Sheet Music Releases by Giacomo Susani, Edvard Grieg, and Nicola Matteis
We get so much sheet music sent to us by various publishers year ’round—literally hundreds of pieces in every setting imaginable (solo guitar, multiple guitars, guitar-flute, guitar-harp, etc.)—but we don’t have the space to write about the great majority of them in our four quarterly issues each year. So, just as we write fairly regularly about classical-guitar album releases in this online space, we also occasionally announce recent print music releases. As with the CDs, these are not reviews per se (some will be reviewed in the magazine, but frankly most will not), but we think it’s important to at least get the word out about what’s being offered to guitarists out there. Where possible, we’ve linked the titles to the publisher’s website or some other outlet where it can be purchased (often, digital versions are now available, too), but you may have your own regional outlets where you can buy sheet music, so we’d encourage you to look there. —Blair Jackson
This is really special! Giacomo Susani is an Italian guitarist who has most recently been studying in England at the Royal Academy of Music, courtesy of a Julian Bream Trust Scholarship. Not only is he an outstanding guitarist (whose albums and competition triumphs have been catalogued in the pages of CG), he is also a solid composer, as his wonderful Quintet demonstrates. The nearly 13-minute piece is divided into three movements: “La Tempesta,” which carries a guitar marking of “Molto mosso, ritmico”; “II,” which moves from “Andante Largo” to “Poco più lento” to “Moderato ritmico” to “Largamente”; and finally “Omaggio a Castelnuovo-Tedesco” (“Alegretto ritmico” and “Moderato”). I find it an extremely appealing and accessible work, full of vitality, passion, and melodic interest; and it’s clearly a wonderful showcase for both guitarist and quartet. But judge for yourself. It’s easy for me to to imagine this becoming a real chamber favorite! (It would have been nice if the edition contained at least some information about the piece from the composer; but it is strictly music!)
The combination of soprano-and-guitar seems to be all the rage these days, and why not?—it sounds like a natural match; a soaring, at times unearthly voice, cushioned by the clear, clean support of plucked strings. The Lyric Pieces of theprolific Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) have already proven an irresistible challenge for arrangers (such as CG scribe Chris Dumigan, who has fashioned guitar duo versions of the Grieg piano Pieces for Les Productions D’Oz), so it’s not surprising that other guitarists are also exploring his vast catalog of works in interesting ways. In this booklet, American guitarist William Slate has arranged three of Grieg’s most famous songs—Jeg Elsker Dig (text by Hans Christian Andersen), Solveig’s Song (from Peer Gynt, text by Henrik Ibsin), and Våren (text by A.O. Vinje); originally Slate conceived the project as a way to be able to accompany his daughter Anna, a soprano. The lyrics are provided in the original languages (Norwegian or Danish), and also in English. The publisher notes: “Most often accompanied by a piano or occasionally a string orchestra, they sound wonderfully ‘natural’ and convincing with a guitar, as well, blending that instrument’s warmth and intimacy with the composer’s timeless melodies.”
Alas, I couldn’t find an audio or video example of a guitar-and-soprano arrangement of any of these pieces, but below is a guitar-only version of Solveig’s Song (not Slate’s arrangement) and also piano-and-voice version; between the two I trust you’ll at least have some sense of what these pieces are like.
Some of you may recognize the name of the arranger of this attractive set of theme-and-variations on a work by the Italian Baroque composer Nicola Matteis (c. 1650–1700)—Blue Yates wrote one of the pieces we published in Classical Guitar’s “Music to Play” column; Prelude No. 4, which appeared in the Fall 2017 issue. Here, he has taken a piece originally written for violin and transcribed it for two guitars, a process that Yates says was quite challenging: “the legato phrasing of the original semiquavers [16th notes], for example, proves quite difficult to transfer to classical guitar. the two instruments’ idiomatic elements actually provide interesting changes to the transcription, offering a melodic and texturally interesting contrast to the original.” The attractive piece consists of a one-page theme, and then five variations, totaling under seven minutes. You can hear it here.