With the dawning of the French Revolution came the reinvention of the guitar. Transformed in form, and equipped with a new set of techniques that saw its archaic tablature system replaced with mensural notation, the instrument became an instant success with the listening public of Europe – particularly the middle classes, who used their new power to ensure its starring role in popular music of the period.
Among the composers now attracted to writing for the guitar’s expanded range of expression was Filippo Gragnani; born in Livorno in 1768, he first trained as a violinist before turning to composition. The three sonatas included on this compilation make up Op.8, and are brimming with melodic inventiveness: composed for violin and guitar, they perfectly encapsulate Gragnani’s style – maintaining a delicate balance between the rigour of classical Viennese elegance, Italian cantabile and the energy of galant music. Although the violin is assigned the bulk of the interest, the guitar has a number of solos that allow its player to indulge in virtuosic display.
Together with the rhythmic energy of the fast movements and the inspired lyricism of the central ones, this charming collection of works offers a fascinating glimpse into the wealth of repertoire composed for the guitar, one of the most popular instruments of the Napoleonic period. Featuring performances full of gusto and aplomb, the recording comprises a worthy addition to any serious guitarist’s library.
Recorded in 1990.
“The writing is in a fairly conservative Italian style: idiomatic but entertaining, virtuosic at times yet never inelegant for it, but above all bubbling with foot-tapping energy and attractive melody...Franco Mezzena and Massimo Scattolin are still going strong...These were recordings from early on in their careers, but very sound of technique and expression. Their approach is as unpretentious and good-natured as Gragnani's music.”