Ferdinando Carulli (1770 - 1841)
Sonatas Op. 21, Nos. 1 -3 / Sonata Op. 5
Ferdinando Carulli was born in Naples in 1770 and, aswith the Spaniards Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado, he received his firstmusical education from a Catholic priest. Although these early studies wereoriginally on the cello he switched to the guitar while still in his youth. Atthat time tutors for the newly emerging six single string guitar were few andso Carulli was compelled to develop his own pedagogical curriculum. Part ofthis curriculum was to compose the appropriate studies necessary to further hismusical development. Eventually this course of study would lead to his Methodecomplete de guitar ou lyre (Paris, 1811), the most thorough guitar method publishedat that time.
As with many other Italian virtuosi, Carulli migratednorth 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 accountsthat refer to his extraordinary skill in both technical and musical contexts.
As a composer Carulli was prolific, his published works numbering over 300, andhis style quite varied. More than any other guitarist/composer Carulli immersedhimself in the "classical style" of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, andtranscribed 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 wasalso at the vanguard of nineteenth century romanticism and here his talentresulted in a number of very interesting programmatic works, including even oneon the life of Napoleon. Other titles include: The Storm (sonata sentimentale),The Fall of Algiers (piece historique) and The Loves ofVenus and Adonis.
Many early classic guitar compositions suffered frombeing re-issued in corrupt editions at the hands of Heinrich Albert(1870-1950). Although Mr. Albert did much to promote the guitar and itsrepertory, he also felt the need to edit severely and recompose manycompositions, including the famous Fandango Quintet by Luigi Boccheriniand the Duo Concertante for Violin and Guitar, Op. 25, by MauroGiuliani. These works were originally issued by the Zimmermann publishing housein the series Die Gitarre in der Haus and Kammermusik vor 100 Jahren,and many of these same "arrangements" have been re-published in the KalmusGuitar Series by the Belwin Mills Publishing Corporation. Included in theZimmermann series were the Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 from Op. 21,for fortepiano and guitar by Ferdinando Carulli. While it is true that Carullicomposed and published many works for piano and guitar these sonatas were neverconceived as such. Opus 21 was originally composed for solo guitar andcontained an additional three movement sonata. While the duo arrangements ofNos. 1 & 2 have been previously recorded this is the first recording of allthree sonatas in their original solo versions.
Musically, these works are reminiscent of early Haydnpiano sonatas and conform to the standard three movement classical formula: anopening sonata form movement followed by a lyrical adagio, or theme andvariation, and concluding with a lively rondeau. Throughout Carulli is able toincorporate pianist elements in a manner that sounds completely natural on theguitar. Listen, for instance, to" Alberti bass" texture in theopening movement of Sonata No.3, a clear demonstration of what one wouldnormally describe as left and right hand function on a piano. Yet Carulli alsoretains his natural gift for lyrical Italianate melodies as demonstrated in theslow movements of Nos. 1 and 3. Although they are not indicated Carulli seemsto provide the perfect opportunity to include some subtle ornamentation andshort 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 worksthat 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 motivicmaterial for the third movement of Op. 21, No. 2.
1995 Richard Savino