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Glyn Pursglove
MusicWeb International, October 2009

Most of the music to be heard here is in a fairly direct line of descent from Haydn and Mozart, though it owes more to their ideas of symmetry and grace than to their profundity. The Three Waltzes (Op.32) are attractive pieces, not least in terms of the echoic dialogue between the two instruments. The Duos (Opus 11, 150 and 151) show Carulli slowly—the opus 11 duo was published in 1809, the others in the 1820s) coming to terms with the problems involved in blending the sounds (and dynamics) of these two instruments and often hitting on some very interesting solutions to the inherent problems; as he shifts the focus from one to the other, spotlighting each in turn, the results are never less than engaging. The Grand Duo, which appears to have been published in the mid 1810s, is perhaps the most accomplished and most substantial of Carulli’s original works on the present disc, full of lyrical invention.

Carulli’s Rossini arrangements (including one prepared in collaboration with his son Gustavo) are great fun, capturing much of Rossini’s wit and zest. Opus 168, an arrangement of the Grande Marche by Ferdinand Ries is something of a curiosity. The attempt to give the guitar a martial air has a slight element of the absurd about it, heard alongside the far greater power and authority of the piano. The outcome can’t quite avoid a sense of pastiche, even of parody, though the piece is entertaining enough (Carulli is very rarely dull).

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2009

The second volume in an ongoing series of music by father and son, the elder, Ferdinando Carulli, being a highly fashionable performing guitarist in Paris during the early part of the 19th century. He was also a much respected pedagog and the first to write a complete classical guitar method. As a gifted composer he obviously wrote much to display his own technical brilliance, and was also anxious to compose for the guitar and piano, a duo format that would enhance sheet music sales for domestic performance. The present disc is largely taken up by works simply described as ‘Duos’ and includes his earliest score in this genre dating from 1809. That he developed little as a composer comes in comparing the duos dating from two decades later, all written in a generalised Mozartian style, the piano given the most demand role. Three short waltzes tend to repetitive, and we move to more fertile ground when he courted popularity by using themes from famous operas. Here we have arrangements of overtures to Rossini’s La Cenerentola and L’Italiana in Algeri, but why and how could he move to a totally new level of attainment in the Grand Duo in E minor of 1814? You begin to wonder if a different hand was at work. Often sharing the stage with his son, Gustavo, they also joined in composing music, though the extent of the participation of both is unknown. Here they cooperated on a Melange en Duo sur des Motifs de Rossini. The Brazilian-born pianist, Debora Halasz, shoulders most of the technical burdens, her playing nicely groomed, with Franz Halasz making the most of the solo opportunities when they arise. The Bavarian Radio recording could have been more generous in the balance towards the guitar.

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