About this Recording
8.553301 - CARULLI: Guitar Sonatas Op. 21, Nos. 1- 3 and Op. 5

Ferdinando Carulli (1770 - 1841)

Ferdinando Carulli (1770 - 1841)

Sonatas Op. 21, Nos. 1 -3 / Sonata Op. 5


Ferdinando Carulli was born in Naples in 1770 and, as with the Spaniards Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado, he received his first musical education from a Catholic priest. Although these early studies were originally on the cello he switched to the guitar while still in his youth. At that time tutors for the newly emerging six single string guitar were few and so Carulli was compelled to develop his own pedagogical curriculum. Part of this curriculum was to compose the appropriate studies necessary to further his musical development. Eventually this course of study would lead to his Methode complete de guitar ou lyre (Paris, 1811), the most thorough guitar method published at that time.


As with many other Italian virtuosi, Carulli migrated north in the first decade of the nineteenth century and eventually settled in Paris. His renown as a performer was well documented and there are numerous accounts that refer to his extraordinary skill in both technical and musical contexts. As a composer Carulli was prolific, his published works numbering over 300, and his style quite varied. More than any other guitarist/composer Carulli immersed himself in the "classical style" of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and transcribed numerous works by these composers for guitar and various instruments, included an arrangement of the opening movement of Haydn's London Symphony, No.104, for two guitars. He also composed many original compositions, sonatas, concertos, duos, trios, and so on, in a similar style. Carulli was also at the vanguard of nineteenth century romanticism and here his talent resulted in a number of very interesting programmatic works, including even one on the life of Napoleon. Other titles include: The Storm (sonata sentimentale), The Fall of Algiers (piece historique) and The Loves of Venus and Adonis.


Many early classic guitar compositions suffered from being re-issued in corrupt editions at the hands of Heinrich Albert (1870-1950). Although Mr. Albert did much to promote the guitar and its repertory, he also felt the need to edit severely and recompose many compositions, including the famous Fandango Quintet by Luigi Boccherini and the Duo Concertante for Violin and Guitar, Op. 25, by Mauro Giuliani. These works were originally issued by the Zimmermann publishing house in the series Die Gitarre in der Haus and Kammermusik vor 100 Jahren, and many of these same "arrangements" have been re-published in the Kalmus Guitar Series by the Belwin Mills Publishing Corporation. Included in the Zimmermann series were the Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 from Op. 21, for fortepiano and guitar by Ferdinando Carulli. While it is true that Carulli composed and published many works for piano and guitar these sonatas were never conceived as such. Opus 21 was originally composed for solo guitar and contained an additional three movement sonata. While the duo arrangements of Nos. 1 & 2 have been previously recorded this is the first recording of all three sonatas in their original solo versions.


Musically, these works are reminiscent of early Haydn piano sonatas and conform to the standard three movement classical formula: an opening sonata form movement followed by a lyrical adagio, or theme and variation, and concluding with a lively rondeau. Throughout Carulli is able to incorporate pianist elements in a manner that sounds completely natural on the guitar. Listen, for instance, to" Alberti bass" texture in the opening movement of Sonata No.3, a clear demonstration of what one would normally describe as left and right hand function on a piano. Yet Carulli also retains his natural gift for lyrical Italianate melodies as demonstrated in the slow movements of Nos. 1 and 3. Although they are not indicated Carulli seems to provide the perfect opportunity to include some subtle ornamentation and short cadenzas in these works, an option that I have chosen to exercise.


Finally, I have also included an additional short sonata, Op. 5, on this recording. Carulli composed many of these kinds of works that appear to be more like a light divertimento or sonatine than a “sonata.” Op. 5 is a pleasant, unassuming work that may have provided some motivic material for the third movement of Op. 21, No. 2.


1995 Richard Savino

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