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David Starobin : W.T.Matiegka Six Sonatas Op31. CD

David Starobin

Bridge Records: Bridge 9567

David Starobin is of course a well – known guitarist who has graced the concert stage and recordings for a long time. Having recently retired from the concert stage, he has issued this final studio recording of some fascinating guitar sonatas that are not as well – known as they should be. Wenzeslaus Thomas Matiegka was born in Czechoslovakia, but at the age of 27 moved to Vienna where there was a huge amount of guitar activity around this time, and where he crossed paths with Schubert to name but one composer there.

Matiegka actually wrote many guitar sonatas, twelve of which still survive, and can all be found in Stanley Yate’s wonderful book published in 2017 by Classical Guitar Study Editions. (It is firmly believed that he wrote more than these 12) His last (surviving) set of Sonatas was in fact the ones that are on this recording Six Sonates Progressives Op31, published first in 1811.They are still very much in the classical style of Sonata, namely all have three movements but with a little touch here and there of an early Romantic feel. The key structure of the six is interesting because they are C Major, A minor, G Major, E Minor, D Major and B Minor which instantly makes me wonder whether a further set carrying the sequence of keys further might have been in the offering , or least left open to be considered!

David Starobin plays all the set on a Viennese guitar and as one might expect the performances are nothing less than exemplary. The entire playing time of all six sonatas is just over 74 minutes, with each one lasting between 11 and almost 14 minutes, and so they are substantial offerings and they range from the very Haydn-esque No1 in C Major, with its Minuetto/Trio middle movement sandwiched by the opening Allegro Moderato and the final Rondo, to the closing No6 in B minor, which is more developed and harmonically more complicated and definitely a step forward from the previous. Its Allegro non Molto first movement is followed this time by an Allegro Molto Scherzo in D Major, with an Allegretto Finale a very serious and dynamic piece full of energy and a fitting end to a wonderful set of pieces, beautifully recorded and effortlessly played by David Starobin.

Both this CD and the book of the complete Sonatas, I mentioned above are real finds and definitely things you should consider adding to your collections.

Chris Dumigan

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