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  • chrisdumigan

Elise Neumann : Bach and Castelnuovo – Tedesco Guitar Music : CD

BACH: Suite in Cm BWV 997: CASTELNUOVO TEDESCO: Escarraman Op177: Capriccio diabolico, Op. 85a "Homage to Paganini"

Elise Neumann

Carpe Diem: CD 16315

This is Elise Neumann’s second album, and here she takes on two giants of music, beginning with the so – called Lute Suite No2, BWV in Cm, set in four movements .Of course there are many recordings in a number of forms and a number of different keys both on Lute and Guitar, but her version is immediately interesting in that she is doing it in the original C minor key, which I think is almost unique in the recordings available for this piece.

Whatever key you pick for this piece however she has a lovely tone, close but not too much so, with a warm beautiful sound emanating from her playing, and the four movements of the Bach seem effortless, with all the various part – writing coming out very naturally and beautifully. This has to be one of the best performances I have ever come across.

The rest of the CD is made up with the famous writer Mario Castelnuovo – Tedesco, who wrote many works for guitar , yet, as with many of Segovia’s writer – friends, couldn’t play our instrument at all.

The two works Elise picks are firstly the six – movement Escarraman Op177, a work not too often recorded, and so this version is very welcome. Sub –titled Suite of Spanish Dance from the sixteenth century (after Cervantes) , the suite begins with Gallarda, which is of course a sixteenth century dance , but our composer always put the music into the 20th Century , never trying merely to copy 16th Century styles. The piece is immediate and a lovely opener and our guitarist makes this tricky piece (I have had the sheet music for decades, so I KNOW how hard this set is!) sound effortless and fun. The second El Canario is one of those melodies that once heard, you never forget, and is a movement that never stops moving once it begins, but is a wonderful piece if it is new to you. El Villano is deliberately awkward and comic in a gentle way, and Elise of course makes a fine job of the characterization throughout. Pesame Dello (I Am Sorry) is the fourth movement and , as you might expect, is generally sad and often in the lower registers of the guitar , and quite a contrast to the previous movements, but another lovely piece nonetheless. El Rey Don Alonso el Bueno is of course very regal, and full of , what one might call, correctness throughout, as befits a piece about a king. The final La Guarda Cuydadosa is a rollicking finale to what is a wonderful set of pieces that is up there amongst the best that he wrote, and yet is not as often heard as it should be.

The recording finishes with another fabulous work of Castelnuovo – Tedesco’s the Capriccio Diabolico Op85a, Homage to Paganini which is one of his most virtuosic works, paying true respect in every way to the almost unbelievable technique of Paganini on the violin, by composing a work that really does task the guitarist to the utmost degree. It is lots of fun, very exciting, and Elise performs it beautifully, and makes a great finale for what is a most entertaining recital, and one which any lovers of these two composers, should have no qualms about looking out for!

Chris Dumigan

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