The flute and guitar duo is a particularly successful chamber music ensemble, even though the original repertoire for this formation is not limitless. It is, in fact, an almost ideal pairing, granting timbral variety thanks to the utter difference between the two instruments. They are also well matched as concerns dynamics, since none of them is among the loudest instruments of the Western tradition: a flute and guitar duo finds its perfect context in an intimate setting, such as a room where the audience coincides with the players, who perform for their own enjoyment, or a salon, where a restricted, selected audience will be able to appreciate all shades and nuances of their playing.
Such audiences, in the nineteenth century, could at times understand the most complex, spiritually and mentally demanding works of the repertoire; more often, however, they delighted in works whose intellectual and emotional content was lighter. This did not imply that such works were easy to play: quite the contrary. Frequently, the most important virtuosi could be invited to play in the most prestigious salons of a city. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, one had first to conquer the salons, and then could hope to enthrall the city with recitals “proper”, in public concert venues. Unless a virtuoso had not managed to secure to him- or herself the favours of the cultivated aristocracy or wealthy bourgeoisie, their attempt to conquer the larger audiences were doomed to failure from the outset. So, it was far from infrequent for some of the most celebrated performers to present themselves and their work, with increasingly dazzling performances, frequently taking as their musical starting point the arias of famous coeval operas, on which the virtuoso could improvise or perform intricated variations, fantasies and potpourris.
The flute and guitar duo seemed to be particularly well suited also from this point of view: the flute had a cantabile which was similar, under many viewpoints, to that of a solo operatic singer. The flute’s range was obviously larger than that of the human voice, but this was certainly not a problem; long, sustained musical phrases could be performed by a good flutist as they could be sung by a good singer. Coloraturas, embellishments and variations were also not an issue, since the flute is one of the most agile among the orchestral instruments.
The guitar, from its part, had the capability of playing a rich harmonic texture, accompanying and supporting, sustaining and framing the flute. However, the guitar itself could play beautiful melodies, in counterpoint with the flute or in dialogue with it.
Finally, but not idly, another advantage of this duo was its “portability”. Even though many bourgeois and aristocratic houses did have a piano, some did not, and, moreover, pianos were not easily moved around the house, let alone brought en plein air. So, this duo could perform pleasurably in a variety of contexts, and provide agreeable musical experience to a very composite audience.
This Da Vinci Classics album provides us with an experience of the atmosphere of those salons: refined, cultivated, light-hearted, brilliant.
The first composer we encounter in our itinerary is Francesco Molino, currently little known except by some connoisseurs. He was born in Ivrea, a small but important and ancient town between Turin and Switzerland, in Italy. He came from a family of musicians, learning to play proficiently a variety of instruments, first and foremost the violin, later the guitar. He did not limit himself, however, to string instruments: he was also an appreciated oboe player, who was called to perform in the wind band of the Piedmontese Army having voluntarily enrolled at the young age of 15. As a violinist, he was one of the most important players of the orchestra of the Teatro Regio, the Royal Theatre of Turin. He toured extensively, for instance in Spain, and was also active as an orchestra conductor.
In the late 1810s, he moved to Paris, where he would settle for the remainder of his life. There, he earned his living as a teacher of guitar, but also as an appreciated performer. He was able to enthuse and inspire the crowds, as is testified by some humorous caricatures (notably by Charles de Marescot) portraying his followers and Ferdinando Carulli’s as two opposing schools of thought in the domain of guitar playing. The two Italian musicians, in fact, had different views as concerns playing technique; Carulli had had the possibility of conquering Paris and the Parisians ahead of Molino, who came later, but, in spite of this, Molino himself was able to acquire a role of great importance among the musicians of the French capital. Molino’s principles were also transmitted through a Method he authored and issued, and which was highly appreciated by pedagogues and students alike. Most of his guitar works were issued in Paris between 1820 and 1835, totaling approximately sixty pieces, among which the Nocturnes have pride of place. They were published and advertised as playable by either the violin or the flute, but the flute version is possibly more idiomatic and certainly more original.
Mauro Giuliani is much better known by the larger public, being one of the star guitarists of all times and of the major guitar composers. He was born in the farthest corner of Italy with respect to Molino’s Ivrea, and his fortune, different from Molino’s, did not come from Paris, but rather from Vienna, the other great capital of culture and politics of the time. Similar to Molino, however, he was a poly-instrumentalist: if his fame is inextricably bound to the guitar, he played also bowed string instruments (particularly the cello) and possibly was the timpanist at the première of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.
In Vienna – but also in Italy, when he came back to his birth country – Giuliani was acquainted with some of the leading musicians of the era: besides Beethoven, Salieri, Haydn, Moscheles, Hummel, possibly also Schubert and Czerny, and in Italy Rossini and Paganini. In spite of his enormous success as a performer and composer, he frequently struggled with financial straits, and died in relative poverty after providing for family members.
In Vienna, Giuliani partnered with German flautist Johann Sedlatzeck (or Sedlatscheck; 1789-1866), whose skills earned him the admiration of Beethoven; Sedlatzeck and Giuliani toured extensively together, both in Austria and in Italy when Giuliani returned there. Together, they constituted what is now considered as the first documented duo of flute and guitar in the nineteenth century. For their duo, but not just for that, Giuliani composed numerous works, in which the roles are normally rather clear-cut: the harmonic function is entrusted to the guitar, the singing tunes to the flute.
Giuliani composed several Serenades for this ensemble, being inspired by the august tradition of Serenades, Divertimenti and Cassazioni as were practised by the great Viennese classical composers. The Serenade op. 127 is probably the most famous among them, and – in spite of having been conceived during Giuliani’s final, trying years in Naples – it is a joyful, brilliant work.
Italian origins and life abroad were shared with Giuliani and Molino also by Pietro Pettoletti, whose biography is very lacunose. Already his father, Johan, had been a musician, serving as a chapel master in Christiania, Norway. Pietro spent some years in Germany and later moved to Sweden; similar to the other musicians discussed here, he was a professional not just as a guitarist, but also as a pianist. Still later he moved to Russia, where he was appreciated as a concert musician (also in duo with his brother Joachim, a violinist) and as a teacher; his concerts led him to undertake numerous journeys throughout Europe. The vastity of his horizons and of his musical experiences is mirrored in his Duo, recorded here, where Russian flavours intermingle with the musical idiom of the Western Romantic tradition.
Fernando Sor is represented here by some works paying homage to another of the greatest guitarists and composers ever. Although in his case birthplace and ancestry are Catalan rather than Italian, he shares with the other musicians a cosmopolitan approach and the residency in a great capital (Paris, in his case, as in Molino’s). However, like Pettoletti, he was also highly appreciated in Russia, where a ballet written by him opened the Bolshoi Theatre in 1825.
The three excerpts from the collection Seguidillas are a fascinating transposition of some of Sor’s most beloved songs, originally for voice and guitar (or piano); the lively connection with the folk tradition is evident and contributes to their well-deserved fame. His Romanesca, like other works recorded here, also exists in a version for violin and guitar.
The remaining pieces were arranged by Anton Foreit after a selection of Airs from an opera by Adolphe Adam, Le Postillon de Lonjumeau. Adam’s Opéra-comique is one of the best-known works by the French composer, along with Giselle, and achieved widespread fame not least for the difficulty of some of its Arias (one of which is also recorded here, i.e. the Ronde de Chapelou, “Mes amis, écoutez l’histoire”). Anton Foreit (or Voreith) was an oboist who performed in Pressburg, Mainz, Biebrich, where he was first oboist and director of the chapel of the Duke of Nassau. After the dismissal of the orchestra, he went to Wiesbaden where he played in the theatre orchestra.
These delightful arrangements demonstrate the appeal of a well-known opera, whose favourite tunes could be repeated and re-enjoyed in the private or semipublic sphere of salon music, bringing the joy of an operatic performance within the walls of family gatherings, and allowing connoisseurs to relive the emotions of the operatic stage.
Chiara Bertoglio © 2023
Koki Fujimoto was born in Tokyo. He started studying the guitar at the age of three. By now he has been taught by Noboru Muraji, Tomonori Arai, Kiyoshi Shomura and Tsuneo Ema. His CD titled "Guitar works by Toru Takemitsu", in memory of Toru Takemitsu, was released in 2016.
As a composer he took lessons from Miyuki Shiozaki, Sho Ueda and Sunao Isaji. He received conducting lessons from Masayuki Honda. Now he is studying at the Cologne University of Music under the guidance of Professor Ansgar Krause.
Koki has won numerous competitions having received the 1st prize at the International Guitar Competition Weikersheim (2008), the 1st prize in the Asia International Guitar Competition (Thailand, 2010), the 1st prize in the Asia International Guitar Competition (2010), the 1st prize at the Tokyo International Guitar Competition, the 1st prize the East End International Guitar Competition (2011), the 1st prize at the International Competition for the Guitar Ensembles (Japan) together with his duo partner Hiroshi Kogure (as Koki and Hiroshi, 2012), the 2nd prize at the Koblenz International Guitar Competition (2018) and the 1st prize at the International Guitar Competition Heinsberg (2019).
Molino Francesco was born in Ivrea near Turin. He often travelled to Spain to give concerts. He was orchestral conductor during 1796-97. In 1820 he settled in Paris, where he lived for the remainder of his life.
His works were largely neglected until the twentieth century, when many of them were republished. Among the best-known are his Three Sonatas, 18 Preludes and Terpsichore (a set of dances), all for solo guitar. He also wrote for other instruments in combination with the guitar, including flute and viola. In 1830 he published a guitar method.
Mauro Giuliani: (b Bisceglie, nr Bari, 27 July 1781; d Naples, 8 May 1829). Italian guitar virtuoso and composer. He studied the cello and counterpoint, but the six-string guitar became his principal instrument early in life. As there were many fine guitarists in Italy at the beginning of the 19th century (Agliati, Carulli, Gragnani, Nava etc.), but little public interest in music other than opera, Giuliani, like many skilled Italian instrumentalists, moved north to make a living. He settled in Vienna in 1806 and quickly became famous as the greatest living guitarist and also as a notable composer, to the chagrin of resident Viennese talents such as Simon Molitor and Alois Wolf. In April 1808 Giuliani gave the première of his guitar concerto with full orchestral accompaniment, op.30, to great public acclaim (AMZ, x, 1807–8, col.538). Thereafter he led the classical guitar movement in Vienna, teaching, performing and composing a rich repertory for the guitar (nearly 150 works with opus number, 70 without). His guitar compositions were notated on the treble clef in the new manner which, unlike violin notation, always distinguished the parts of the music – melody, bass, inner voices – through the careful use of note stem directions and rests. Giuliani played the cello in the première of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (8 December 1813) in the company of Vienna’s most famous artists, including Hummel, Mayseder and Spohr, with whom he appeared publicly on many subsequent occasions. He became a ‘virtuoso onorario di camera’ to Empress Marie-Louise, Napoleon’s second wife, in about 1814. He returned to Italy in 1819, heavily in debt, living first in Rome (c1820–23) and finally in Naples, where he was patronized by the nobility at the court of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies until his death. Towards the end of his life he was renowned for performances on the lyre guitar.
Giuliani had two talented children, Michel (b Barletta, 17 May 1801; d Paris, 8 October 1867), who became a noted ‘professeur de chant’, succeeding Manuel Garcia at the Paris Conservatoire, and Emilia (b Vienna, 1813; d ?after 1840), a famous guitar virtuoso who wrote a well-known set of preludes for guitar op.46.