Collection: Sequenza

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Berio,Mendelssohn,Paganini,Scarlatti
LABELS: MusicMasters
WORKS: Works by Scarlatti, Berio, Paganini, Mendelssohn
PERFORMER: Eliot Fisk (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: 1612-67150-2 DDD

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Both these compilations come from artists of the front rank, but the repertoire on offer is rather different. Bream plays three sonatas, substantial pieces rather than the shorter items more usually associated with music for the guitar. His own edition of Paganini’s Grand Sonata subsumes the violin part of what was originally a duo within the solo texture. It is an astonishing feat, even if the first movement does seem over-long. In the sonatas by José and Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Bream maintains a remarkable concentration.

José’s Sonata is a real discovery; completed shortly before his death in the Spanish Civil War, it has only gained a wide currency since its recent publication. The title of Eliot Fisk’s disc is taken from the most substantial piece it contains, Sequenza XI by Luciano Berio. This was written for Fisk in 1988, and the guitarist’s commitment is felt both in his introductory note and his virtuoso performance.

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The music has extraordinary range and technical insight; but like the companion compilation The Best of Eliot Fisk (MusicMasters 1612-67151-2, J831), the disc is largely a collection of arrangements. While the programmes are imaginative, the music itself does not always seem idiomatic, and the recording is a little harsh and close. Terry Barfoot