Early Romantic Guitar Recordings and Artists

The following are the editor's pick for best recordings and artists of Early Romantic 19th Century guitar, covering classical guitar music from about 1775-1860. Recordings which contain pieces outside this time frame and style are generally excluded, unless the recording includes ground-breaking, rarely recorded important pieces. Recordings on period instruments or replicas are preferred. The selections here represent the editor's personal opinion for recommended recordings in this style.

If you have a recording to recommend, please send the editor your review in the format the others are listed, and it will be considered. If you are a vendor or artist with a recording for sale, send the editor a free copy to evaluate. The editor reserves the right to decide, based exclusively on personal taste, which ones to list and exclude.

Many Naxos CD's are listed because they are affordable for personal collection. The sound quality and artistry are of high standards. Artists include top tier guitarists, many of whom have won the GFA or other prestigious competitions, such as Jeffrey McFadden, Adam Holzman, Jason Vieaux, etc.. - all under the artistic direction of Norbert Kraft, who is himself a concert guitarist.

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Newest Reviews
Internet Vendors

Newest CD Reviews

Frank Bungarten - J. K. Mertz: The Last Viennese VirtuosoFrank Bungarten - J. K. Mertz: The Last Viennese Virtuoso - This recording is my personal favorite of all Mertz recordings. It is truly a reference recording, reflecting the musical style, interpretation, and timbre of the original music. Featuring 67 minutes of the works of Mertz, it is performed on a replica of what was likely the exact style of guitar used by Merz: an 1861 10-string Sherzer made by Gary Southwell, with a top from the stock of Julian Bream. Frank Bungarten is one of the top classical guitarists today, who in 1981, Andrés Segovia honoured him with the first prize at the Guitar Competition of Granada. The playing is musical and impeccible. The 10 strings enable playing the pieces as intended, for example, the Fantasie Hongroise is written for a 10-string guitar and we hear the full range, with thankfully a very musical rendition of this piece (anyone wishing to learn these pieces should get the recording or check out Frank's YouTube videos). The recording covers the concert repertoire by Mertz, providing welcome recordings of substantive but neglected repertoire. With virtuosity in abound, Frank's musicality and style presents an historically informed, exceptional rendition. 10 of 10 stars!

Internet Vendors

Your best bet is to try several on-line vendors to find which one has the best price and has the item in stock. This is not a comprehensive list, but just ones that I have personally ordered from with good results in the past. Try looking for the composer name, artist name, parts of the title, catalog number, etc. to locate a specific recording, and try several vendors.

Amazon and ITunes are also good sources for downloadable music, with excellent selections of classical music, including many hard to find classical guitar recordings that may be out of print on CD but available on MP3 or IPOD.

Amazon Amazon has many CD's as well as books.

CD Universe Another popular CD-vendor with secure credit-card ordering over the web.

EMEC A Spanish label which carries the Maruri catalog and other works.

Harp Guitar Music Their CD selection for romantic period works is small, but includes hand-picked selections chosen for their quality, for example both CDs from Brigitte Zaczek, as well as other performers who are hard to find. Better pricing for US buyers vs. European dealers with shipping costs and weak $ vs. Euro.

Naxos Label The Naxos label produces classical guitar recordings of high quality, reasonable prices ($5 per CD), and solid artistic integrity. Under the direction of well-respected artist Norbert Kraft, Naxos is producing authoritative recordings such as the complete output of Sor and Coste, and other ground-breaking recordings of guitar literature. Naxos does not sell direct, but you can get the catalog number and CD name from here to search. From the main page go to Series, Naxos Guitar Collection.

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CD Recordings

Sections Below:

Solo Guitar - Various Artists
Solo Guitar - Single Composer
Terz Guitar
Duets, multi-guitar
Guitar with Other Instruments or Voice

Solo Guitar - Various Artists

The Century That Shaped The Guitar The Century That Shaped The Guitar James Westbrook assembled this CD to accompany the book of the same title (reviewed on the "Accessories" page of this site). It features performances on historical instruments by Ulrich Wedemeier, Taro Takeuchi, and Paul Gregory. The performances are good, and each player brings a different angle, as Ulrich and Taro are early music specialists, while Paul is more of a modern classical guitarist (and is as good as anyone I've heard). The choice of instruments and choice of repertoire is to be commended. Instrumentation includes many important historical guitars: 9 different instruments (1798 and 1830 Fabricatore, 1802 Juan Pages 6-course, 1828 Panormo, 1830 Lacote, 183x Staufer-Legnani, c1833 CF Martin, c1880 Boullangier/Pratten, and an 1889 Torres). Music includes rare and probably debut recordings of Nuske, Ferandiere, Janon, Holland, and Pratten. Also included are more familiar pieces by Sor, Aguado, Giuliani, Legnani, Huerta, Arcas, and Tarrega - but here, the historical instruments and interpretation makes them unlike nearly any other recording. The Panormo was owned by Huerta, and here we have a recording of Huerta on his own guitar. The 1802 Juan Pages is an early Spanish 6-course (double-strung) instrument as probably played by early Sor - thus the inclusion of the early Grand Sonata opus 14 on double-course was an eye-opener. The Ferandiere with strummed double courses strongly hails the Baroque guitar in this transitional period, and Takeuchi does full justice to the music. The Lacote is a special double-top guitar (probably where Contreras got the idea) outfitted for a tripodison as Aguado specified; thus this may have been Aguado's guitar or one of his students. The Lacote sounds amazing, as does Paul Gregory's rendition. The Torres also stands out as a highlight: a mahogany-backed Torres; it sounds sweet and yet more close to the sound of the other 19th century guitars than today's modern guitar. The Torres tone is resonant, sweet and full, and again Paul Gregory gives a superb performance of an extended operatic fantasy by Julian Arcas (a welcome addition to recorded repertoire), and Tarrega's arrangement of the Malats Serenata Espanola which was transcribed from Tarrega's own hand via the Leckie manuscripts. Very highly recommended. Limited edition available from the author.

Patrick Appello - Last Rose of SummerThe Last Rose of Summer - Patrick Appello - This recording features an historical instrument from the Augustine collection, an original 1846 Lacote, performed by professor Patrick Appello from New York, USA. The selection of repertoire draws a well-chosen set of musically satisfying pieces which have not been overplayed from J.K. Mertz and Mauro Giuliani. The Mertz works are solo guitar arrangements of vocal works, first a large-scale (12-minute) Mertz operatic fantasy on the Donizetti opera 'Lucia di Lammermoor' followed by two Schubert song arrangements (Message of Love, The Mail). The 7 Giuliani pieces are 3 of the 6 Irish Airs op. 125, and 4 pieces from op. 148 (Sentimentale, Allegria, Melanconia, Armonia). The highlights of the CD for me were the Schubert pieces, which were played with elegance and grace, and a good match to the timbre of the Lacote, as were the first two Irish airs by Giuliani ("Last Rose of Summer" and "My Lodging is on the Cold Ground"). This particular Lacote seemed highly treble-dominated whether due to the recording engineering or its age, which in my opinion matched more effectively on some pieces but not as well on others. This particular instrument, when pushed to Forte and especially Sforzando (e.g. a forceful, sudden accent), in the treble registers sounded a bit thin and brittle to my ears, for example, on the second measure of the opening Mertz selection. On a modern guitar, an aggressive playing style would be effective, or perhaps had it been played a tad more lightly, elegantly, and less ponticello to compensate for the guitar's personality.

The Guitar in Vienna - Dennis Cinelli - This is a pure early romantic guitar CD, one of my favorites that should be on your "short list" to acquire also. A labeled, rare 1830 Staufer-Legnani model is used for the recording, with gut strings and period A=430 tuning; a rare chance to hear the sonority of this classic instrument. Presents Viennese music of the era, on this famous Viennese guitar: selections by Strauss (arr. Coste), and Vienna's own Mertz, Diabelli and Giuliani. Opus numbers are provided, and several of the pieces are ground-breaking recordings of neglected yet high quality material. As a performer, Cinelli does the music full justice: keen phrasing and dynamics, smooth virtuosity, and a full range of tone colors from this amazing guitar. Dennis Cinelli is without a doubt one of the world's foremost authorities on the 19th century guitar, as well as early music (lute, vihuela, etc.).

Guitar Variations and Dances - Dennis Cinelli - A delightful recording, covering 400 years of guitars and its repertoire. Played entirely on instruments of the period, or replicas thereof. The CD starts with the oldest form of guitar, the Renaissance 4-course guitar, with music by Adrien Le Roy, with Pat O'Brien playing a delightful cittern accompanyment. Next is the Baroque 5-course guitar, with strummed and plucked music by Corbetta, Sanz, and Le Cocq. Both instruments are treble dominated, and quite a contrast to today's guitar. An 1843 Panormo is used to cover selections by Sor and Castro de Gistau (a Fandango similar to Aguado's version), as well as Julian Arcas. This Panormo was recently restored, and sounds fantastic - with profound basses and the sweetest of trebles. Mertz is played on terz guitars, and a 10-string Scherzer copy (the same kind of guitar used by Mertz) - and Cinelli makes full use of the additional strings, as Mertz is known to have done. Cinelli is a noted authority on period instruments (see above review and artist profile), and each instrument and style is played to perfection. It is fascinating to hear this music on the original style of instrument for which it was conceived, and to hear the evolution of the guitar prior to Torres. Educational aspects aside, one can just forget all that and enjoy the finely crafted music on this CD.

Omaggio a Guadagnini - Izhar Elias - This recording stands out as a "real" early romantic guitar recording. The interpretations are different from most renditions we hear recorded today, but they sound "right" - and indeed, Izhar Elias has made an extensive study of guitar methods, as well as other musical texts of the period to arrive at the musical language of the period. The phrasing, articulation, and dynamics are carefully done and thought out for stylistic integrity. Elias has extensive credentials as a 19th century guitar specialist. Please see the artist profile below. All of the selections were pieces that are recorded or performed fairly often, but they are well worth hearing in order to appreciate the musical style of the period. This disc includes Giuliani's Grande Ouverture and Variations on a Theme of Handel, Sor's funeral fantasy op. 59, Mertz' Hungarian Fantasy and Elegy, all played on a Guadagnini 1812 guitar with A=430 tuning. Also included is a 20th century work by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Capriccio Diabolico, on a modern guitar. Elias is an able virtuoso who uses technique for musical expression. By Fineline Classical / Challenge Records.

19th Century Guitar - Shin-Ichi Fukada. Selections by Coste, Sor, Aguado, Mertz played on a period Lacote. A nice CD overall. Fukada plays at blistering tempos, emphasizing the virtuosic aspect of 19th c. guitar more so than the sensitive side. The Sor selections are "miniatures" - popular studies and the overplayed Op. 9; I would have preferred a more substantive work by Sor, but all are well done. The Aguado, Mertz, and Coste display dazzling speed, though I would have preferred a little more breathing room. The period instrument adds considerably to the aesthetic.

Romantic Guitar Favorites - Gerald Garcia. Contains 6 of the "Songs without words" by Mendelssohn (1809-1847) which are not often heard arranged for guitar; all 6 Schubert songs arranged by Mertz; Paganini 2 Caprices for Violin arranged for guitar and the Grand Sonata. The playing on this disk is accurate and measured with fine tone.

Italian Romantic Music of the Early 19th Century - Douglas James. This is surely a "must have" recording; it respects the music on its own terms, in its own original style and time. Sensitive and historically accurate performances throughout, with smooth technical proficiency on these virtuoso concert works. The casual listener can forget the "historically informed" aspects and simply enjoy the music; while scholars will appreciate the attention to detail. Dr. James performs all the selections with careful attention to period performance practice and dynamics, backed up with extensive research. The period element is further realized by the historical instruments and gut strings. Selections by Giuliani (the entire Sonata opus 15, "La Rosa", "Gran Sonata Eroica op. 150"; and selections by Regondi (Nocturne Reverie, Fete Villageoise). Dr. James utilizes 2 antique guitars of the 19th century for the recording. It is refreshing to hear all 3 movements of the famous Giuliani Sonata opus 15, using the earliest 1808 manuscript copy which contains substantial differences from later, corrupted versions in wide circulation.

La Guitarra en la Opera - Claudio Marcotulli . This CD points out that the guitar had a major role in opera music of the era. Marcotulli delivers smooth virtuosity with musical taste; a dazzling performance. The selections of Giuliani's Rossiniana #1 and Sor's Mozart Variations I could live without given how over-recorded they are, but the 3 Mertz Opern Revue pieces are dazzling and worth the CD alone. Released in Spain by Opera Tres; unfortunately the sound quality is not as good as it should be, but still acceptable overall.

Romantic Guitar Music - Deborah Mariotti - A nice selection of 3 of Regondi's most popular pieces, and the rest is Mertz: the recordings of the "Concertino" and the entire "Trois Morceaux" are not often found (if ever), as well as the Elegie. Very smooth virtuosity with bell-like tones.

Spanish Romance - Agustín Maruri Tracks 9-12 of this CD feature an 1825 Rene Lacote guitar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Maruri plays in a modern style. The choice of repertoire is a bit odd for a Lacote; it is all Spanish material, albeit from the 19th century, but composers who were just born when this guitar was built (Cano, Oudrid, anonymous airs) - a Lacote would be better represented with Sor, Carulli, Coste, etc.. Nonetheless, any fine instrument is timeless, and I found myself entranced at the Lacote's tone, with indescribably sweet and resonant trebles, delicate yet bold and complex, great balance and clarity, but not the classical boom. The Cano in particular sounds amazing on this instrument. The playing is competent, and it is refreshing to hear this under-represented repertoire. The first half of the CD is Manjon, the fine turn of the 20th century blind Spanish/Argentine composer performed on an 1858 Fuentes guitar. This CD was hard to locate; I finally called the gift shop at the museum to buy it.

Spanish Album - Agustín Maruri This CD includes composers of the later part of the "early romantic" era, such as Vinas b. 1823 and Cano and Arcas b. 1830's. (The CD also includes Soria, b 1851, and Borrero S. XIX) - all Spanish, in the generation before Tarrega but after Coste and Mertz. The music is performed on an 1858 Fuentes guitar from the Met. Museum, NY. Same playing style as the "Spanish Romance" CD; as we move later in time, Maruri's modern Spanish style becomes more appropriate to the music. This is a welcome addition of under-represented repertoire.

La Chitarra Nell '800 - Roberto Porroni . Features Sor's "Les Adieux" and the opus 59 Fantasy; 6 pieces by Mertz including 2 of the Schubert arrangments; 3 Sonatas by Paganini. Porroni's playing is very graceful and delicate; perfect for the selections.

Jens Bang Rasmussen - Sonatas Jens Bang Rasmussen: Romantic Guitar Sonatas This CD of Sonatas consists of 3 complete works and all of their movements. The selection is among the guitar's best repertoire: Sor's Grand Solo Op. 14, Giuliani's Sonata in C op. 15, and Sor's Sonate op. 22. Although there are many recordings of these works available, it is nice to hear all of the movements. Jens plays these works in a very musical manner with excellent interpretation; indeed it brings out the phrasing in ways that I felt it should be played. The guitar is a modern instrument, and although it exhibits slight buzzing in certain passages, this is a trivial issue on an otherwise well-played CD. Although titled "Romantic Guitar Sonatas" all of these works are actually from the Classical period.

David Russell Plays 19th Century Music - David Russell is perhaps my favorite classical guitarist of them all - beautiful tone, phrasing and dynamics; the interpretations serve as a reference recording, with delicacy and verve. Selections by Aguado, Mertz, Regondi and a rare recording of Broca (1805-1882).

Gabriel Schebor - La guitarra revolucionaria y romanticaLa guitarra revolucionaria y romantica - Gabriel Schebor - This important and delightful recording is primarily devoted to Latin American music for classical guitar composed in the 1800's (click on the link to obtain the CD). During this time, works by Sor, Carulli, and others were known and performed in South America, where trade and cultural ties to Europe brought these influences. The CD begins with the 6 Bagatelles by Fernando Sor, op. 43, to highlight as documented in the CD liner notes that certain prominent South American guitarists studied with Sor and brought back this technique. There is an interesting but short number of pieces composed for romantic guitar which have survived in Latin America, many of which are in this recording. This work deals mostly with Bolivian, Peruvian, Argentinian and Uruguayan works. A real highlight is the 7 Minuets by Abril Tirado (Peru 1780-1856), released in Paris in a set of 100 Minuets (a few of these Minuets are on the Boije site). These gems are similar in style to the Minuets of Sor (Tirado and Sor were born only 2 years apart), and could easily pass as works of Sor's quality. Most of the works are short, with the exception of a Sonata composed in Bolivia circa 1820 similar in style to Carulli, at 11 minutes in length. The 6 Divertissements by Fernando Cordero are included, available from Ophee. The instrument used is a Bonnel period guitar of circa 1820 with gut strings. Gabriel strictly follows Carcassi and Sor's technique: no nails, pinkie on the soundboard, and thumb rest stroke to play the instrument as detailed in the period method books. The match between technique and instrument is extraoardinary. Gabriel performs with this technique in Youtube (search for gschebor). The recording is musically satisfying and beautifully performed. Gabriel is mainly a lutenist, with a classical guitar diploma in 1991, studying with Graciela Pomponio and Víctor Villadangos. Since 1994 Gabriel has been devoted to lute, theorbo, vihuela and baroque guitar, taking up the romantic guitar in 2009 with the aim of recovering and helping to spread the unknown repertoire composed in Latin America. Gabriel teaches modern guitar, chamber music and early music in the Conservatorio Provincial Juan José Castro (Buenos Aires, where Roberto Aussel studied, and where Víctor Villadangos teaches).

Early 19th Century Guitar Music - Raphaella Smits. This recording is played on an original 7-string guitar built in Mirecourt, France around 1820. Contains 24 of the 36 Legnani Caprices, and all 6 Schubert-Mertz arrangements. The playing on this disk displays virtuosity, phrasing, tone, and a historically informed interpretation which fits the music; see artist review below.

Harmonie du Soir - Raphaella Smits. This recording is a must-have of the period guitar; all period instruments, superb playing, and ground-breaking repertoire of quality. Raphaella Smits' playing is hypnotic, virtuosic and captivating. The combination of the period concert guitars with a very musical rendition is compelling. The period guitars include the French ca 1820 7-string guitar used on her earlier CD, and a Roudhloff, Paris, ca 1830 instrument. Both guitars have different personalities and sound great. I agree with the instrument's restorer, Bernhard Kresse, who says "The sound of F. Roudhloff's instrument is impressive with a dark velvet but very powerful tone of unusual substance." Selections are roughly half Mertz and Giuliani. Mertz includes Harmonie du Soir and Le Romantique from the grand fantasies not published in Mertz' lifetime, and the Rondeau Brillant op. 11: all of which are long-overdue debut recordings as far as I know. The last Mertz selection is the Tarantelle from Bardenklange, and although recorded by Reid, Holzman and others, the recording here is definitive. The Giuliani includes the entire Sonate opus 15 - all three movements - of clearly one of Giuliani's early and best works from Vienna. Also included is Le Romarin ("Rosemary", a character piece from a suite where each movement represents flowers in a bouquet - this selection previously recorded by Starobin), and the concert staple Rossiniana #1.

The Romantic Guitar - Raphaella Smits. Recorded on 8-string guitar; seven pieces by Mertz, and 3 by Giuliani. The Mertz in particular is exceptional because the 8-string allows the full original sonority of the music; the A a full octave below the guitar's fifth string adds additional resonance in several key places. Several pieces are here that are not recorded elsewhere. Exceptional phrasing and technique; see artist review below.

David Starobin - Romantic Guitar. Starobin is an amazing performer, with impressive credentials, who plays on a Gary Southwell Stauffer replica. The performances are musical and virtuosic. Features selections by Sor which are superb concert works which sadly have not been recorded as often as Sor's earlier works, due to legal issues with publishing companies that were resolved generally after the Segovia era, and thus this music has not come to light. The Sor 7th Fantasy opus 30 and Souvenirs from a Trip to Berlin opus 56 are spectacular. Coste and Regondi is also excellent.

Terremoto con Variazioni - Michael Tröster A fine recording by this German professor of the guitar and concert artist; all the selections are played to perfection. Two rare Legnani pieces, two popular pieces by Regondi, the famous Rossiniane #1 by Giuliani, and Carulli's "Nice und Fileno" - one you don't exactly hear every day: text spoken in German intermixed with music - seems to be the story of Santa's reindeer!

Jerry Willard's Night At The OperaJerry Willard's Night At The Opera - Jerry Willard - This recording presents six operatic fantasy / overture works arranged for solo guitar from the operas of Rossini (Semiramide and Cenerentola arranged by Giuliani), Verdi (La Traviata, Rigoletto, and Il Trovatore arranged by Mertz), and Bellini (La Sonnambula arranged by Mertz). Willard plays an original instrument made by one of the greatest guitar makers of the early 19th century: Rene Francois Lacote, Paris 1820's, and tuned to low pitch A=415. These works are a welcome addition to the recorded repertoire. The Lacote used on the recording is characteristic of the early 19th century French romantic guitar tone, and Lacote in particular. Willard performs these virtuosic works with sensitivity, fluidity and a keen sense of phrasing. The Giuliani arrangements are from his works without Opus number, and the Mertz works are from the Opern-Revue, Opus 8. Each work is from 7-12 minutes in length, at 62 minutes total.

Guitar Music of Ferranti and Ferrer - Simon Wynberg This is the only CD I can find which features Zani de Ferranti, 8 pieces in all, with the exception of 1 piece on James Buckland's CD. The Ferrer is also nicely done; although a bit late romantic for this web site, the Ferranti selections have earned this CD its place. Wynberg is a talented performer and scholar who has edited many of the authoritative Chanterelle complete works series of the 19th century.

Romantic Guitar - Brigitte Zaczek I first heard Brigitte forty years ago when she played during a televised Segovia master class. Her performance of Bach impressed everyone, including Segovia himself. I, for one, have never forgotten it. Brigitte uses three different historic guitars in this recording, each of which has distinctly different sound characteristics employed for the appropriate pieces; an eight-string 1840 Viennese instrument by Ries, a Paris 1830 Rudhloff, and 1840 Lyon Le Jeuene. There are five original compositions by Mertz and two of his arrangements of Schubert and Strauss. Coste pieces are the Valse Favorite and the five-movement 1856 Grande Sérénade. For the person whose primary interests are period music on historic instruments, it sets the standard. The playing is sensitive, stylish, spontaneous and musically appropriate. The phases really breathe in a way that is unfortunately rare among guitarists. One can almost imagine they are listening to a singer instead. The recording itself is well made; it presents the tone of each guitar with extreme clarity and natural ambiance. The recording was on the Viennese Extraplatte label. This CD is top notch in packaging, liner notes, and the music. - Review by John McCormick

Solo Guitar - Single Composer

Lorenzo Micheli Aguado CD Lorenzo Micheli - Dionisio Aguado Guitar Music. Lorenzo Micheli is a major artist in the world of classical guitar; a major competition winner (including GFA), professor, and concert artist. Lorenzo has recorded an exceptional CD entirely of Aguado's music, including his best works - the entire opus 2 Rondos, opus 15 Menuet affandango, opus 16 Fandango variations, and selections from the studies. Long overdue, this CD is a standout effort, with impeccable musicianship and style of the period, and recorded on an 1850's French romantic guitar. The guitar was well-chosen; from the period, made in Paris, in excellent playing condition, and with the distinctive French / Lacote tone very suited to the music. This is on the "Stradivarius" label, and I was able to find copies on most major online CD retailer sites. These works are virtuosic and operatic, fiery and idiomatic, and Lorenzo plays them with finesse, excitement, and precision. Liner notes were well researched and informative, under the direction of Frederic Zigante.

Nicola Jappelli - CarulliNicola Jappelli - Carulli Solo Guitar Music - In making this recording, Nicola Jappelli brings to light Carulli as an unjustly forgotten composer for the guitar of concert works. While most students of the classical guitar are immersed in the studies that Carulli published for beginners, excellent though they are, the more serious works of Carulli are often overlooked and under-explored. Here we are presented with over 76 minutes of interesting and high quality debut recordings of Carulli, many of which were recovered from various libraries in the world. As an accomplished interpreter of 19th century repertoire, Nicola plays these works brilliantly, and with authenticity of style. This recording stands up to repeated listening as each hearing unveils new nuances of the music. These works were recorded on a modern replica of a 19th century guitar, a Kresse Stauffer-Legnani model concert guitar which brings a timbre to the sound in line with the composer's own instrument type. The first track is a work dedicated to L'Hoyer, a 9-minute showpiece beginning with lyrical adagio phrasing and ornamentation, developing into a virtuosic showpiece. Next is the complete opus 84 of 3 Menuets and Valses, two jewels selected out of the opus 114 compilation, and Carulli's Folias variations, which rival those of his more famous contemporaries Sor and Giuliani. These are followed by two selections from opus 262 "Petits solos brillants" and an 8-minute showcase piece "Les Sons harmoniques" which features many impressive harmonic effects on the guitar. The last track is a work in E-Major tuning that creates unusual resonances and timbre. The recording is available on both Amazon and I-Tunes.

Ferdinando Carulli - Guitar Sonatas - Richard Savino - Recorded on a Lacote-school (or possibly genuine Lacote) guitar of about 1815. The guitar sounds remarkably clear, crisp and sweet. The playing is sensitive, dynamic and clearly phrased. Presents 4 opus' of Carulli; the music is very similar to Giuliani's style.

Napoleon Coste: Romantic Guitar II - Brigitte Zaczek Finally, a CD of Napoleon Coste as it was meant to be played and heard! It is an exceptional CD that anyone interested in romantic guitar should own. This CD consists entirely of pieces by the great French guitarist-composer Napoleon Coste, 1805-1883 (for more information about the composer, see the Coste section of this web site). Coste was the leading guitarist in France and embodied the romantic guitar genre. The CD's repertoire selection of Coste's considerable output provides a good cross-section of Coste's formats and selects worthy concert pieces such as the Grande Serenade op. 30. The instruments selected are of historical significance in 19th century guitar. 5 tracks are on a very rare "Heptacorde" Coste-school Lacote made in Paris in 1855. It differs from most romantic guitars, with 7 strings, a different body shape than a typical French Lacote-school guitar, patent Lacote tuners or machines, an elevated fingerboard, extended range (22-24 frets), finger rest, and tail piece. Coste is seen in a surviving photo with a heptacorde instrument nearly identical to the one played on the recording. This Lacote is also more rare because it was "in absolutely perfect condition, no repairs, original varnish and frets" according to its owner, romantic guitar specialist luthier Bernhard Kresse. The 3 last tracks are recorded on a very special Staufer Legnani model, with adjustable neck and 8 strings, restored by Kresse. These instruments are perfectly set up, and Brigitte Zaczek masterfully evokes a robust, powerful and full sound, with no buzzing, and a varied, sweet and rich tone. These guitars easily stand up to any modern concert guitar, and have a very different sound than the Spanish classical guitar - punchy, somber, direct and sweet. Indeed the Lacote and Staufer each have their own distinct personality, as well as depth. Brigitte Zaczek plays the repertoire and instruments musically, with understated virtuosity, and she treats the instruments within their character, playing to their strengths and bringing out the richness of color each possesses. The packaging is also first rate, with a fold-out 3-panel package and ample photos as well as program notes. The recording is on the Viennese Extraplatte label.

Napoleon Coste - Complete Works - Various Artists - Naxos. The complete works of Coste, still in progress with several volumes currently available, at about $8 per CD, with high standards of artistic performance and sound quality. This is a "must have". My only regret is the editorial decision to use modern 6-string classical guitars on all the recordings. Most of Coste's music uses 7-string or 8-string guitar; it would have been nice to hear the music as written on a 7-string instrument, instead of sacrificing some of the sonority by raising the drop-D notes 1 octave.

Napoleon Coste - Guitare Romantique - Frederic Attar - Actually the entire set of Coste's 25 Etudes, plus "La Source du Lyson" to add sufficient length. Attar has performed on the restored famous Paganini-Berlioz guitar. On this recording, Attar plays a replica of that guitar with the Coste-style added 7-string. It is interesting to hear this guitar, but in my opinion this replica is muddy and buzzy on the frets. The playing is overall competent but perhaps a little sloppy at times if you listen closely. I was disappointed with the rendition of Etude 23, perhaps the hardest of the 25 - Llobet has recorded this showcase virtuoso etude at a mind-boggling fast tempo, which produces a different effect than the slower rendition here. I don't want to sound too negative on this recording; I do recommend it overall. Jeffrey McFadden has also recorded the complete 25 etudes for Naxos, but I have not heard his recording.

John Doan - Homage to Fernando SorHomage to Fernando Sor - John Doan - This work is a set of new, original compositions by John Doan, each of which was inspired by Sor's works, often quoting Sor's material for development in each piece. The works were conceived and recorded on an early Panormo guitar, possibly with a connection to Sor himself. Doan plays his works beautifully to produce this enjoyable recording. Click the link to read more about the recording.

Francois de Fossa - Guitar Trios, op. 18 - Simon Wynberg - Very melodic chamber music, reminiscent of Haydn. High artistic integrity on the recording.

Izhar EliasIzhar Elias CDSemiramide - Giuliani/Rossini - Izhar Elias - Giuliani, as with most other guitar composer / arrangers of the period, created compositions around popular operas of the day. This was especially the case with Giuliani's arrangements of Rossini operas, as Giuliani enjoyed a relationship with Rossini himself. Giuliani devoted a large portion of his total output to arrangements of Rossini's opera "Semiramide" - indeed enough material to fill 2 complete CD's for 116 minutes of music. This recording is likely the first time that the entire Semiramide has been recorded, making it a welcome addition to the repertoire. Izhar Elias extensively researched the Rossini score and the opera itself, as well as the early facsimile editions for guitar, and wrote in the opera text into the guitar edition in order to correctly phrase and stress the music, and in some cases adding cadenzas in appropriate sections, as period performers were known to have done, all in all producing a recording in a style appropriate to the period. (See also the "Omaggio a Guadagnini" CD write-up on this page for his other CD). For the recording, Izhar employs an original 1812 Italian guitar by the famous luthier Carlo Guadagnini with gut strings. Please see the artist profile below. Available through Brilliant Classics.

Mauro Giuliani - Variations - Ricardo Gallen - Naxos. A great CD of 69 minutes on a period guitar replica, with 7 entire opus' including the famous Folias and Handel variations, as well as other previously unrecorded masterpieces. Ricardo's playing is expertly crafted, with many subtleties of ornamentation and phrasing that will impress even the accomplished musician.

Mauro Giuliani - Le Rossiniane - Luis Orlandini - These pieces are arrangements by Giuliani of Rossini opera melodies, some of which are quite famous. They are as much Giuliani's composition as Rossini's; Giuliani weaves his own transitional and harmonic material into the Rossini melodies, with ingenious use of the idiom, so that they are very natural on the guitar to play and hear. The op. 119 #1 Rossiniana is a staple of numerous recordings and concert programs, but the remaining Rossiniane are not as often heard, despite being great pieces. This disk presents the entire set. The label is incorrect; they are not opus 119 #1-6, but rather opus 119-124 (opus 119 = Rossiniana #1, opus 120 = Rossiniana #2, etc.). (Rossinina = singular, Rossiniane = plural). These pieces demand virtuosity and speed. Orlandini gives a fiery performance on this disk, sometimes pushing his guitar a little past its limits, a style I prefer to the often bland, highly controlled performances we often hear. 2 CD set, 91 minutes.

Giuliani Guitar Music - David Starobin - A nice selection of some neglected masterpieces of Giuliani; mostly short works selected from various opus' rather than entire opus'. The famous "Grand Overture op. 61" has been perhaps over-recorded, but Starobin lays down the law, raining a blizzard of notes with technical prowess second to none, while never sacrificing musicality.

Music of Giuliani - David Russell - Admittedly, David Russell is my favorite mainstream classical guitarist. This CD is superbly played on a modern concert guitar, featuring Giuliani's concert works with all their movements, and thankfully no miniatures or studies. Featured are the Grande Ouverture op. 61 and Rossiniana #1 - op. 119, possibly the 2 most often recorded works, but as with Russell's CD's the playing is better than most other recordings, not to mention the top quality sound engineering. Along with these 2 war horses are the seldom-heard Rossiniana #3 - op. 121, the Sonata Eroica - op. 150, and the Sonata in C, op. 15 (with all 3 movements), a total of 65 minutes.

Filippo Gragnani - Sonate e Duetti per violino e chitarre - Annunziati / Bini / Mascilli / Fornaciari - Finally, an entire CD of Gragnani! Excellent music represented by an under-rated and exceptional composer: 3 sonatas for violin and guitar, and the entire 3 guitar duets of several movements each, some of the best guitar duet music in existence (Ricordi, Ruggiero Chiesa editor). Finely played for the most part, but there were times where the violin and guitar were not tight; sound quality is good but not great: a little too much reverb. Recommended due to the scarcity of Gragnani recordings.

Trinidad Huerta - Recuerdo Triste - Stuart Green - Finally, an entire CD of Trinidad Huerta! Huerta was a significant figure in the history of the guitar - a highly acclaimed touring virtuoso ("The Paganini of the Guitar" by one account), a dedicatee of Sor, and a minor composer. Huerta was married to the Panormo family and played the fan-braced, Spanish-style Panormo's. Stuart Green plays on a fine Panormo replica by Koji Ishii, which is perfect for the music. It sounds much like a modern Spanish guitar, but has a romantic guitar "edge" about it. A highlight of this disk for me is the Fantasy on the famous Spanish dance "La Cachucha" - Green coaxes sweet and juicy tones from the Panormo in the higher registers, and in other places executes fiery rasgueados appropriate to the time period and style - a day when there was not a difference between "classical, flamenco, and popular" music. A couple of tracks include ensemble music with guitar, piano, and voice (soprano), but the rest is solo guitar. As a composer, Huerta was not of the level of sophistication of the major composers like Sor, but the music is charming, with an earthy Spanish quality in places. Recommended due to the scarcity of Huerta recordings. Released in 2002 by Harmonicorde Recordings.

Rolf van Meurs - LegnaniRolf van Meurs - Luigi Legnani - Works for 8-String Guitar - This disc is highly recommended for its repertoire, as well as for the exceptional musicality, style, and instrumentation. Luigi Legnani is one of the most important guitar figures of the 19th century, and yet very little of Legnani's concert repertoire has been recorded except for the 36 Caprices. This disc presents a cross section of Legnani's excellent concert material: 3 national dances, 2 Fantasias, and 2 Rossini overture arrangements, one of which is a stunning rendition of the famous William Tell Overture by Rossini. It is fitting that 2 Rossini arrangements are presented, as Legnani was also an opera singer, whose music reflects the Italian Bel Canto style. As a performer and interpreter, Rolf van Meurs brings energy, musicality, and appropriate stylistic treatment of this virtuosic material with ease. Likewise, the instrument is perfect for the occasion. Legnani is known for his collaboration with Staufer to design the "Legnani Model" with its elevated fingerboard, resonant construction, adjustable neck action, and other innovations. Legnani later in life focused on guitar building. The Staufer-Legnani guitar is made by Kresse, an exceptional guitar builder for 19th century guitar reproductions. The guitar sounds powerful, dynamic, and punchy, with the distinctive romantic guitar tone, perfectly suited to the repertoire. The guitar is outfitted with 2 additional bass strings, as indeed Legnani himself utilized. The William Tell arrangement was published for 8-string, while the remaining pieces were adapted to the additional range by van Meurs, to bring out a greater orchestral effect. Mertz, Legnani, and others were known to use guitars with additional bass strings, but published for the 6-string mass market, and would have almost certainly made similar alterations in their own performances.

Luigi Legnani - 36 Capricci op. 20. Leopoldo Saracino - A competent rendition of all 36 caprices. Very good playing throughout. These pieces are short etudes which are musical gems. While the Legnani Caprices are often recorded, usually only a selected few pieces are recorded, while Saracino records the entire set. According to Prof. Saracino, "The guitar used for the Legnani CD was borrowed from the collection of Francesco Rivolta (guitar maker in Cremona). It is an instrument from early 19th Century by an unknown maker, apparently of north Italy or France. This guitar was restored first in the 50's by the famous Italian guitar maker Gallinotti. The sound is very crisp and the instrument has an incredible projection."

Pavel Steidl - LegnaniLegnani: Fantasia, op. 19 / 36 Caprices, Op. 20 - Pavel Steidl - Although the Legnani caprices have been widely recorded, this CD presents what I consider to be the definitive edition, a must-have recording, on a modern replica of a Staufer guitar, of the sort Legnani would have played. Steidl's playing is second to none, emphasizing musical interpretation in an informed manner stylistic to the period, with dazzling and amazing virtuosity where required. Also included is the Fantasy Opus 19, a brilliant pot-pourri. While the playing is top rate, unfortunately the CD does not include a booklet or notes. This recording is widely available at a low cost on the Naxos label.

Pascal Valois - MagnienPascal Valois - Guitar Works of Victor Magnien - This recording presents, for the first time in the modern era, a ground breaking recording of the neglected solo guitar works of Victor Magnien (1804-1885). Magnien was a French musician and composer who began as a violinist, studying violin under Kreutzer in Paris, and studying guitar with Ferdinando Carulli. Magnien was well-regarded as a guitarist, as evidenced by a glowing review by Fetis. Pascal Valois is an alumni of the prestigious Schola Cantorum and presents these works on a French period guitar (Cabasse-Bernard circa 1830) to represent the time period and region of the compositions, and with carefully-rendered period technique. Valois plays without using fingernails, as was the practice of Fernando Sor and others, which renders a softer and perhaps more airy sound. The combination of instrument, music, technique, and performer results in something of a time capsule of Paris in the 1830's. For those wishing to try out the works on the CD, they can all be found in free PDF's in the Boije Collection. The CD is available on I-Tunes from Centaur Records, Inc..

Wenzeslaus Matiegka: Grande Sonate for guitar. Agustín Maruri - Matiegka (1773-1830) was a popular composer in Vienna and a contemporary of Giuliani. This recording covers 76 minutes of this important repertoire; two of the complete Sonatas, and 5 pieces from opus 20. An important recording of this overlooked yet fine composer.

Frank Bungarten - J. K. Mertz: The Last Viennese VirtuosoFrank Bungarten - J. K. Mertz: The Last Viennese Virtuoso - This recording is my personal favorite of all Mertz recordings. It is truly a reference recording, reflecting the musical style, interpretation, and timbre of the original music. Featuring 67 minutes of the works of Mertz, it is performed on a replica of what was likely the exact style of guitar used by Merz: an 1861 10-string Sherzer made by Gary Southwell, with a top from the stock of Julian Bream. Frank Bungarten is one of the top classical guitarists today, who in 1981, Andrés Segovia honoured him with the first prize at the Guitar Competition of Granada. The playing is musical and impeccible. The 10 strings enable playing the pieces as intended, for example, the Fantasie Hongroise is written for a 10-string guitar and we hear the full range, with thankfully a very musical rendition of this piece (anyone wishing to learn these pieces should get the recording or check out Frank's YouTube videos). The recording covers the concert repertoire by Mertz, providing welcome recordings of substantive but neglected repertoire. With virtuosity in abound, Frank's musicality and style presents an historically informed, exceptional rendition. 10 of 10 stars!

Pavel Steidl - MertzJ. K. Mertz - Barden-Klänge - Pavel Steidl - This recording represents for me, Mertz as it was meant to be heard. Presented are 17 selections from the Bardenklange ("Sound of the Bards") opus by Mertz, recorded on an original Viennese instrument by Ries, circa 1830. Pavel's playing is dynamic, expressive, and tastefully virtuosic, and especially authentic. Pavel is a leading interpreter of 19th century romantic guitar music who has based his approach on research of period performance practices. The result is a fluid and bold interpretation with wide use of dynamics, articulation, and color. Ornamentation and cadenzas are contributed by the performer and not straight from the score, as was documented to be the practice. Pavel's depth of the genre is also enhanced by his regional heritage and knowledge of the folk song idioms and dances which form the inspiration for Mertz' compositions, adding further authenticity to the performance. The Ries guitar has a tone which ideally fits the music.

JK Mertz - Bardenklange - Adam Holzman - Naxos. Adam Holzman is one of the best guitarists alive today, and his recording of Mertz will no doubt serve as a reference. The playing is virtuosic, crisp, dynamic, with clearly delineated phrasing and adept development of musical ideas. Most, but not all of the pieces in opus 13 Bardenklange are represented. Adam explains that the pieces in the Bardenklange set vary in quality considerably, and the best pieces in the opus were selected. Anyway, at 62 minutes, the disk is filled to capacity. Some of Mertz' most famous and best pieces are represented. Recorded on Adam's usual Millenium guitar, a modern instrument with a raised fingerboard and sloped back a la Stauffer.

JK Mertz - Bardenklange - James Reid. Given the recent release of the Adam Holzman CD, I prefer Holzman over Reid if I were to buy just one. Reid occasionally reviews CD's for GFA Soundboard. I was very disappointed to read Reid's CD Review of Doug James in GFA Soundboard; he criticized James' exceptional CD simply because James played on a period guitar - a criticism that I find ludicrous. Stanley Yates rightfully wrote back to express disgust at this review. Academic sniping aside, nonetheless Reid's playing is competent, but a bit reserved; too controlled versus the dazzling virtuosity you expect to hear from this style.

Verdi's Guitar - Works by Mertz played by Alan RinehartAlan Rinehart - J.K. Mertz - "Verdi's Guitar" - This recording consists of solo classical guitar arrangements of opera music by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Alan Rinehart. The arrangements for guitar were composed by J.K. Mertz in the "Opern Revue" series; a set of well-known pieces in the 19th century classical guitar repertoire. The practice of arranging opera themes for guitar was prevalent in the 19th-century, and the works by Mertz are among the finest in the genre. Each piece is around 10-15 minutes long, and presents the operatic themes, variations, and transitional material idiomatically, as if it were originally conceived for the virtuoso guitar and yet evoking the opera for those who know the music. This disc is an interesting concept; it specifically presents the Mertz arrangements of Verdi's operas, with 6 works that represent Verdi's best operas, and some of Mertz's best arrangements: Nabucco, Ernani, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, and Il Vesperi Siciliani. The disc comes in an attractive package with notes and artwork. The performances by Canadian guitarist Alan Rinehart are on modern classical guitar and are played with an atmosphere of delicacy.

Nicolo Paganini - Guitar Music vol. 1-4 - Frederic Zigante. A 4-volume set of Paganini's complete works for guitar solo, over 4 hours and 15 minutes. Professor Zigante is a renown scholar and performer; this recording serves as a reference for others to follow. All of Zigante's CD's show the highest artistic level of this amazing guitarist. This set is indispensible if you wish to study the solo guitar works of Paganini. It can be difficult to get all 4 volumes, however.

Pavel Steidl - PaganiniPaganini: Sonate & Ghiribizzi for guitar - Pavel Steidl - This CD presents a selection of works from Paganini's solo guitar compositions, which were not published during the composer's lifetime and became available in the 1980's. Notably, the works are played on an historical instrument perfect for the task: an original Legnani model Ries guitar from Vienna, circa 1830 (the Legnani model was made by both Staufer and Ries), which is in perfect playing order with no trace of the buzzes, rattles, or intonation issues found on some period instruments. As one of the top interpreters of 19th century repertoire, Pavel Steidl plays these works exceptionally and historically-informed, bringing verve and excitement into these pieces. Includes an informative booklet with the CD. This CD is a must-have recording, available from Pavel Steidl.

Giulio Regondi - Guitar Works - John Holmquist - Naxos Contains the entire 10 etudes of Regondi, plus the 2 concert pieces "Introduction et Caprice" and "Fete Villageoise". Holmquist was engaged in the release of these 10 etudes, and provides a very competent performance on the disk. Although the Rubio guitar is modern, the playing style is appropriate.

Jens Bang Rasmussen - Rung Jens Bang Rasmussen: Henrik Rung - Danish National Composer and Guitar Virtuoso Jens has researched, catalogued, and notated works of this previously unknown Danish guitar composer. The CD consists of solo guitar works, voice and guitar works, and works with strings and guitar. The solo works are miniatures, some of which bear a strong resemblance to Sor's works - and indeed Rung played Sor's pieces (more bio details on the Composers page or Tecla). The Polonaises, opus 2, stand out as the best of these works. The CD is well-played and gives the listener a sense of how this music should sound: Sor inspired, and yet with a uniquely Scandanavian soul.

Fernando Sor - The 19th Century GuitarGianluigi Giglio - Fernando Sor - The 19th Century Guitar - Although there are many CD's of Sor's music, this CD is a truly "reference recording" as I cannot imagine a more perfect and authentic rendition of these works with tone, phrasing, balance, taste, and style. The guitar is a real treat: an 1834 Lacote with silk and gut strings and 430 pitch. This particular guitar was restored immaculately and sounds strong, elegant, and magnificent, as these works were meant to be heard, on a guitar maker Sor himself highly praised and used for his music. The selection is a cross-section of gems in Sor's solo repertoire. Although Op. 9 Variations on a Theme of Mozart is often recorded, this recording offers a refreshing interpretation in a historically-informed manner and timbre. The Fantasy Op. 58 is not often heard and has many tender and beautiful moments. The CD is 68 minutes and includes an informative booklet. Gianluigi Giglio is professor of guitar in Salerno, Italy, and earned advanced guitar degrees with honors in Naples where the CD was recorded - truly a city with strong guitar roots as a home for Carulli and Giuliani. Giglio is a leading performer of 19th century guitar and the modern classical guitar.

Ricardo Gallén with Fabricatore copyFernando Sor Guitar Sonatas - Ricardo Gallén - While there are many recordings of Fernando Sor available, this one really stands out. The works featured are among Sor's finest concert works; the complete "Sonatas" with all movements - The Grande Sonatas opus 22 & 25, Grand Solo op. 14, and the Sonate op. 15. Ricardo's playing sounds effortless and graceful, with elegant phrasing, stylistic concern, and in service of the music. The guitar employed is a modern reproduction by Arnoldo Garcia of a Fabricatore, arguably one of the most important guitars of the early 19th century. The guitar sounds beautiful in Ricard's hands; it has the punchy and clear period guitar tone one expects, minus the challenges often encountered on antique guitars. A few highlights are the slow movement of the Grande Sonate op. 22 with bell-like, singing trebles, in a vocal manner expected for Sor's music, while the rapid arpeggios are executed in an historically-informed manner, with an authenticity of Spanish character reflecting the artist's heritage from Spain.

Fernando Sor - Minuets - Agustín Maruri It is an interesting and effective concept to feature on one disk all of Sor's Minuets (complete except for one theme & variation work which isn't really a strict minuet, and some duplicated opus #'s). These pieces are charming miniatures, 35 pieces in all, between 1 and 3 minutes in length. Some of the minuets are gems indeed and familiar to most classical guitarists. It is also interesting to note that many of the minuets date to Sor's early period in Spain in the classical period and style. The instrument used for this recording is especially noteworthy: a Lacote 1840 guitar, in pristine condition and restored by Ignacio Rozas. The instrument sounds clear, sweet, and robust - but different from today's classical guitars - more like the instruments used in Sor's day - and indeed typical of the guitar Sor played later in his career. Maruri took great care in assuring the note value corrections were done properly, researching the material, and is adept on this CD at bringing out the top voice over the harmony - especially important on Sor with 2-4 part writing.

Fernando Sor - Complete Works - Various Artists - Naxos. The complete works of Sor, at about $5 per CD, with the highest standards of artistic performance and sound quality. This is a "must have". The collection lacks a few opus numbers, e.g. 6-9.

Fernando Sor - Complete Works - Lawrence Johnson. Lawrence Johnson recorded the complete works of Sor and other modern classical guitar works over several years. The 2-CD set of MP3 files is only around $20: it contains the complete solo works of Sor, with bonus tracks of other composers: this is a total of 358 pieces, over 20 hours of music. MP3 files can be played on nearly any standard Windows PC using the built-in Media Player, or copied to an MP3 player. The sound quality of MP3 is not as good as a full CD-ROM, but the advantage is the small file sizes, which allows the collection to easily fit on 2 CD's. For the guitarist who wants to get an idea of how these pieces sound to select pieces for study, or just to listen to Sor's music on a PC, this is a good bargain. As an independent production, the engineering quality in my opinion did not sound as good as Naxos or other major labels, but it is probably good enough for many people. Full CD's are offered, but there I prefer the Naxos series.

Fernando Sor - Les Plus Belles Pages - David Starobin. What stands out in Starobin's recordings is his musicianship: a keen sense of phrasing, period interpretation, understanding the architecture of the piece, the voicing is well executed, the tempos make sense, there is tension and release in the right places, understated virtuosity, etc.. The instrumentation on this recording is a history lesson in itself: a Herman Hauser 1923 guitar, pre-Segovia (Hauser copied the Spanish guitar for Segovia, who concertized on this instrument for many years and catapulted Hauser's fame). This 1923 Hauser is based on the 19th century German / Viennese / Italian guitar, especially the Staufer-Legnani model, and indeed this guitar sounds like other 19th century guitars and sounds nothing like the modern Spanish guitar. Starobin also shortened his nails to allow more flesh tone in line with Sor's no-nails technique. The liner notes point out Sor's method calls for some nail use to achieve an effect. The liner notes were excellent and informative. There are only 2 larger-scale "concert works" on the CD however: the Fantaisie Villageoise op. 52, and a Theme and Variations, opus 20. The remaining pieces are etudes and miniatures, most of which will be familiar to the average classical guitarist who has played any Sor. On the one hand, it is refreshing to hear these short yet charming works played well, but on the other hand I wished there were at least one more substantive work on the CD like one of Sor's fine Sonatas. These 2 concert works stood out as highlights: the op. 52 fully exploits the bell-tower effects and church chorus imitation, and uses tempo variation inventively, while op. 20 was so infectious that it left me whistling the tune for several days, and it was nice to hear a good recording of this rarity.

Fernando Sor-“Pieces de Societe”-Nicola Jappelli. Nicola Jappelli gives an excellent performance of the eighteen pieces on this Frame recording (FRO242-2), which include eight minuets from Opus 11; selections from "Pieces de Societe," opus 33; the "Les Folies d'Espagna" variations, Opus 15a; a Caprice opus 50 and "Est ce Bien ca?" Opus 48. Japelli plays a Stauffer Legnani model replica by Berhard Kresse. There is a feeling of weightlessness and ease to his playing which brings out the lyricism that characterizes so much of Sor’s music. Nowhere on this CD does Jappelli try to dazzle us with pyrotechnic virtuosity: rather, he brings to the music a quality of gentleness and a feeling of serenity. Overall, despite the fact that all but four of the selections are in triple time, I found this a very satisfying recording. (Review by David Rastall)

John Doan John Doan - The Lost Music of Fernando Sor. This CD is aptly titled "Lost Music" because for nearly 2 centuries, these compositions by Sor - perhaps the guitar's most important composer - have been ignored or unavailable because they were written not for the guitar, but for a close relative called the "Harpolyre". According to Richard Long in GFA Soundboard Magazine, Vol. XXXIV, No. 3, 2008 on page 86-87, "The new instrument had 21 strings on three necks; the central neck (manche ordinaire) was tuned like a standard guitar... Above the central neck was the chromatic neck, with seven silk strings with metal windings. Below the central neck was the diatonic neck, with eight gut strings.... the designations or, di or ch above certain notes [refer] to the neck on which the notes are played." This recording contains all of the known pieces Sor wrote for Harpolyre: Six Progressive Pieces, Funeral March, and "Three Pieces for Harpolyre" - for a total of 45 minutes of music. As an added treat, the music is played on a very rare original antique period instrument from around 1830, through which Doan takes us back to another time period. The very occasional fret buzzing is easily forgiven due to the rarity and originality of the instrument employed, and while perhaps noticeable to a classical guitarist listening closely, it is probably not noticeable to other listeners. Sor makes use of the instrument's resources, using the low basses and resonant chromatic strings to full effect. The pieces are very characteristically Sor's, and I very much look forward to a standard guitar transcription of these works, especially one which indicates the low basses which can be realized to a fuller extent on 8-10 string guitars. To hear the pieces as written, we have Doan's excellent reference recording, and there is probably no other person living today who has mastered the original Harpolyre. Although the instrument was never a commercial success, reviving an enjoyable suite of pieces by Sor that have not been heard in our time, is reason enough to hear it today. John Doan has solid credentials as a professional performer and plays these works with sensitivity and mastery. The packaging, booklet, and art work were informative and well produced.

Terz Guitar

Duo Ghiribizzi - Ghiribizzi Three Terz duos. The review of this fine recording is in the Duets, Multi-guitar section.

Two Guitars in Vienna - Pat O'Brien and Dennis Cinelli - Twelve duets by Mertz for Terz guitar and 6 - 10 string guitar. The review of this fine recording is in the Duets, Multi-guitar section. p>

"Mauro Giuliani Concerti per chitarra e orchestra" Duo Maccari-Pugliese The review of this fine recording is in the Guitar with Other Instruments or Voice section.

Sonatas and Fantasies for Guitar - James Buckland - With a doctorate thesis in early romantic terz guitar, James Buckland is eminently qualified to present this rare and exceptional recording on Terz guitar. My only regret for this CD, is that only one Terz guitar work is presented: "Fantaisie Variee sur la Romance d'Otello" by Zani de Ferranti; the only other recording of Ferranti known to exist is by Simon Wynberg, on a darker sounding modern guitar. This is an outstanding concert piece with several movements and specifically written for Terz guitar; very operatic influence with blistering virtuoso arpeggios and cadenzas. The lack of Terz guitar material may be due to the lack of pieces in print, but inclusion of Renaissance works at original pitch, a forte of the Terz guitar, would have been desirable. I look forward to more recordings from Dr. Buckland, especially featuring Terz guitar, since he is the most qualified to break new ground in this area. The Terz guitar has a clear voice, elegant and refined. Buckland is also a luthier who plays instruments he built himself on this CD. The other pieces are on a Hauser reproduction, including the often-recorded Paganini Grand Sonata. However, this recording shows distinction on that piece because Buckland referenced the original violin and guitar score, and adds such details as an improvised cadenza as recommended by Paganini in the authograph score, and an improvised ending to the last movement; all of which are in character. The remaining pieces are 20th century works; the Sonata by Jose, and a Rodrigo piece, all nicely done. Buckland plays fast passages with ease, sounding smooth and clear even in the most difficult passages by Ferranti and Paganini. Phrasing and dynamics are all top notch. Highly recommended.

Vox Temporis Productions Catalog Item: "CD92 008 The Romantic Terz Guitar - Original Guitar Duets - Peter Pieters, Micheline Dumortier" - This CD was very hard to find, but after I finally obtained a used copy, it was worth the wait. On this CD are duos for terz guitar with normal guitar; which was a very popular combination in the 19th century. The repertoire selection is superb: Giuliani's 3 Rondos opus 66 - which stood out in my sight reading as one of his best terz duos - a conclusion obviously shared by this duo, also Giuliani's Gran Pot-Pourri op 67 - a concert work, 7 terz duos by Mertz, and a Fantaisie on themes of Bellini (op. 22) by Pettoletti - which I also found as one of the best terz duos. The instrumentation could not have been more ideal: a terz guitar replica after Guiot, and a period Lacote of 1820. These guitars sound very different from today's instruments. This is a true romantic guitar CD that receives my highest recommendation.

Duets, Multi-guitar

Giuliani Complete Duo Works - Maccari & Pugliese Mauro Giuliani Complete works for guitar duo: Duo Maccari-Pugliese. This CD is a must-have recording of essential listening for anyone interested in the early romantic guitar. It consists of a 3-CD set and over 3 hours of music, with an attractive cover and liner notes. Giuliani needs no introduction, as one of the most important guitar composers of all time, and these duo works comprised a large portion of his total output, and much of his best material. The Duo Maccari-Pugliese is recognized as a leading ensemble in the field, and are sought out for their expertise by performers and researchers world-wide, including John Williams. The performances are magnificent, capturing the operatic nature of many of the works and played in a style appropriate to the time period. The duo plays with dynamics, tightness, and blazing speed where required to serve the music. All of the guitars used are period instruments, including museum-quality guitars by Guadagnini, Pons, and Fabricatore, and the CD notes indicate which guitars were used. The period guitars are strung with gut strings and tuned to A430, in order to closely reproduce the instrument timbre of the day. The guitars themselves also contribute substantially to the ambiance and the interpretation, as they respond very differently than the modern guitar. As a complete set, it features the full range of Giuliani's output: concert virtuoso works such as the Concert Variations op. 130 and 35, operatic fantasies (where Giuliani had unprecedented access to Rossini in person and to his manuscripts, and wrote probably the best rendition of Rossini works for guitar by anyone), and the many short "Landler" pieces on CD 2 probably intended for the popular audience, as well as such gems as the "Three Rondos" op. 66, and the 3 Polonaises op. 137, among others. The only omissions from being a "complete" work, are two of Giuliani's reduction arrangements of his own orchestral works, as the full versions can be heard on the duo's "Complete Guitar Concertos" CD. In addition to listening for enjoyment, guitarists who are looking for duet works to play will appreciate being able to sample the complete output.

Fernando Sor - by Arte en Parte: . Featured on this CD are 6 complete opus numbers of Sor, including the "Souvenir de Russie", "Divertissements", "L'Encouragement", "Fantaisie", and "6 Valses". The guitars used are two 1840 Panormo replicas by the contemporary German luthier and romantic guitar specialist Bernhard Kresse. This recording is enjoyable from start to finish, and represents some of Sor's best works; indeed Sor was able to achieve more intricate harmony and melodic independence with duet writing, and coming late in Sor's career, these duos show the mature composer at his finest. The Arte en Parte duo plays tastefully and brings out the best qualities of the music. The smallest details of dynamics, phrasing, and style were all considered in the interpretation. The Spanish heritage of the performers is evident in their natural-sounding interpretations; for example, the ending of opus 54, "Dans le genre Espagnol" ends with strummed rasgeado chords, played with authenticity and completely within the folk character of the piece. In other pieces, the duo brings out the character of the pieces - tender, expressive, capricious, or bold as required. By using two matched guitars, the balance of the duo is enhanced even further. Panormo guitars were an excellent choice: they have a round, "Spanish" sound similar to a modern classical guitar, but also have plenty of punch, midrange and tone as in a typical romantic guitar (and Panormo was cited by Sor as one made to his specifications).

Doug James - Pasquale Rucco Duo Early Romantic Music for 2 Guitars. One of my all-time favorite CD's, James and Rucco play on authentic gut-strung 19th century guitars in a historically-informed style. The tone on their antique guitars is amazing. The Rossini-Giuliani pieces are still famous today, one which you will immediately recognize; these are real pearls of the 19th century guitar repertoire. Includes rare Gragnani and Barco duets that the duo unearthed in libraries. This duo plays with tightness and brings the music to life with excellent phrasing and dynamics, and tone second to none.

Doug James - Pasquale Rucco Duo A Night at the Opera - Music of Rossini arranged for two guitars. The James-Rucco duo delivers another solid CD production, with verve, musicality, and excitement within the stylistic genre, on gut-strung period guitars. The guitars bring a completely different sound than the modern instrument, more like what would have been heard in Rossini's time. On this 2004 CD release, James and Rucco play an all-Rossini CD, with arrangements by Giuliani, Spina, Carulli, two attributed to Carulli, and a Tarantella arranged by the duo. Rossini's influence on guitar music of the early 19th century cannot be overstated, and the operatic fantasy on themes of Rossini is arguably one of the most frequent guitar composition styles of the day. The arrangements, the themes, the playing, the instruments, and the engineering on this recording are all excellent. After a few listenings, I found myself humming and whistling the melodies, as Rossini was the quintessential composer of catchy tunes!

Duo Ghiribizzo - Ghiribizzi This Italian duet presents an outstanding CD. Both players weave their playing together tightly to present one coherent musical statement. The playing is lively, fresh and spontaneous and yet tasteful and in full control, sensitive, and with energy and excitement. The interpretation is historically informed and period-appropriate. Rather than play what everyone else is playing, this duo chose often-neglected yet worthy masterpieces for which I had no other recording. Of the four Mertz duos, three are played on a Kresse Terz guitar 1820 replica guitar as the composer wrote - a welcome addition to scarce Terz guitar recordings. Also utilized are a Carbone 1833 Panormo replica, and an Austrian 1820 guitar. Original manuscripts were used from European libraries, including a rare recording of an extended operatic fantasy by Molino. Giuliani recordings are the extended Rossini-style opus 116, the complete Tre Polonesi op. 137, and his arrangement of Bellini's famous opera overture "The Pirate".

Duo Ghiribizzo - LHoyer-Gragnani Duos Concertans On this new release, the Paola Minussi and Joachim Geissler duo presents another outstanding recording. At 77 minutes, this CD is packed with two duet suites in their entirety: Antoine de LHoyer Opus 31 Numbers 1-3 (published ca 1814) and Filippo Gragnani Duos 1-3 (published ca 1810). This is a good choice of repertoire: both composers were born in 1768, and both are among the finest guitar composers of the late 18th and early 19th century, especially for ensemble music. Because this music was re-discovered only recently, it sounds fresh and provides music not commonly heard or recorded. The packaging and sound quality are first-rate, recorded in clear 24 bit digital in 2003, with informative liner notes and interesting pictures. The guitars used are historic, original 19th century period guitars: Louis Panormo 1843, and a French guitar with a partially obscured label "Ble...a Paris" ca. 1835. The period guitars sound fantastic: well-balanced, clear, punchy, and sweet like you would expect from a fine romantic concert guitar, and entirely idiomatic to the sound the composers had in mind. The performers play tightly with dramatics and energy to deliver a tasteful and lively CD in a manner consistent with historically-informed practice.

Two Guitars in Vienna - Pat O'Brien and Dennis Cinelli - Twelve duets by Mertz for Terz guitar and 6 - 10 string guitar. A highly recommended recording by two authorities on early romantic guitar and early music. This recording is a reference for the Mertz duos. The terz guitar, tuned a third higher than a normal guitar, is rarely recorded despite its prominence in 19th century music. Terz guitar extends the upward range of the guitar and provides keen projection on top of the ensemble. The 10-string guitar gives crucial low bass note coverage, a juicy addition at well-placed points. The combination of Terz and 10-string gives this duo incredible range. Performances on the disk are sensitive and dynamic, in tight tandem. Repertoire coverage is first rate, presenting not only the Mertz duets in print, but also 2 duets that were previously unknown.

Johann Kaspar Mertz Complete Works - Duo Maccari-Pugliese - Eleven duets by Mertz for Terz guitar and 6 - string guitar. Played entirely on period instruments with gut strings: these instruments sound radically different from the modern guitar. This duo handles the music nicely, with fine playing throughout. Titled "Complete Works" but it is actually the complete duo works, but not actually "complete" because it is missing the "Der Ball" piece.

John Schneiderman & Hideki YamayaAdam Darr German Romantic Guitar Duets - Schneiderman Yamaya Duo - This is a ground-breaking 2-CD set, featuring the guitar duet works of Adam Darr (1811-1866). Darr is most known for his Zither compositions and method, but sadly his guitar works have been out of print for many decades, with a few pieces available on REX and Boije. While virtually unknown today, Adam Darr was an important guitarist and composer in the 19th century, based primarily in Germany and settling for 3 years in Russia. Stylistically, the music is German Romantic, and sounds very similar in style and quality to the compositions of JK Mertz, who is more well-known to today's guitarists. More information on Darr can be found on the following page on this web site: Early Romantic Guitar - Composers - Adam Darr. This music is brought to life by John Schneiderman & Hideki Yamaya, both of whom have impressive performance credentials and an historically-informed approach to render the music as intended with sensitivity, skill, and grace. The duo employed period instruments for the recording, including Romantic guitar, Terz guitar, and a 10-string guitar. The 10-string guitar is a period German/Austrian style harp guitar with two necks and floating basses, of the style that would have been played by Darr and Mertz. There is more than an hour of music spanning 2 CDs, and an informative booklet in German and English text, with contributions from the performers and Joseph Costello, who deserves credit for re-discovering many of these works while in Europe.

Guitar with Other Instruments or Voice

Pilar Moral & Nicola JappelliCastro Sor Moretti: Seguidillas, Boleros y Canciones. Pilar Moral, Soprano & Nicola Jappelli, Romantic guitar - Featured in this recording are voice and guitar works from three early pioneering composers for guitar: Salvador Castro de Gistau, Fernando Sor, and Federico Moretti. The program is a cohesive set of works as all three composers were born in the same time period (c.1770, 1778, 1765), and native to Spain as in the case of Sor and Castro, or a naturalized Spaniard as in Federico Moretti. While Sor's guitar works are well-known, the complete Segiudillas Boleras from Sor's early period in Spain are presented in their entirety. Castro de Gistau and F. Moretti are important figures in the guitar's history, and this recording of their voice and guitar works fills a critical void. The romantic guitar used for the recording is a Stauffer-Legnani model by Kresse, which adds a distinctive timbre to the music appropriate to the style and time period. Pilar Moral is an accomplished soprano, native to Spain, who brings an authenticity of performance style to these late 18th/early 19th century Spanish works. Moral's vocal performance is sublime, with purity of tone and a rendition in accordance with historical practice. Jappelli plays with taste and adds a perfect accompaniment role during the vocal performance.

Duo VitareCanzonetta Italiana - Duo Vitare - Consisting of 19th century works for cello and guitar duo, this recording introduces modern audiences to world premiere recordings of a few neglected or recently-unearthed gems of the cello and guitar repertoire. Presented are two works attributed to Luigi Legnani, a name well-known to solo guitarists; first is a concert pot-pourri arranging sections from Legnani's solo Caprices with other standards of the day, and the title piece "Canzonetta Italiana" with concert variations. Also included is a work by Adam Darr, which is somewhat in the romantic style of Mertz. My favorite of the set was a duo by Gatayes, a lesser-known French guitarist-composer (1774-1846), in the classical style. Both instruments are modern. The performances are well-crafted and balanced, with good sound engineering and packaging.

Molino Trio CD Francesco Molino - I trii per flauto, viola e chitarra. Presented on this CD are 3 complete opus works by the guitar composer Francesco Molino (1768-1847), all for flute, viola, and guitar. It contains the Grand Trio Concertant op. 30 (4 movements), Three Trios op. 4 (3 trios of 3 movements each), and the Second Grand Trio Concertant op. 45 (3 movements), a total of 66 minutes of music. The CD is on the Italian "Tactus" label and features notes in Italian and English. The performances are first-rate, bringing out finer nuances in each composition. It features the first violist and first flutist of the S. Cecilia Orchestra in Rome (Flute: Carlo Tamponi, Viola: Raffaele Mallozzi), and the noted professor of guitar and performer Gianluigi Giglio. Molino was not only an important guitar composer, but also accomplished on the violin and oboe, where he held important posts. Much of Molino's output, and possibly his best output as with many other 19th century composers, was for ensemble, thus making this CD a good representation of the composer's music. Featured on the cover, is a well-known depiction of the rivalry between followers of Carulli and Molino - both of whom were Italian ex-patriates living in Paris.

Fernando Sor - Seguidillas Boleras, by Xavier Díaz-Latorre and his ensemble "Laberintos Ingeniosos": CD Link. This is a CD of entirely Fernando Sor, featuring the works for guitar and voice "Seguidillas Boleras". Also included are solo guitar works "Estudio" (Op 6 #11 or Segovia Study 17), the Variations on a Theme of Mozart opus 9, and the duo for two guitars "Les Deux Amis" opus 41. The CD is divided into sections or "acts" as "Acto Primero" and so forth, with the works without voice inbetween the sections. Instrumentation includes romantic guitars of the style from this time period, multiple vocalists in harmony, and castanets / castagnettes. The CD includes an informative booklet which summarizes the period, the composer, the style and ensemble, with notes in French, English and Spanish. The percussion, harmonization, musicianship and romantic guitar tones all come together to produce a throughly enjoyable recording. This style is of Sor's early Spanish period, which evokes a distinct Mozart influence as well as a nationalistic Spanish character. As Sor's music is vocally inspired, understanding Sor's vocal works is important to understand Sor's overall style. The works without voice were also nicely done, light and airy and well interpreted in the romantic guitar sound, and chosen to compliment the vocal works in style. The last track on the CD is a modern Cuban style bolero, added in accordance with the performers' tradition of using this as an encore; it provides a nice link between the bolero of yesterday to the current tradition.

"Fernando Sor: My Careless Eyes, Songs and Guitar Music” (Gaudeamus GAU 344)-Evelyn Tubb, soprano and David Parsons, guitar. - This is a pleasing look at Sor from a distinctly early-music perspective. Parsons, playing a Panormo restoration, gives quiet, thoughtful performances of nine solo pieces. His playing is intimate-sounding, and at times quite lute-like. Also featured are eight of Sor's Seguidillas. Tubb’s performance of these is exquisite. She embraces the idiom and beauty of the Spanish language in a style perhaps more reminiscent of the renaissance than the grand-operatic stage. I think her skillful use of language brings to the listener a sense of close contact with Sor's vocal music. (Review by David Rastall)

Leopoldo Saracino (guitar) and Massimo Palumbo (piano) - "Carulli: Complete Works For Guitar And Fortepiano" - Early Romantic Music for Guitar and Fortepiano. This CD is quite an achievement: the complete output of Carulli for guitar and forte-piano, in a box set with 8 CD's. This set is also a bargain, available at many outlets online for around $20. Both performers are solid, and present a delightful and historically-accurate interpretation style to give the music full justice. Both instruments are original to Carulli's time: Massimo Palumbo plays an original Fortepiano by Felix Gross, from Vienna 1812, and Leopoldo Saracino plays an original guitar Gaetano Guadagnini, 1820. The sound character of these instruments is very different from today's piano and guitar, which further enhances the effect. The forte-piano of those days was smaller and quieter, and was a good match for the guitar - as evidenced by the thousands of pieces written for this combination by various composers in the early 19th century. Carulli is not given due credit today as a composer; his best works hold up well to many other composers of the period. Carulli's music is very much set in the late 18th century classical period style. Being a complete works set, the pieces range from virtuoso concert show pieces, variations, Rossini opera theme arrangements, Nocturnes, Sonatinas, and some simpler pieces intended for average players. Most of Carulli's output was in the form of chamber works for multiple instruments with guitar, and some of Carulli's finest pieces are part of this collection. This CD set is definitely a "must have" in the early romantic guitar repertoire.

"Mauro Giuliani Concerti per chitarra e orchestra" - Duo Maccari-Pugliese This is an important, highly-recommended "reference" recording of Giuliani's chamber orchestra works with guitar. It includes all 3 Giuliani concertos in their entirety: of course the famous "Concerto #1 (in A major) opus 30" which has been often-recorded by John Williams and others, as well as equally high-quality "Concerto 2 op. 36", and "Concerto 3 op. 70". Notably, the Concerto 3 was written for terz guitar, and finally, we have a performance recorded on the terz guitar as written. Also included are the "Gran Quintetto op. 65" and "Variations op 102" for terz guitar and chamber. Paolo and Claudio are soloists in different works, and both are virtuosic, skilled and talented interpreters. The early Italian period instruments and gut strings, with A430 tuning, provide an authentic early Italian flavor to the music. On the "Amadeus" label.

"Giuliani Complete Guitar Concertos" - Pepe Romero 2 CD's. Includes Giuliani's orchestral works: three concertos (op 30, 36, 70), and the "Gran Quintetto op. 65". One duo with Celedonio Romero is included: the Variazioni Concertanti, op. 130. In addition there are solo works: the rarely-heard Variations op. 49, the Gran Sonata Eroica (post-humous), the famous Handel variations op. 107, and La Melancolia from op. 148. This is an overall good recording on the modern classical guitar and modern orchestra with Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. The engineering is good as you would expect from a major label (Philips), but it is limited by its original analog mastering as a 1996 re-release of 1970's recordings. The playing is virtuosic and superbly interpreted. The instrumentation is not listed, and at times it sounds like a period guitar may have been in use, or perhaps Pepe was successfully able to imitate its sonority, as he owns and plays many romantic guitars in his collection. My only minor gripe on this fine recording, is that I wish Pepe would have used a Terz or Requinto guitar and played the terz guitar parts as written, rather than re-arranging and adapting for the modern instrument. But nonetheless, only a guitar historian would complain as the result is what counts.

D'Amore - "Obidos" A live recording of a Trio by Molino and arrangements of Beethoven, with all period instruments: guitar by Huel, Paris, c1820, with 18th century period wind and bowed instruments. The CD is nicely played by this trio from Portugal, and the live situation does not detract substantially from the sound quality, with a minimum of squeaks and coughs. The packaging is very basic, probably color ink jet, but the important thing is the music. The Molino sheet music, and ordering information for the CD, is available from Tecla Editions, which states: "CD of Francesco Molino's Trio for flute, viola and guitar, op. 4 no. 1, and Beethoven's Serenata op. 8 arranged by Matiegka. Played by Olavo Tengner Barros (flute), Jean-Loup Lecomte (viola d'amore), and Mário Carreira (guitar). Inexpensive and home-made, but a live performance and beautiful and unknown music." ..Sheet music link..

Duo Firenze - "Italian Nocturnes" - Early Romantic Music for Guitar and Fortepiano. Pamela and Robert Trent play authentic 19th century duets on period instruments. Covers Molino, Carulli, and Giuliani; several pieces are debut recordings that were previously unavailable. Both performers are virtuosos, and the playing is so "Vulcan Mind Meld" tight, so that it is often hard to tell which instrument is which. The opening piece is an opera arrangment that everyone will recognize.

Depetris (flute) and Polidori (guitar) - "Les grands Duos de la Musique Italienne" - Includes rare Gragnani and Legnani flute - guitar duets, as well as the famous Giuliani duo, and a Paganini violin duet played on flute. The sound quality is not the best I have ever heard, as it sounds like a live take, but it is not too bad. Played on modern instruments.

Divertimento Italiano - Reza Najfar (flute), Alexander Swete (guitar) - An entire CD, 56+ minutes, of Giuliani's flute and guitar works: Grand Serenata op. 82, Gran Duetto Concertante op. 52, 18 Divertimenti op. 86. Playing is very competent throughout. Giuliani's flute and guitar music is among the best of the era.

Leonhard Von Call - Quatuors Agustín Maruri (guitar), with violin, viola, and cello. Complete Guitar Quartets by Von Call. Clearly an important addition to the repertoire, of this under-represented Viennese composer who was a contemporary of Giuliani. Nicely played and recorded, with emphasis of course on the bowed instruments which overpower the guitar; a good example of early romantic / late classical Viennese chamber music with guitar.

The Charm of Spain Agustín Maruri (guitar), with Michael Jones (cello). This CD contains important early romantic guitar repertoire of Spain for cello and guitar. The guitar is a period ca. 1825 Lacote at the NY Met Museum. I had not heard of any of these composers, as they are all obscure and minor composers, but all of them deserve to be recorded. This is a welcome addition to the scarce early Spanish repertoire, and especially to the even more scarce cello and guitar material. The music sounds distinctively Spanish in character. As with most cello / violin with guitar recordings, the guitar is overpowered by the cello, especially the antique instrument.

Original Romantic Music for Violin and Guitar Agustín Maruri (guitar), with Claire Jolivet (violin). Covers 67 minutes of two important guitar and chamber music composers from the early romantic era in Vienna. Includes the Serenade op. 16 by Von Call, and Matiegka's Serenades op. 19 and 22. Instrumentation is a Omobono Stradivarius, 1730, and a modern classical guitar by Rozas. Both composers wrote for violin in an idiomatic, virtouso manner. Fine music.

Original Romantic Music for Cello and Guitar Agustín Maruri (guitar), with Michael Jones (cello). 73 minutes, nicely played, covering the Serenades op. 84 and 99 by Von Call, Matiegka's Potpourri Serenade op. 30, and the cello composer Dotzauer, Potpourri op. 21 with guitar accompanyment. Another welcome addition to the repertoire.

Original Music for Violin and Guitar - Virtuoso Pieces Agustín Maruri (guitar), Gilles Colliard (Violin). 70 minutes of fairly obscure, mostly Viennese early 19th century composers (all born between 1773-1804) for violin and guitar. I particularly enjoyed hearing Josef Mayseder; he was an important violinist and friend of Beethoven, and a frequent collaborator with Giuliani. The 4 remaining composers are outstanding examples of the genre, covers new ground in the modern discography. "Virtuoso Pieces" is an apt sub-title; the violin playing is brilliant. The guitar is finely played, but overpowered however.

Matiegka: Complete Flute and Violin Trios Agustín Maruri (guitar), Anke Dill (Violin), Sabine Dreier (Flute), Bruce Whitson (Viola). A 2-CD set containing the 5 opus' of chamber music by Matiegka. The compositions are finely crafted and played; a fine recording. Matiegka deserves much greater prominence and historical recognition.

Original Romantic Music for Flute and Guitar Agustín Maruri (guitar), Sabine Dreier (flute). 76 minutes; 4 complete flute and guitar opus' by Leonhard Von Call and a Polonaise by Rode (1774-1830). Finely played, with newly exposed repertoire.

Giuliani Guitar Concerto and Boccherini Sinfonia - Richard Savino A fine recording of Giuliani's famous concerto in A major, opus 30, performed on a period guitar with period (or period copy) instruments with the Baroque Orchestra, directed by Monica Huggett. The music is finely played, and the period instruments and style represents what this music must have sounded like in its day. The Boccherini is also perfectly crafted and enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Schubert and Giuliani Concertos - John Williams Without a doubt, this is the finest recording I have encountered in many years. It stands up well to repeated hearings, and I notice new things every time I listen to it. First is the "Arpeggione" sonata by Schubert: a lively, interesting and tuneful work written for the "Arpeggione" (Stauffer and others made them, it was tuned like a guitar but played with a bow and looked like a small cello), and transcribed for guitar. Next is the famous Concerto opus 30 by Giuliani - one of my favorite all time pieces probably orchestrated by Giuliani's friend the immenent Viennese composer Hummel - which John Williams chose to record again this time using the original manuscript from an Italian library: several motifs and extended variations are present which have been cut out from the commonly heard versions. Most notably, John Williams is playing a period guitar by Guadagnini which sounds fresh and delightful on the Giuliani. This is truly a ground-breaking event, now that a period guitar recording has been made by one of the top mainstream classical guitarists. John Williams plays musically with tense passion and excitement, fluid phrasing, tight orchestral effects and integration, and technical precision. The chamber orchestra is world-class, and the sound quality is exceptional given the large budget from Sony for John Williams CD's.

Vocal and Guitar reviews by John McCormick:

"When one contemplates the early romantic guitar in the context of its time, it would be a major oversight to ignore its role as vocal accompaniment, not as a minor adjunct to its emergence as a virtuoso instrument, but as an equally important function in much the same sense as the piano. During this period, when the guitar was flourishing as never before, the art of singing was also at its zenith, largely due to the extreme popularity of opera-------comic opera in particular. Alongside opera, the composed art song was beginning to emerge once again after having lain relatively dormant for nearly two centuries. Numerous composers of the time wrote songs and duets with guitar. Unfortunately, many or most of them are unknown today, and although there have been numerous recordings of songs with guitar; relatively few deal with music of this period.

Following is a small list of recordings with which I am familiar, along with some brief commentary about each. To my knowledge, these few may represent virtually all that are or have been available that focus on music of this period. Luckily, they collectively cover a considerable range of music and composers that would not otherwise be heard.

Romantic Songs for Tenor and Guitar – Ian Partridge, Tenor and Jakob Lindberg, Guitar. Although this Pearl recording, unfortunately, may no longer be in the catalogue, it is well worth tracking down. Partridge is one of the finest singers of our time and Lindberg is a well-recognized exponent of early music. On this recording, he plays an 1830 Panorme guitar. The contents of the recording includes Sechs Lieder, op. 89 by Giuliani, originally with guitar, as well as ones by Spohr and Schubert in guitar arrangements by contemporaries of these composers. A superb recording.

Fernando Carulli, The Complete Edited Songs for Voice and Guitar – Antonia Brown, Soprano and Adriano Sebastiani, Guitar. Despite some reservations on my part, this CD on the Italian “Dynamic” label, is a very enjoyable presentation of the lovely songs of Carulli. They are “complete” in the sense of being all of Carulli’s songs and Duets with opus numbers. In reality, he wrote far more. I take the word “edited” to refer to the embellishments executed by both singers and guitarist. The recording is overly resonant with digital ambiance, Ms. Brown, who has a wonderful voice, sings as though she were performing Verdi arias instead of intimate Carulli, and Sebastiani sounds bored by the whole thing. The duets work best. Ms Brown and mezzo Lucia Sciannimanico achieve a wonderful blend of voices. In spite of all this, I still recommend the recording.

Songs of the Classical Age – Patrice Michaels Bedi, Soprano and David Schrader, Fortepiano. Even though these are not songs with guitar, this fine performance represents an excellent introduction to several composers who also wrote numerous songs with guitar, none of whom, with the exception of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, are not exactly household names ------Vincenzo Righini, Johann Riechardt, Isabella Colbran, Nicola Dalatrac, Felice Blangini and Corona Schröter. Notice the several female composers, all from a time when a woman pursuing a musical career of this sort was only done with the permission of her husband or father. Lovely songs, very well researched and performed, along with a very informative set of program notes.

Las Mujeres y Cuerdas – Marta Almajano, Soprano and José Miguel Moreno, Guitar. A “must-have” recording of Italian songs by Martin y Soler and Mauro Guiliani, and Spanish and Italian songs by Fernando Sor. Moreno plays a replica of an instrument from 1800 and is a specialist in this sort of vocal accompaniment. Ms. Almajano is a ravishing singer. Together, they present this music in a way that makes this recording downright irresistible. In my opinion, the songs themselves are as fine as ever written by anyone, all originally with guitar accompaniments-----no transcriptions here. The label is Glossa.

Sweet Love Doth Now Invite – Marianne Hirsti, Soprano and Rolf Lislevand, Guitar. This is a surprising recording from Norway, beautifully recorded in an ancient church there without any digital manipulation whatsoever. It is not entirely made up of songs from the period under consideration. In addition to Seguidillas by Sor and Lieder by Schubert, there are songs by Dowland and Monteverdi as well. On each, Mr. Lislevand plays the appropriate instrument, be it Lute, Theorboe or Romantic Guitar, and he plays each to a turn. Ms. Hirsti has a clear, light, high soprano voice she uses to bring to each song impeccable style and artistry. She also seems to be a genius with languages. Whether English, Spanish, or German, she uses each with great authenticity. I wouldn’t be without this one. The Norwegian label is Victoria.

Chantons L’Amore, Eighteenth-Century French Arias – Rachel Fetler, Soprano and James Edwards, Guitar. This recording delves into the French voice-guitar repertory, and it is another well-researched effort that includes several unfamiliar names. While Ms Fetler does not possess the most appealing of voices, she sings fairly well and is obviously very much at home with this music and the French language. Although he plays a modern instrument, Mr. Edwards’ accompaniments are superb. He is a very accomplished player who is in touch with the art of accompaniment, strangely, something of a rarity among guitarists. The recording is only available through Ms. Fetler’s web-site of the same name as the recording."

----John McCormick

Artists Specializing in Early Romantic Guitar

Arte en Parte
Arte en Parte
- A duet on Panormo copies by Kresse, specializing in music of the period. They have recorded a CD with Sor music for two guitars, using two Panormo guitars for the recording, on the Italian label Nuova Era.

David Jacques
David Jacques
David has an extensive set of credentials, multiple recordings, and is a top expert in romantic and classical guitar. David has many excellent videos of him performing on historical instruments. His interpretation is melodic and historically informed, and beautifully played. He has a depth of repertoire and knowledge. It is amazing to hear these guitars and their unique voices, so perfectly paired to the music, like a fine wine and a great meal. David is also listed on the Dealers page for restoration and sale of historical instruments.

James Buckland
James Buckland
Doctorate thesis in Terz guitar. Buckland has compiled the most comprehensive list of Terz guitar repertoire to date, and has researched instrumentation, compositions, and style. Buckland is also a luthier who features his own instruments on his recording. Currently a professor of guitar, recording artist, performer.

Dennis Cinelli
Dennis Cinelli
Dennis is featured on 2 recordings listed here, and was an expert in early music and 19th century early romantic guitar. Dennis was very knowledgeable of guitar history and identification. As a consultant for La Bella strings, he spent 4 years developing the "String Catalogue for Early Instruments" with strings for practically every form of lute, archlute, vihuela, theorbo, renaissance and baroque guitars, and the "Early Romantic Guitar" series of strings of which Dennis was the inventor. Dennis was a true gentleman, musician and a scholar who provided me with much information and expertise for the Early Romantic Guitar web site when I first created it. Sadly, Dennis passed away in December 2012; he is missed by many.

Duo Ghiribizzo
(large photo)

Dodici Corde
The Dodici Corde Early Romantic Guitar Duo is based in the UK and was formed in 2008 with Danielle Saxon Reeves and Mark Willetts. This duo is specialized in historically informed performances of Early Romantic guitar duo repertoire on period instruments (Panormo, an unlabeled French Guitar c. 1840 and a Terz guitar by Lamy). Their website had photos and soundfiles, as well as an available CD of works by Scheidler, Coste and Diabelli. The CD can be ordered through the artist web site and is well worth getting as the duets are pieces which are not often or ever recorded, and are played brilliantly. Often appearing in 19th century period clothing as well, this duo is entertaining to watch. (Photo courtesy of www.PTGraphics.co.uk, used by permission).

Duo Ghiribizzo
Duo Ghiribizzo
- Specialized in 19th century guitar repertoire, and period instruments, musically this duo consistently ranks as one of my personal favorites. Tonally, the sound is full and rich, the playing is tight, and the interpretation is spot on.

Duo Historico
Duo Historico
- Duo of Lars Hedelius-Strikkertsen and Ruben Ipsen, playing 19th century guitar, in 19th century clothing, music stands, and stools. Very good, and professionally-produced You Tube Video.

Duo Suonante - Duo of Lars Hedelius-Strikkertsen from Duo Historico (guitar) and Katrine Roos (soprano), a Danish duo performering 19th-century music for voice and guitar, primarily in Denmark. With thorough research, Duo Suonante is able to perform as authentic as possible. Katrine's singing is light and delicate with less vibrato and clear speech as in the 19th century, and a voice suitable with the guitar.

Lex Eisenhardt
Lex Eisenhardt
Lex Eisenhardt is a European experts on early guitars, like the Vihuela, the Baroque- and Romantic guitars. He currently teaches both classical guitar and historical plucked instruments at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Lex Eisenhardt has also made recordings of music by Fernando Sor on an original period instrument.

Izhar Elias
Izhar Elias
With degrees in music and a career in music, Elias has specialized in authentic interpretation of 19th century repertoire, including study with guitarist and conductor Carlo Barone at the Accademia l'Ottocento (www.accademia800.org). Elias also studied with the violinist Kees Hendrikse, who played for many years in the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and worked with many great solists and conductors. As an approach to the interpretation, Elias studied many guitar methods from the early 19th century like Sor, Aguado, Carulli, Molino, Giuliani, Carcassi, etc., but he is also especially interested in non-guitarist methods, in order to find and recreate the general musical language of that time. Important early sources were Quantz, C.P.E. Bach and Leopold Mozart, and later methods like Türk. Elias realised that the Italian opera had a very big influence on the instrumental music all around Europe, especially on guitar music, which is something in his opinion is very much underestimated today. In order to sing and to pronounce / articulate words on the guitar, Elias studied phrasing in singing methods like Garcia and Delle Sedie. In these methods and other methods (including guitar methods), Elias found also many examples of how to play slurs, embellishments and cadenzas. Elias studied ochestral scores and opera scores (arias), trying to create an orchestra and a singer on the guitar. For the more romantic music (by Mertz) Elias finds the information about the music of Chopin and Schubert very useful. In order to make decisions about interpretation, Elias finds it important to know also about other composers and their musical style and life. Elias also states that at the end, with all this research, the most important thing is to feel the music. (Text based on Correspondence with Elias).

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Douglas James
Douglas James
Douglas James is a professor of the guitar and an expert in the 19th century style, particularly the early Italian style.

Nicola Jappelli
Nicola Jappelli
Nicola is a specialist in 19th century guitars and performance practice, with several fine CD recordings available. Nicola can also be found in several You Tube videos playing a magnificent original Fabricatore guitar as well as in voice and guitar duo. Nicola is also a composer of modern works with a fine CD available recorded by Andrea Dieci.

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Maccari-Pugliese Duo
Maccari-Pugliese Duo
An Italian duo specializing in period guitars and repertoire. The duo uses original antique guitars with gut strings, A430 tuning, and historically-informed performance practice - working in duo and also with chamber orchestra. They feature mostly early Italian Guadagnini guitars, which sound radically different from the modern guitar: I describe it as inbetween the lute (airy) and mandolin (bright and short) in sound, but also with harp-like qualities.

Agustín Maruri with Lacote guitar, 1840
Agustín Maruri
Agustín Maruri has an extensive discography covering important yet less well-known 19th century guitar repertoire. Maruri has several CD's of solo guitar, and guitar with violin, cello, viola and flute. The recordings of Von Call, Matiegka, and other minor composers of the era are ground-breaking and welcome additions to expand the available recorded music. Maruri has several recordings on period instruments, including a Lacote circa 1825 and Fuentes circa 1858. Original manuscripts were utilized, and the CD biographical notes are well-researched. Click for Discography. EMEC is a Spanish label which carries the Maruri catalog and other works.

Leopoldo Saracino
Leopoldo Saracino
Leopoldo Saracino has pursued a varied career as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. He studied with Ruggero Chiesa in Milan and had subsequent studies with David Russell, Oscar Ghiglia, Leo Brouwer, and David Tanenbaum. His particular interest is the original music of the 19th century played on an original instrument of Louis Panormo. He regularly tours Europe with concert programs including works by Rossini, Paganini, Giuliani among others. His love for chamber music brought forth recordings of chamber repertoire in the classic style, including the first modern recording of the complete works of Ferdinando Carulli for guitar and Fortepiano in 8 CD's with original period instruments, and chamber works by Filippo Gragnani and Anton Diabelli. As a solo player he recorded the 36 Capricci for solo guitar by Luigi Legnani.

Richard Savino
Richard Savino
Extensive discography, performing and teaching career. Noted authority on early music and romantic guitar.

Raphaella Smits
Raphaella Smits
Raphaella Smits is best known as an 8-string classical guitarist, having won a number of competitions world-wide. She has two CD's of 100% early romantic guitar, listed above.

David Starobin
David Starobin
Starobin splits his artistry between 19th century guitar played on a period replica by Southwell, and modern compositions. Starobin is a maestro virtuoso.

Pavel Steidl
Pavel Steidl
Pavel Steidl has made several recordings of 19th century music which have set a new standard of excellence; indeed they are among the best I have ever heard. Several professional guitarists, some well known, have come away from Pavel's concerts saying that it was the best concert they've seen and it affected their musical interpretation profoundly.

Erik Stenstadvold
Noted authority in 19th-century guitar music, its history and performance practice. His research has lead to the rediscovery of previously neglected guitar music, such as the de Fossa/Haydn "Quartets", and the music by Antoine de Lhoyer.

Robert S. Trent
Robert S. Trent
Specialist in 19th century guitar, through a dissertation on the subject at The Peabody Conservatory, a contract and release with Dorian records (next release will be solo 19th-century works for the 10-string Viennese guitar), contributions to Mel Bay's collection of 19th Century Sonatas ed. by Anthony Glise and performances both here and abroad. He is currently Director of Guitar and Lute Studies at Radford Univeristy in Radford, VA.

Pascal Valois
Pascal Valois
Pascal Valois recorded a world premiere of solo works by Victor Magnien (1804-1885); his work on Magnien began as a student of Hopkinson Smith, where he is an alumni of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He has distinguished himself by combining virtuosity with informed performance practice. He has recently played in Basel, Paris, San Francisco, New York, Ottawa and Toronto. He has also given masterclasses in many institutions, including the Manhattan School of music, the San Francisco Conservatory and the Montreal Conservatory.

Brigitte Zaczek
Brigitte Zaczek
A native of Vienna, BZ performed in master classes with Andrés Segovia and Alirio Diaz in Spain, Italy and Venezuela as part of a comprehensive musical education. Her main interest has been the repertoire and playing techniques of historical plucked instruments. After an intensive study of the lute music of the 17th and 18th centuries (especially the Baroque lute and archlute), she has mainly worked on the guitar repertory of the 19th century during the last few years - with its stylistic questions and the technical problems of playing original instruments of the first half of the 19th century. The original instruments in her collection are from Vienna, Naples, Paris and London and were built by masters such as J.G. & J.A.Staufer, N. G. Riess, G. B. Fabricatore, F. & C. Rhoudloff, R. Lacote, L. Panormo and others. BZ has released 2 superb CD's on period guitars mentioned in the reviews above.

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If you have a CD for sale that you want listed here, it must be 100% early romantic guitar, solo or with ensemble. A couple of Sor pieces on the CD mixed with other material from different time periods does not count. I request a free copy of the CD to evaluate before listing, which is mine to keep. The decision to list is entirely the editor's.