Notes and Editorial Reviews
Duetto. Fantasy. Cavatinas from Verdi’s
Ernani. Duetto Concertante
MSR MS 1428 (64:50)
Luigi Rinaldo Legnani (1790–1877) studied voice, violin, and guitar in Ravenna. His first career was as an opera singer, so he had great knowledge of the opera world before he settled on becoming one of the great guitarists of his time. He was a friend of Niccolò Paganini, who played guitar as well as violin. The violinist is quoted as having referred to Legnani as
the “first” among guitarists. It’s interesting that both Legnani and superstar guitarist Mauro Giuliani were Italian, not Spanish. The leading Spanish guitarist of the early 19th century was Fernando Sor. However, after the death of Giuliani in 1829, Sor in 1839, and Paganini in 1830, Legnani was undoubtedly Europe’s greatest guitarist. He was also endowed with great stamina and a long life in which to enjoy the fruits of his labors.
Annette and Brett Heim constitute the Heim Duo. She plays the flute and he the guitar. Both of them play extremely well, but the balance on the recording makes the flute almost twice as loud as the guitar. We know that the tones of the acoustic guitar are delicate, and it is a shame that the sounds of these two instruments could not be equalized for the recording. In the
op. 87, you have to listen very carefully to hear all the notes of the guitar. It’s a beautiful piece and Annette Heim plays it with wonderful fluency, but I long for more discernible harmonies with the guitar. On track 5 we have the only solo guitar piece on the disc, the Grand Fantasy, op. 61. At least there I can luxuriate in guitar heaven.
There is a Mondo Musica 1997 recording of both the
with Claudio Ferrarini, flute, and Claudio Piastra, guitar, but I don’t find the sound to be of the same quality as that heard on the Heim Duo recording.
Giuseppe Verdi’s opera
is based on Victor Hugo’s 1830 play
The opera was first performed in Venice in 1844, and Legnani could well have seen it there. He certainly did know that the melodies of the opera were immensely popular and that audiences would happily pay to hear them repeated. Here, we get to listen to Legnani’s arrangements of the major arias sung by Elvira and Ernani. Since the opera was given at the Metropolitan Opera during the 2011–12 season and broadcast live in high definition to theaters around the world, readers may have heard Angela Meade sing the lyrical “Ernani involami” and its coloratura-filled cabaletta, “Tutto sprezzo.” Her version is a little slower than the Heim Duo’s, but both renditions are truly exquisite, as is the duo’s playing of the music sung by Ernani.
The disc concludes with Legnani’s charming
op. 23. Again, the guitar accompanies the flute, but they are good companions and the music is enthralling. Both this Legnani MSR Classics disc and the Sono Luminus disc titled
Mauro Giuliani: An Italian in Vienna
, which features guitar and viola, go well together and could be the basis of a pleasant evening. On the MSR disc the sound quality is good, and other than the previously mentioned balance problem, this is an excellent recording.
FANFARE: Maria Nockin
Works on This Recording
Gran Duetto, Op. 87 by Luigi Legnani
Annette Heim (Flute),
Bret Heim (Guitar)
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