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8.220165 - Music for Violin and Guitar
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Music for Violin and Guitar

 

Mauro Guiliani (1781–1829): Grand Serenade, Op. 82

The Italian musician Mauro Guiliani was a cellist and guitarist, performing in the first capacity when Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony was first given in Vienna, an occasion that brought together many distinguished musicians in a concert devised by Count Maelzel, inventor of the metronome and of the musical automaton, the panharmonicon, in aid of the war wounded. Giuliani’s Guitar Concerto had been performed with considerable success in Vienna in 1809, four years earlier. He was to become virtuoso onarario da camera to the Empress Marie-Louis, Napoleon’s second wife. In 1819, deeply in debt, Guiliani moved to Rome, later settling in Naples, where he died in 1829.

The Grand Serenade, typical of its composer and of Italian music of the early nineteenth century, opens with a theme and variations. The melody itself is offered simply and followed by a version in triplets in which the guitar is prominent, a further variation in still more rapid notes for the violin and an excursion into a melancholy minor.

The second movement is in the form of a Minuet and Trio, the latter an unusual contrast. This is followed by an Allegro, linked by its recurrent main theme and occasionally allowing the guitar a more important role.
The final March and Trio contrast a fanfare type melody with a minor section, both in the easily approachable idiom of the whole work.

Bach-Gounod: Ave Maria

Charles Gounod was a composer of the strongest lyrical gifts. In 1859 he won great acclaim for his opera on the subject of Goethe’s Faust, an achievement that elevated him to the first rank of composers then living. It was in the same year that he had recourse to the first Prelude from Book 1 of Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues for the Well-tempered Clavier, deriving from it what he described as a religious melody, arranged for soprano and organ or orchestra.

Since the time of Gounod the arrangement of the Ave Maria has undergone many further transcriptions, its popularity undiminished, however distant it may be from its first source.

Niccolo Paganini (1782–1840): Sonata No. 1 in A Major (from Centone di Sonate)

Legends abound concerning the life of Paganini, stories that were to pursue him after death. Born in Genoa in 1782, Niccolo Paganini was to develop a phenomenal technique as a violinist, coupled with a reputation that attributed his success to the assistance of the Devil, a figure whose help had, in an earlier generation, been afforded to Tartini. Paganini’s amazing virtuosity was surrounded with an air of mystery that his appearance and his irregular life only deepened.

In the early years of his independence from his father, Paganini was alleged to have spent some years in the house of a Tuscan lady of quality, who, if she ever existed, has remained anonymous. Here he not only improved his technique on the violin but also mastered the guitar. Among the few published works that appeared in his life-time is a set of six sonatas for violin and guitar, written before 1806. A further 19 violin and guitar sonatas survive, described as Centone di Sonate (“A Patchwork of Sonatas”). The Sonata in A, the first of a set of six from these later works, opens with a short and dramatic introduction in A minor, followed by an Allegro maestoso in march rhythm, presenting a characteristic theme. A contrasting melody of greater suavity forms a central section, in the key of A major, succeeded by a return of the more angular A minor march and a final reminiscence of the introduction.

The Rondoncino opens with a simple and attractive melody, followed by a D major Trio, after which the opening theme is repeated. There is an episode in B minor, in which the violin is plucked, echoing the guitar, and a final appearance of the principal theme of the movement.

Niccolo Paganini (1782–1840): Cantabile

The Cantabile by Niccolo Paganini, a demonstration of the singing tone of the violin, exists in versions for violin and piano, as well as in the present form for violin and guitar. It was not published in Paganini’s life-time, the only compositions he then released were the 24 Caprices for unaccompanied violin and a number of smaller works for violin, guitar and other instruments.

Christian Gottlieb Scheidler (c. 1752–1815): Sonata in D major (arranged for violin & guitar by Karl Scheit)

The career of Christian Gottlieb Scheidler spans a period of the greatest importance in the development of music, coinciding as it does, with the development and expansion of the sonata. Little of his is apparent in the Sonata in D major, with its relatively simple outlines. The first movement is in the established form, the two subjects of the exposition being followed by a brief development, before the re-appearance of the first theme, re-introducing a recapitulation of the first section. The following movements follow customary form.

Keith Anderson


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