Guitar music by women Composers

In Brief

  • Title: Guitar Music by Women Composers
  • Musician: Annette Kruisbrink, guitar.
  • Identification: Les Productions d’ Oz DZ1335.
  • Recording: 2009.
  • Publication: 2009.

Daybreak by Gisele Sekora


This year I came across an interesting combination of sheet music and CD, Guitar Music by Women Composers, collected, fingered and commented by the Dutch guitarist / composer Annette Kruisbrink. She uses the score/cd combination for some of her own work. I have a number of books by her along with nicely recorded CDs of the pieces. A nice example for playing myself and fun to listen to.

The subject of the collection is music by female composers with the precondition that it must be Public Domain work. This resulted in a nice collection of practically unknown yet very pleasant music.

The collection covers the period from Baroque to contemporary with an emphasis on Romantic nineteenth century and early twentieth century music. A nice thing about this collection is that I can not only say something about the recordings, but also about my own experiences with the pieces as an amateur guitarist, just playing them.

The collection starts with a Baroque suite by Mademoiselle Bocquet, Prelude, Allemande, Sarabande and Gigue. A beautiful, sonorous and clear performance in which the structure of the pieces becomes clear because of the suitably chosen tempo (that is: not a race track!). The suite movements belong to the more difficult pieces in the book, which is partly caused by the characteristic Baroque ornamentation.

Prelude No. 1 by Emilia Giuliani, daughter of Mauro Giuliani, takes us to the classical period. An étude-like piece with subtle twists, played with beautiful phrasing. Not overly difficult to play, with the challenge of not making it sound like a sewing machine. Do mind the phrasing when playing it yourself.

Two pieces by Dolores Nevares de Goni aka Madame Knoop, La Jota Aragonesa and L’ Alhambra, bring a sample of early Romantic Spanish atmosphere. Tune to D and practice well on the rhythms is key. The recording provides an excellent example.

I had already met Madame Sidney Pratten via my research in the Boije Collection. This book contains the pieces Forgotten and Sadness, pure Romanticism in a more melancholic mood. I played both pieces, Sadness is a bit more difficult than Forgotten, the biggest challenge being a consistent atmosphere and the necessary tension. With her recording, Kruisbrink clearly shows how you can make this music exciting by breathing its phrases.

Melodia del Sannio was composed by the Italian Maria Rita Brondi. It is a theme with some slight variations. The tuning of the piece is unusual, the first string down to D and the fifth string down to G. Indeed, it gives the piece its own particular sound.

Flor de Amancay is a characteristic lilting piece by the Argentinian guitarist / composer Josefina de Morisoli. A romantic intro leads to a Zamba. The book also contains an accompaniment for this piece, it enables the accompanist to create a characteristic atmosphere with “fist strokes”. Changing to D gives the warm sound, technically it is not too difficult once you figured out how to perform the ornamentation notes.

Reminescenze is a remarkable piece by the Italian Lisanella Gentili, completely unknown to me. A very atmospheric piece indeed, certainly with a few technical nasties, for example holding the fourth finger on the fifth fret on the fourth string while you have to grab a C and A on the first position with fingers 1 and 2. I have yet to figure out how to do that smoothly. Annette Kruisbrink plays it with a clear approach and a beautifully singing melody line.

To recover from the strain, two easy but very nice pieces by Carmen Farré de Prat are following: the waltz Biliken and the slow song Pinina. Biliken enables a firm but not overly fast tempo, Pinina is a traditional form of an Intro (indicating the chords) and a Cantado, the actual song. Keep the glissando to the high E clear.

Maria Luisa Anido was a guitar virtuoso who travelled around the world in the middle of the last century and also composed herself. In the lullaby Nana she creates a beautiful melancholic melody, which Annette Kruisbrink performs accordingly. This piece also has an unusual tuning: The sixth string down to D and the fifth down to G.

Daybreak by the Belgian guitarist Gisèle Sikora touches a sensitive string with me, there is something unspeakably moving in this piece. A serene opening part turns into a melancholic swing with a few jazzy chords. As a player, I tend to repeat the last section to make the piece a little longer.

Last but not least, a very short piece of the compiler of the collection itself, Z (o) oZ, a piece of contemporary music that seems to apply some numerology: She wrote it on 02/20/2002 and it takes exactly 20 two-tenths of seconds. You will find that symmetry in the title.

The CD with performances of the pieces is a valuable addition to the book. Some will say that you should not give examples of music with sheet music because you have to build your own interpretation. Well, that’s why YouTube is so popular! I think, a good example can never hurt.

Well, I also really like to play this CD separately. Annette Kruisbrink brings the pieces with a beautiful finish and clearly breathes in the music. She plays it with a tranquility that is exemplary for me (I still tend to hurry at some places).

The recording is clear and does not suffer from blurring due to too large space or enthusiastic reverb mixing. It provides the music with an intimate character.

The book itself contains an illustrated introduction with information about the pieces and the composers. I personally appreciate that very much, the entire DOS Amigos Homepage is built on that idea. It’s nice to have a historical background to what you play.

In summary, I think this book with the CD is a must. It brings you interesting repertoire with a varying technical challenge, but all pieces are worth playing.

😉 Which I am trying myself while writing this piece.

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