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An Italian In Vienna: Duos By Mauro Giuliani

Giuliani / Schulman / Zito
Release Date: 08/30/2011 
Label:  Sono Luminus   Catalog #: 92138   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mauro Giuliani
Performer:  Louise SchulmanWilliam Zito
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GIULIANI Grand Duo Concertante in A, op. 85. Serenade in G, op. 127. Grand Serenade in D, op. 82. Duetto Concertante in A, op. 52 Louise Schulman (va); Bill Zito (gtr) SONO LUMINUS 92138 (78:09)

The title of this album, An Italian in Read more Vienna , got me to thinking. During the first half of the 18th century, a well-traveled road to fame and fortune for many Italian composers led to England. Now, in the latter half of the 18th century and early decades of the 19th, the locus of the musical universe had shifted once again, this time to Austria. Salieri comes to mind as perhaps the most prominent Italian transplant to Vienna, though Rossini enjoyed much success there as well, even if it was only a temporary stop on his way to London and Paris.

Mauro Giuliani (1781–1829), a close contemporary of Paganini—he was born a year before but died 11 years sooner—came from the southern Italian town of Bisceglie, but located to Vienna sometime around 1807. Though his first instrument was cello, Giuliani devoted himself to the guitar, distinguishing himself as one of the foremost guitar virtuosos of his time. In fact, Fanfare ’s own James Reel, who authored the brief biographical sketch of Giuliani for ArkivMusic, states that “even Beethoven noticed Giuliani, and wrote a few guitar pieces especially for him.” I’m afraid I don’t know what those pieces are, nor have I come across anyone else who does, but one contributor to Guitar Salon International , a David Norton, states, “There are no known solo guitar pieces written by Beethoven. Researchers have been hoping to find such a thing forever, but it seems certain that it does not exist. Or, if it did, it has been destroyed in the past 200 years. Beethoven probably knew Mauro Giuliani because they were living in Vienna at the same time, and Giuliani played cello in the premiere of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (but it’s hardly like he was hand-picked by Beethoven for the job).”

Whether there was any direct Beethoven-Giuliani connection or not, it seems that Giuliani’s main circle of musical friends and colleagues revolved around Hummel, Moscheles, and Diabelli. Giuliani published more than 200 works, a large number of which have been recorded; and of those, all feature the guitar either as a solo instrument or in a chamber ensemble setting. He also wrote at least three guitar concertos, the first of which, in A Major, has amassed some two-dozen recordings. Quite popular too is the composer’s Grand Duo Concertante, op. 85, originally for flute and guitar, heard on the present disc in a transcription of the flute part for viola. It has also been transcribed for violin and, in one form or another, has been reviewed in these pages half a dozen or more times.

This is solid, well-crafted, and very attractive music in a late-Classical/early-Romantic style that has much in common with not just Hummel and Moscheles, but also Pleyel and Weber; frankly, it’s much more substantive, I think, than Paganini’s duos for violin and guitar. The Andante molto sostenuto from the Grand Duo is only the first of the movements on the disc to take your breath away with its arresting beauty. The theme and variations movement from the G-Major Serenade is memorable, not only for the songful tune on which its divisions are based, but for Giuliani’s unflagging musical inventiveness; its minor-mode variation is another one of those breathtaking moments. In fact, Giuliani’s frequent, Schubert-like shifts from major to minor—the 2:42 mark in the variations movement of the Grand Serenade in D Major is another example—are simply exquisite.

Violist Louise Schulman’s viola by Zanetto da Montechiaro is a magnificent specimen, projecting with a rich, full-bodied, full-throated, plummy tone. Of course, Schulman has not a little to do with that, her playing drawing out the honeyed voice of the instrument to maximum effect.

For this recording, Bill Zito uses two guitars, a 1950 Hermann Hauser and a 2009 Antonio Marin. I’m no guitar expert, but it’s easy to describe the sound Zito elicits from his instruments—mellow, sweet, and totally free of that twangy effect not uncommon to the guitar, yet at the same time sufficiently robust and voluminous to fill the acoustic space and not be overpowered by the viola.

This is an utterly enchanting and entrancing CD. It’s not only one I shall be keeping but one I shall be listening to often. I can’t give you a money-back guarantee, but I can assure you that if you enjoy this disc anywhere near as much as I have you won’t regret purchasing it.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Grand duo concertant for Flute and Guitar in A major, Op. 85 by Mauro Giuliani
Performer:  Louise Schulman (Viola), William Zito (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1817; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ne 
Length: 23 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Serenade for Flute and Guitar in G major, Op. 127 by Mauro Giuliani
Performer:  Louise Schulman (Viola), William Zito (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ne 
Length: 18 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Grande sérénade for Flute and Guitar, Op. 82 by Mauro Giuliani
Performer:  Louise Schulman (Viola), William Zito (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1818; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ne 
Length: 4 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Gran duetto concertante for Flute and Guitar, Op. 52 by Mauro Giuliani
Performer:  Louise Schulman (Viola), William Zito (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813-1814; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ne 
Length: 17 Minutes 28 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Every one of these stars September 28, 2012 By Anthony G. (SANTA FE, NM) See All My Reviews "This recording earns each of the 5 stars I have given it. Moving, passionate, inspired, thrilling, and thoroughly entrancing music and music making. If you purchase only one Classical CD this year, make it this one." Report Abuse
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