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"warm and generous performances of Giuliani".

February 14, 2008

Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide,

Guitar players love the work of Mauro Giuliani — it is so well voiced within the instrument's capabilities, and the music itself of an echt-classic kind that is bestowed with more prodigality to instruments like the violin, piano and the like. That doesn't mean that a large listening public is likewise attendant to Giuliani; many find his music rather featureless and dull, fully belonging to the transition between classicism and the romantic and not truly worthy of serious consideration. Overexposure of Giuliani on American classical public radio has not helped his cause much either — presentation within the context of repeated, ingratiating pledges for support and "happy talk" newsbreaks is liable to exhaust the appeal of even a composer as sunny and easy on the ears as Giuliani tends to be.

Lars Hannibal — a guitarist so earnest and dedicated he can spin a mere technical exercise into gold — has come to Giuliani's rescue on Our Recordings' splendid Mauro Giuliani: Works for Violin and Guitar. Recorded in 1988 with violinist Kim Sjøgren for EMI, this disc is making its reentry on Hannibal's own Our Recordings imprint, which he co-founded with recorder virtuoso Michala Petri. Sjøgren and Hannibal's rendering of these three works — the Duo Concertante, Op. 25 (1812), Six Variations, Op. 63 (1814) and the Gran Duetto Concertante, Op. 52 (1814) — are anything but dull and demonstrate a true understanding of Giuliani's idiom, which more than anything else is distinctively Italian in flavor. Sjøgren and Hannibal's have a sincere grasp of the variability to which Giuliani adopted romantic ideas — in the Duo Concertante of 1812; they employ a buoyant classical tempo with only a slight tug of expressiveness, whereas in the 1814 works they are considerably more flexible. This is the result of considerable study invested in the fine details of expression within each piece; the absorption of romantically derived concepts of Giuliani is inconsistent from one work to the next and vexingly rather anti-chronological as well. It makes a difference from just picking up one of Giuliani's works and playing it off the page. The sense of symbiosis of the two players- as necessary here as in the more famous compositions for violin and guitar by Paganini — is clearly apparent in these warm and generous performances of Giuliani.

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