Ficco returns to romantic music with this repertoire dedicated to solo works for voice and guitar by the great guitarist Mauro Giuliani. Even those who have a superficial knowledge of the world of classical guitar shall appreciate the work of this great virtuoso, a vast, heterogeneous work characterized by an idiomatic and easily recognizable writing. In this CD, produced by the Italian record company Tactus, we find, for voice and guitar, “6 Ariette, Op. 95”, “Romance, à Marie Louise d’Austrie, au Berceau de son Fils in Op. 27”, “6 Cavatine, Op. 39 “,” Cavatina, Op. 79: Theme and Variations: Alla bolero “and for solo guitar the” Grande Ouverture, Op. 61 “, “Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith, Op. 107 “and “Grand Sonata Eroica in A Major, Op. 150”. All very interesting music and performed with considerable skill and expertise.
To draw more my attention are the following thoughts, written by Maestro Ficco in the booklet accompanying the CD: “Following this path, the recordings in this disc contain some variants in the reprises; here they are particularly evident in the solo pieces. The variants have been conceived allowing for the general composition context, and venturing – rather boldly – to revise the reprise of the statement in the Gran Sonata eroica op. 150 and in the Variazioni su un tema di Haendel op. 107, with a return to a more specifically Baroque style, almost a homage to the great Saxon composer, that gradually leads to classical aesthetics (the variations present a slow transition through two successive styles). The vocal part, on the contrary, contains embellishments that belong to a performance practice that by then was well-established in the performers’ customary repertoire. The choice of varying the reprises tends to free these pieces from an excessive, rigid fidelity to the text and from the effort (albeit a justified one) of achieving an “objective” reading. This had determined, with time, the loss of a free, flexible interpretation, both in the listener’s ear and in the taste and capability of the performers. Improvisation, in other words: in Giuliani’s times the need to vary what had just been stated was still felt, although the seriousness and completeness of many authorial works severely limited the performer’s contribution. So we decided, this way, to imagine that the generous Mauro Giuliani was indulging in some fanciful passages in order, once again, to astonish his devoted public.”
Personally I found these words very interesting, they deserve to be thorough. They offer new ideas and new light for the interpretation of Giuliani’s pieces. A really good job.