The Andante by Ferdinando Carulli (1770 – 1841) was once my first “longer” guitar pieces. I found it in Frederic Noad’s The Classical Guitar. SO, I have “known”Carulli for a long time.
Despite his popularity in his lifetime, Carulli has no particular spectacular reputation in the repertoire of the classical guitar like Sor, Giuliani and Aguado. His pieces often appear in collections of beginner’s repertoire such as the Carulli Brevier by Kreidler, published by the Schott publishing house.
As a result, part of his music suffers from a kind of sonatina syndrome, well-known with more advanced pianists. Sonatinas were often beginners’ pieces from the first piano lessons. Many pianists may remember Sonatinas as relatively easy pieces that nevertheless required a lot of effort to master and were less musically rewarding than the larger works.
Many people will recall the music school’s public performance evenings. I played them myself and was also present as a listener. I still remember the brave attempts of the participants to present something on stage despite their nerves. Well, on those performance evenings in the past, Carulli was a much-played composer with his Sonatina-like pieces.
Initially, I underestimated his music as well when I wanted to make recordings of it to practice for the heavier recording work. Then you notice the challenge: How do you play music that is perceived by everyone as a constantly rattling sewing machine in a way that pleases and amuses an audience?
Thus, I came across aspects that had been forgotten, such as accurate rest playing, phrasing and variation in sound. A few guitar lessons on those pieces showed unexpected performance possibilities. I am honest, I have not yet been able to process everything in the recordings, because the microphone nerves also played a role. Yet a nice set has been rolled out. Most of the pieces come from Carulli’s École de Guitare Op. 241.
As mentioned, above Andante was my first longer piece, consisting of the well-known theme as corner parts and an often-forgotten middle part.
I first encountered Alla Polacca in the book Stunde der Gitarre Part 2. It was nice to refresh it completely after all these years. Keeping pace turned out to be not so easy.
Andante Grazioso ripples on nice and quiet, two corner sections flank a middle part with a slightly different mood. Here it turns out that playing softly is very difficult when you play so close to the microphone. The volume differences are hardly audible.
Polonaise is a remarkable piece. With us, a Polonaise is humpa and all together now, in this piece there is something left of the rhythm of a Polish folk dance. The relationship of the arpeggio middle section with the themes is a bit unclear to me. A bit of virtuosity show-off, I guess.
Rondo in A is one of many examples of a Rondo, a regularly repeated chorus with elaborations in between. I play the minor part a bit slower.
Rondo in C is one of many examples of a Rondo, a regularly repeated chorus with elaborations in between. In this piece, the Alberti bass is striking, giving you a Mozart feel.
Scherzo is a two-part Prelude with Rondo traits. Separating the voices well was the challenge during playing.
Siciliano, originally a Sicilian dance in 6/8 time, brings some peace to the end of this series of pieces.