GIULIANI: Guitar Music, Vol. 2 (Marco Tamayo) (Naxos: 8.5558.50)
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Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829)
Guitar Music, Vol. 2
Born in Bisceglie in what is now Italy but was then partof the Kingdom of Naples, Mauro Giuliani was 25 whenhe went to Vienna to learn more about music and, withluck, to earn a living by it. Although the guitar wasappreciated in his native land as an accompanyinginstrument, Vienna offered more opportunities for atalented and ambitious young musician.
The instrument had reached one of its manyturning-points. A low sixth string had recently beenadded to the five-string model; during the ensuing twohundred years, further strings were added at varioustimes and for various reasons, but six is still the norm.
Despite its limitations in volume, the guitar had becomeenormously popular in Vienna. Giuliani found himselfon the crest of that wave of enthusiasm. He was also anaccomplished cellist who took part in the firstperformance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
His biographer Thomas Heck's description ofGiuliani's musical substance as \Viennese classicism ...
nourished by Italian lyricism" is a neat one. No doubtthe lyricism had something to do with his success; alliedto his good looks, a gift for composition and hisvirtuosity on the guitar in that dawn of romanticism, itmade him a celebrity. One of his most significantachievements was to perform a three-movement guitarconcerto with orchestra (presumably Op. 30) to theastonished Viennese public. It may have brought a fewcomplaints about audibility along with the high praise,but it established an important precedent. For all hissuccess, Giuliani led an unsettled life, never having asmuch money as he needed, and eventually moving toRome in order to escape his creditors. There he metRossini and Paganini, and enjoyed a professionalassociation with them. Then came the final move toNaples, and a decline in health. Towards the end of1828, he did not appear at a recital given by hisfourteen-year-old daughter Emilia, though the Queen,two princesses and a prince did. On a previous occasionhe had joined Emilia on stage, like a good father, for aduet. The circumstances of his absence at the laterconcert can only be guessed at. He was only 47 yearsand ten months old when he died in 1829.
The one-movement Sonata Eroica, Op. 150, is oneof only three sonatas composed by Giuliani, the othersbeing Op. 15 and Op. 61. Living in Vienna had givenhim plenty of opportunity to study the work of classicalmasters such as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, butwhether because he felt that the variations form suitedthe guitar better than the sonata form, or whether hesimply preferred, like Sor, to adapt the sonata form tohis own musical needs, he chose not to emulate thegreat classical masters. Sonata Eroica was publishedposthumously by Ricordi in 1840. Its dedicatee wasGiuliani's old friend Filippo Isnardi. It could well be the"Gran Sonata Eroica" that Giuliani described toRicordi in 1821 as a piece "of large volume and neverbefore heard". Analysts, however, have found stylisticinconsistencies in the work. One explanation could bethat Ricordi found someone to finish the work afterGiuliani's death in 1829. On the other hand, Giulianidid refer in his letter to Ricordi to "a style never beforeknown". Beethoven had composed his EroicaSymphony seventeen years earlier, in 1804. The story ofhow it was originally dedicated to Napoleon is wellknown: Beethoven indignantly tore out the title-pagewhen he learned that the Corsican soldier hadproclaimed himself emperor. There is nothingparticularly heroic about Giuliani's sonata, though thescale of the single movement entitles it to an honouredplace among other essays in the form.
Variations on "Nume perdonami", Op. 102, use atheme from Generali's 1816 opera I Baccanali di Roma.
Pietro Generali (1773-1832) was older than Rossini bynine years, and had anticipated some of his illustriouscompatriot's use of orchestral dynamics in his ownoperas, of which I Baccanali di Roma was held to be thebest. There was a vogue for variations in Vienna in theearly years of the nineteenth century, and Giuliani madea substantial contribution to it. This example isdedicated to Anna Wranitzky, an active singer inVienna at the time. The theme, marked Allegrettoinnocente, follows a slow introduction, after whichcome three variations: the first, in triplets, is followedby a version of the melody in the minor over repeatedchords in the bass. It concludes with a return to themajor in which the main interest is contained in strongfortissimo-pianissimo dynamic contrasts.
Giuliani wrote five potpourris, Opp. 18, 26, 28, 31and 41, of which all but Op. 26 were published byArtaria. In his list Artaria chose not to include apotpourri published by a rival, with the result that thefourth in the series, Op. 31, was printed under themisleading title "3rd Grand Pot Pourri". The potpourrias a musical form was a useful way of combiningpopular melodies of the day in a publication intendedfor the large body of amateurs who keep musicpublishers in business. Operatic arias, folk-songs,street-songs, Viennese Landler, Giuliani used them all,ingeniously linking them together and weaving aplayable, if somewhat shapeless, tapestry of melody andharmony. Some of the tunes are immediatelyidentifiable - Mozart's "Non pi?? andrai" from TheMarriage of Figaro, for instance, and many of Rossini'smelodies. Others, less well known and from seldomperformedoperas, are not, but are none the worse forthat.
Giuliani's Fughetta, Op. 113, was sold in 1824 forten scudi, at a time when fifty scudi would have boughtyou a fortepiano. It was first sent to Diabelli, butcomposer and publisher fell out and Diabelli was askedto forward it to another publisher, Giuliani's friendDomenico Artaria. It seems that this request was notcarried out. Composers have always been fascinated bythe fugue. Mozart was one who found beauty in itslogical working out, though his skill in counterpointfound its profoundest expression in long and formalworks such as the Jupiter Symphony. Giuliani, withdifferent musical aspirations, used his skill only on rareoccasions, as in this well-formed "little fugue".
The Six Variations on "I bin a Kohlbauern Bub",Op. 49, a folk-song roughly translated as "I am acabbage-farm boy", includes the minor variation thatcustom demanded. Multiple voices, triplets, a study insmall figures, a free instrumental texture, a fashionablepolonaise, together make a fairly typical example of theform. Published in 1814, it is dedicated to Mme deRittersburg, an amateur singer of the time who isreported to have sung "very pleasantly".Colin Cooper