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8.554344 - Guitar Recital: Franco Platino
Guitar Recital - Franco Platino
It was through his position as Maestra di cappella at the Portuguese embassy in Rome that Domenico Scarlatti became music-master to the Infanta Maria Barbara, daughter of King John V of Portugal. When she married the future King of Spain, Ferdinand VI in 1729, Scarlatti went with her and remained there until his death. It was a 'partnership' that was to make musical history. Most of Scarlatti's more than 555 keyboard sonatas were composed for his pupil, though we do not know exactly where or when they were written, whether in Italy, Portugal or Spain. They form the largest corpus of works in one form (binary - in two sections) by any composer, and each has a specific technical and/or musical purpose. The spirit and clean texture of many of the sonatas are well suited to
arrangements for the guitar - another plucked-string instrument, known to Scarlatti in its earlier form. The sonatas are of two broad types, 'closed', in which the two sections begin with the same thematic material (K.146 and 178) and 'open', in which they do not (K.208). K.146 and 178 chatter joyously, whilst K.208 takes the form of a wonderfully expressive cantilena.
The Chacanne, the final movement of the Second Partita, BWV 1004, for unaccompanied violin, is one of the towering masterpieces of baroque instrumental music Bach was an accomplished violinist, but the intimate knowledge of the instrument shown in his solo-violin works probably came through his acquaintance with Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755), the finest German violinist of the time. The Chaconne was first arranged for the guitar by Segovia, who regarded it with 'religious' awe, and later by others with a better understanding of baroque music than he could have had. No major change to the original text is necessary; it is sufficient that the guitar can sustain some notes on which the bow cannot dwell for their implied duration, and that some chords can be either arpeggiated ('spread') or not, a choice that is not open to the violin. This outpouring of variations on the harmonic sequence of the Chaconne, in both minor and major modes, is unrivalled in its variety of invention and mood. It remains as great a technical and musical challenge to violinists (and guitarists) as it always has been.
The Paraguayan guitarist Agustin Barrios Mangore was deeply affected by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. La catedral (1921) originally consisted of two movements: the Andante religioso was his response to the experience of hearing Bach's organ music in Montevideo Cathedral, the Allegro solemne reflected the contrasting bustle of activity in the streets outside the Cathedral. It was about nineteen years later that Barrios added the Preludio, subtitled Saudade (yearning), in El Salvador The work as a whole represents a synthesis of Barrios' romanticism (a la Chopin), respect for Bach, and guitar virtuosity. His own recording of La catedral in its two-movement form was made in 1925.
Johann Kaspar Mertz was born in Pressburg (now Bratislava) to a poor family. He was a precocious virtuoso of the guitar and flute, though we do not know who taught him, and by 1840 he was ensconced in Vienna, enjoying royal patronage. There followed tours in Poland, Moravia, Russia and Germany, during the last of which he met the pianist Josephine Plantin in Dresden. They toured together and married in Prague in 1842. It was she who aroused his love-affair with the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and others, and his determination to write guitar music of comparable substance to theirs for the piano There are several varying versions of the Elegie, one of which was published in a Siberian journal, Muzyka Gitarista in 1910, with an introduction that differs completely from those in all other sources. The version is this recording is based on that in the collection compiled by C. O. Boije, a mathematician and amateur guitarist (d.1923), held in the library of the Kungliga Musicaliske Akademiens in Stockholm. The Elegie is a fine example of heart-on-sleeve Romanticism, as guitaristic as it is quasi-pianistic.
Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999) understood the guitar's capabilities very well but, being blind, he could not see how difficult many of his works for it are to play. Such is the case with Un tiempo fue ltalica famosa (1980). The title recalls the glorious past of Italica, a famous Roman city situated near Seville, from where tourist excursions are often made to see its ruins. Its geographical situation in the deep south of Spain explains the florid, stylised flamenco character of the music.
The friendship between Andres Segovia and the Mexican composer Manuel Maria Ponce generated many of the guitar's most substantial works during the first half of the twentieth century. Of the five solo-guitar works Ponce wrote in sonata form, the Sonatina meridional (1932) was, surprisingly, the last; all five were composed within ten years but none was added in the last sixteen years of his life. If there be any doubt whether the Campo (countryside) is that of Mexico or Spain, the Copla (couplet) points firmly to the latter, an evocation of the cante hondo of Andalusia. Its melody has characteristic melismatic flourishes. It pauses briefly on a 'Dorian' dominant before giving way to the Fiesta, a kaleidoscope of moods and colours, the perfect complement to the other two movements. As the end approaches a solo 'voice' enters, apasionado, with further echoes of Andalusia and is punctuated by a guitar whose chords add another hemiola (3/4 versus 6/8 time) to those in the Copla. It is a work that encapsulates the three principal elements of Ponce's style: the classical, the romantic and, in spirit only, the folkloric.
John w. Duarte
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