The Essential Giuliani, Vol. 1

The Essential Giuliani, Vol. 1

by Richard Savino


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The Essential Giuliani, Vol. 1

One of the hardest classical composers to get a grip onto is Mauro Giuliani. His published output of more than 200 works contains no clear "hits," and although the "Guitar Concerto in A major" is often cited as the best introduction to his work, at first listen its straightforwardly classical, Italianate idiom doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary. His larder is so stocked with opera paraphrases, potpourris, variation sets, and other pieces of the kind that publishing houses in his day that clamored for that one can't be blamed for wondering if Giuliani ever wrote anything of substance. For anyone who has ever been caught in this conundrum, there is Koch International Classics' The Essential Giuliani, Vol. 1, a carefully compiled account of some of the true highlights in Mauro Giuliani's trick bag. Naturally, Giuliani's instrument of choice was the guitar, and his substantive output for the instrument, considered a novelty in his time but not so now, is the main reason why Giuliani's name has survived. The Essential Giuliani, Vol. 1, has an excellent advocate for the composer in Richard Savino, who plays a guitar made circa 1815. The A major concerto is included, but at the end of the second disc. By this time, one has heard a wide variety of pieces: an overture, serenade, sonatina, and the first of his "Rossiniana for solo guitar," two sets of duets for violin and guitar, with the violin part played by Monica Huggett in one of her rare forays into nineteenth century literature. A special treat is soprano Jennifer Ellis in a set of six songs composed to Metastasio. Something works about the combination of guitar and soprano voice, and Ellis sings very sweetly, yet careful not to gobble up the difficult ornaments observed in the early nineteenth century. When the concerto comes around at the end, it makes a bit more sense, illustrated by the chamber music that went before. Giuliani is decidedly not a follower of Mozart -- his music is more like Beethoven's, but it is genteel in a way the emotionally messy master of Bonn couldn't avoid being after about 1805. It truly makes the guitar sing, and that's why guitarists like Savino love it. Chances are, if one does not at least like a little Giuliani after listening to The Essential Giuliani, Vol. 1, then they are not going to like him at all, ever. Nevertheless, this Koch disc is an excellent chance to get to know him. The sound throughout is excellent, although the concerto is taken from a live concert, and in this one instance the sound quality is a little less immediate and bright.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/22/2006
Label: Koch Int'l Classics
UPC: 0099923759126
catalogNumber: 7591


  1. Grand Duo Concertante, for flute (or violin) & guitar in A major, Op. 85
  2. Sonatina for guitar in D major, Op. 71/3
  3. Ariettas (6), for voice & guitar (or piano), Op. 95
  4. Rossiniana No. 1, for guitar, Op. 119
  5. Grande Overture, for guitar in A major, Op. 61
  6. Serenade, for violin, cello & guitar in A major, Op. 19
  7. Variations on "Folies d'Espagne", for guitar, Op. 45
  8. Variations (6), for violin & guitar, Op. 63
  9. Guitar Concerto No. 1 in A major, Op. 30 (versions for guitar & orch; gt. & string quartet)

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