Early Romantic Guitar Recordings by Len Verrett
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These are original recordings presented here to the public for free download, for personal use only, provided you do not sell the material or present it as your own. To play the music in your browser if your computer is configured to do so, you can click on the links to play the track, or in Windows download it by right clicking and selecting "Save Target As".
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The Early Romantic Guitar Volume 1: Lacote 1847 - 19th Century Music of Nava, Carulli, and Mertz
Len Verrett - "Spring" by Antonio Nava from "The Seasons of the Year" ...
Len Verrett - "Summer" by Antonio Nava from "The Seasons of the Year" ...
Len Verrett - "Fall" by Antonio Nava from "The Seasons of the Year" ...
Len Verrett - "Winter" by Antonio Nava from "The Seasons of the Year" ...
Len Verrett - "Vive Henri Quatre - Air Francais" by Ferdinando Carulli from "National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)" ...
Len Verrett - "Fandango - Danse Espagnole" by Ferdinando Carulli from "National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)" ...
Len Verrett - 3. "Air Anglais" - Variations on the English Air "God Save the King (or Queen)" by Ferdinando Carulli from "National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)" ...
Len Verrett - "Tarantella - Danse Napolitaine" by Ferdinando Carulli from "National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)" ...
Len Verrett - 5. "Chanson Russe" / Russian Song "Schone Minka" by Ferdinando Carulli from "National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)" ...
Len Verrett - "La Tirolienne" by Ferdinando Carulli from "National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)" ...
Len Verrett - "Caprice from op. 13 BardenKlange" by Johann Kaspar Mertz ...
Len Verrett - Opern Revue op. 8 #27 - Verdi's Il Trovatore (1847) by Johann Kaspar Mertz ...
Johann Kaspar Mertz - Opus 22 #2, Lob Der Thranen, Lied von Schubert
Len Verrett - "Opus 22 #2, Lob Der Thranen, Lied von Schubert" by Johann Kaspar Mertz ...
This is an arrangement by Mertz of a Schubert song. I adapted this arrangement to 8-string guitar by lowering certain bass notes, as this appears to have been common practice and something Mertz himself would probably have done to utilize the extended range of the instrument. This is recorded on the Bernhard Kresse Staufer 1842 replica, which fits Mertz perfectly.
Len Verrett, Guitar
The Early Romantic Guitar: Lacote 1847 - 19th Century Music of Nava, Carulli, and Mertz
Guitar Treasures of the Early 19th Century
Many masterpieces were written for the guitar, which today have little exposure because they are unavailable in print, and are not currently circulating in concert programs despite their high quality. This recording series will explore the best of the rich guitar repertoire of the early 19th century.
Tracks 1-4: Antonio Nava (1775-1821) - The Seasons of the Year op. 4, 5, 6, 7 (1808)
Although little known today, Nava was among the early pioneers to compose for the newly-invented 6-string guitar. This Italian guitarist, singer and composer was a contemporary of Sor, Giuliani, and Carulli. As was common practice, Nava composed pieces for guitar solo, duo, a method, and guitar with other orchestral instruments in the classical period framework. Nava's pieces are among the very best of the era, distinctly Italian in flavor, expressive, and employing the guitar's full range and resources.
Nava worked in Italy, Germany, Paris, and London, like his many counterparts who moved to Paris and Vienna. Ricordi published Nava's 4 Seasons in 1808, the same year as Giuliani's celebrated Sonata op. 15. It was the first opus published by this important firm. This suite of 4 short Sonatas is a lively, inventive suite. The title, and more so the sub-titles on the score announce its programmatic nature: instrumental music inspired by nature, art, or literature. The interpretation strives to evoke this imagery.
Tracks 5-10: Ferdinando Carulli, 1770 - 1841 - National Airs of the Peoples of Europe, op. 73 (1816)
- Spring: "Cantabile (song-like) Andante Espressivo (expressive, walking tempo)" evokes new growth, with effects to imitate songbirds. "The Elated Heart" brings forth images of love and joy.
- Summer: "Oppressive Heat" begins with a dramatic, stifling and intense motive. The "Zeffiretto Restaurant" brings the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant.
- Autumn: "Larghetto" alludes to the stillness and oldness of summer, and in the second section, Nava imitates falling leaves. "Andante Mosso" is pompous, bouncy, staccato, and playful, like playful children in the new school year with the formality of an institution. "The Hunt (La Caccia)" - like many similar pieces, copies the sound of hunting horns, including its intervals and range. Nava writes "Imitando I Corni" on the score - "Imitating the Horn" - an instruction to also produce a bright, brassy tone color. Later, the piece imitates a galloping horse in its rhythmic structure.
- Winter: "Adagio sostenuto" - The introduction evokes the frozen stillness and coldness of winter, and the dramatic hardship of surviving the elements. "The Chill is Gone" evokes the excitement of spring and the joy of the passing winter.
Carulli was a prolific composer who wrote nearly 400 works for guitar, and it is often stated that Carulli's output varies in quality. Some of his best pieces are exceptional, and are among the finest works of this era. Carulli's compositional abilities are demonstrated in the many large-scale works for guitar with violin, flute, piano, and many fine guitar duets. Carulli wrote many beginner level pieces (unfortunately these comprise the majority of what survives in print), but also wrote fine virtuoso works like this one.
Carulli follows the late 18th-century classical period style of Mozart and Haydn - fast and light with appropriate "affect". The "affect" did not change until a new section, thus, in accordance with most "classical" period music, individual variations would be major or minor, and consistent in their "affect" - resolute, sad, joyful, etc.. In the later romantic period, "affects" changed frequently and flowed capriciously. The dynamics, phrasing, color, intensity, and emotion are essential to bring out the music. Carulli was Italian, but later moved to Paris, and his music retains its Italian and dramatic, emotional character.
This suite of 6 theme and variation arrangements of famous national airs was published in 1816, when Carulli was 46 years old. Carulli makes effective use of counterpoint and melody, harmony, bass.
Johann Kaspar Mertz, 1806 - 1856, Tracks 11-12: Caprice from op. 13 BardenKlange and Opern Revue op. 8 #27 - Verdi's Il Trovatore (1847)
- Vive Henri Quatre - Air Francais. This air dates to the reign of King Henri IV, 1553 - 1610 of France. It is stately and ancient. The theme statement is followed by four variations.
- Fandango - Danse Espagnole. This popular dance dates back at least to the 18th century and was probably of Moorish origin. Usually danced by couples, it begins slowly, with the rhythm marked by castanets, clapping of hands, snapping of fingers, etc., - all elements of modern flamenco. Aguado and others also arranged this particular tune.
- "Air Anglais" - Variations on the English Air "God Save the King (or Queen)". The origins of the tune are unclear. Many sources state that Dr. Henry Carey composed the melody in its present form, but Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) may have composed some of the musical phrases. 'God Save The King' was a patriotic song first publicly performed in London in 1745. At least 140 composers, including Beethoven, Haydn and Brahms, have used the tune. It became the National Anthem of England and of other countries. It is the melody to the USA patriotic song, "America, My Country, Tis' of Thee" and appeared in America before 1776 as 'God Save George Washington'.
- "Tarantella - Danse Napolitaine" - The tarantella is a fast sailor's gig which is still widely popular in southern Italy, especially Naples.
- "Chanson Russe" The Russian Song "Schone Minka" was arranged often, including by major composers Hummel and Weber. This version by Carulli sounds distictly Russian.
- "La Tirolienne" - Now a region split between Austria and Italy, this song evokes Austrian alp horns and was a popular tune for arrangements. The second variation uses an effect "sotto voce" usually seen in piano music: undertone or subdued. The fifth, minor adagio variation is especially dramatic, and concluding with a virtuosic display to finalize the suite.
Mertz was celebrated in Vienna as a guitar virtuoso and composer in the 1840's and 1850's. The Russian noble and guitar aficionado Nicolai Makaroff held a world-wide competition for guitar compositions - the winner was Johann Mertz, with Napoleon Coste taking second place.
Makaroff described Mertz' music as "rich composition, great musical knowledge, excellent development of an idea, unity, novelty, grandeur of style, absence of trivial expression, and multiplicity of harmonic effects". Mertz' style is very heavily influenced by Schubert, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and especially the Italian Opera. It exudes grace, elegance, emotion, expressiveness, and charm.
Both of these pieces were published in 1847 - the same year as the Lacote guitar replica used for the recording. The Caprice comes from the "Sounds of the Bards" series of short pieces. It is capricious in its mood, changing from resolute, to angry, to sad at whim. It brings to mind a lover's quarrel.
The Opern Revue was a set of 33 pieces each composed around different popular operas, similar to Giuliani's Rossiniane series. Il Trovatore is #27 of the series; an operatic fantasy on Verdi's "Il Trovatore" (The Troubadour). It is as much the original work of Mertz as of Verdi: the fantasy potpourri is not an opera transcription, but a new, idiomatic guitar composition based on some of the opera's themes.
The amount of operatic material of the 19th century was vast, and nearly every composer wrote in this genre. Opera was as popular as movies are today, and the use of opera themes provided an instant connection of familiarity to the audience. These opern revue pieces by Mertz are among his best pieces. The music is dramatic and expressive, like the opera. In this interpretation, the guitarist drew heavily from a study of the Verdi opera, including several viewings, listening to the opera recording, and comparing the Mertz arrangement to the original opera material. This performance attempts to imitate the original opera inflections, tempo, and dynamics where the piece quotes the opera. In an historically-informed style, expect to hear wide crescendos from triple-pianissimo to triple-forte with heavy vibrato, glissando's (slides), passionate melodies, and distinct melody / accompaniment.
There are 2 sections in this recording which are changed from the score upon repeating the section. While some purists may object, it is well established that during the 19th century, the performer often introduced their own variations, altered the score, or even improvised. The troubadour song section is played softly to imitate Manrico from afar playing his lute, like the opera, but on repeat it is strummed, passionate, and forceful. The gypsy campfire section where Azucena reveals the past is played first as written, and then repeated as a flamenco-style strum. The flamenco style of playing was well established by 1847, and the Verdi song copies the Spanish gypsy genre; thus the repeat captures more the essence of Verdi's source.
Verdi's operas could send the audience into frenzy, with one newspaper clip from the 1850's discussing a riot that started during a Verdi Opera. Verdi touched on themes of revolution that were clear to the audience. The themes of tragedy, love, war, and other common opera topics were the most emotionally rousing topics possible. The audience could literally be brought to tears, laughter, excitement, or rage.
About the Guitar - Bernhard Kresse copy of 1847 Lacote
Bernhard Kresse in Germany, a specialist in the 19th century "Romantic Guitar", made this guitar in 2004, closely copied from an 1847 guitar by René François Lacôte, Paris (guitars from ca. 1819 - 1868). This design was Lacôte's most successful, as he arrived at, and continued to build this design for decades. It was widely copied. Lacôtes were played by the leading guitarists, including Sor, Carulli, Aguado, Coste, Horetzky, Madame Sydney Pratten, Zani de Ferranti, etc.. It has a very different sound than the modern guitar, more lute-like, with a punchy midrange, fast attack, easy play, singing, sweet trebles, balance between bass-mid-treble, and clarity. It is loud with a wide tonal palette.
Donn DuBois and Len Verrett, Guitar Duo
Duets for Early Romantic Guitar: Volume 1
What sounds better than a Lacote guitar ? Well, how about two identical Lacotes in duo ! These two guitars were made by Bernhard Kresse at the same time and ordered together for this duet.
Simon Molitor - French March - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Mauro Giuliani - Polonaise 1 - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Mauro Giuliani - Polonaise 2 - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Mauro Giuliani - Polonaise 3 - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Dual 8-String Romantic Guitars
This next set of duets is with two 8-string guitars; a Staufer 1842 8-string replica by Bernhard Kresse played by Len Verrett, and a Panormo 8-string replica (Master Series Custom) by Kenny Hill played by Donn DuBois.
Brazilian Traditional - Acordai Doncela - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Bach - Sheep May Safely Graze - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Grieg - Anitra's Dance - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
Charles Gounod - Funeral March of a Marionette (1872) - DuBois-Verrett Duo - 8-String Romantic Guitars
French March by Simon Molitor
This is a rare guitar duet by the early Viennese maestro Simon Molitor ( 1766 - 1848 ), Mozart-like in style. It comes from the series "Recueil de Petites Pieces Favorites, Livre III". Recorded on identical Lacote copies by Bernhard Kresse.
Mauro Giuliani: 3 Polonesi Concertanti, op. 137
These lively duets are fine works by one of the guitar's finest composers. Recorded on identical Lacote copies by Bernhard Kresse.
Giuliani - Polonaise op. 137.1
Giuliani - Polonaise op. 137.2
Giuliani - Polonaise op. 137.3
Brazilian Traditional - Acordai Doncela - This short piece is melodic and haunting; although modern it adapts well to the romantic guitar.
J.S. Bach - Sheep May Safely Graze - This piece is well-known from the Baroque era, here adapted to dual 8-string romantic guitars.
Edvard Grieg - Anitra's Dance comes from Peer Gynt and was first composed around 1875. It is adapted here to dual 8-string romantic guitars.
Charles Gounod - Funeral March of a Marionette (1872) is best known as being the theme music to the TV series "Alfred Hitchcock". It is adapted here to dual 8-string romantic guitars.
Holiday Classical Guitar Solos and Duets - Donn DuBois (duo) and Len Verrett (solo, duo)
Below are MP3 files to play on-line or download to your IPOD, PC, or other MP3 player. Files are complete with tags.
Holiday Music for two guitars and soprano
New for 2010 are a few demo pieces we recorded with a guest soprano. These were only our second rehearsal, and I hope to include re-do's and additional tracks later, but these sound OK for a demo and are presented here for your enjoyment in time for the 2010 holiday season.
Coventry Carol - Two Guitars and Soprano
Ding Dong Merrily on High - Two Guitars and Soprano
O Come Emmanuel - Two Guitars and Soprano
O Holy Night - Two Guitars and Soprano
Pat A Pan - Two Guitars and Hand Drum
What Child Is This - Two Guitars and Soprano
Holiday Music for Guitar Solo and Guitar Duo
Angels We Have Heard on High
Anitra's Dance (Grieg)
Away in a Manger
Acordai Doncela (Brazilian Traditional)
Carol of the Bells
Giga - Santiago De Murcia
Ding Dong Merrily On High
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Good Christian Men Rejoice
Good King Wenceslas
I Saw Three Ships
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Jingle Bell Blues
Lass of Patie's Mill
Marionette March (Hitchcock Theme)
French March - Simon Molitor
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Come Emmanuelle
O Holy Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Greensleeves - Pickering Lute Book
Russian Dance - Nutcracker
Sheep May Safely Graze - Bach
Sussex Carol, Verralls Air
The First Noel
Villancico de Navidad - Augustin Barrios
We Three Kings
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
What Child Is This
Download complete ZIP file of the holiday music (62 MB containing all 35 MP3 files, voice files not included):
Verrett-XMAS.zip (LARGE FILE DOWNLOAD)
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