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John W. Duarte : Sonatina Di Primavera Op27a for 4 guitars : Doberman – Yppan



John W Duarte

Doberman – Yppan : Score and separate parts : 24, 8, 8, 8, and 7 pages respectively

The guitarist/composer John W.Duarte was certainly one of the most well – known of English guitar composers and also one whose music is widely diverse, and always interesting and usually utterly different from anyone else’s style of writing, and it is still an amazing fact that after so many years there are still pieces to publish that no one has seen before.

This piece began life as a solo Sonatina Op27, but as explained in the Preface, which came from the liner notes when The Quartetto Chitarristico Italiano made this piece’s first recording back in 2001, he thought that the solo version was too difficult, and so he decided to re-write it for four guitars.

It is set in three movements and takes around nine minutes of your time to play it. The first thing that immediately catches your attention here is how fluid the part – writing is, for absolutely everyone is given the melody several times in each movement, and similarly all the four players get the harmonies, the bass line etc, and there are many timers when a long phrase is literally tossed around backwards and forward between the players, so that the quartet have to be very adept and exceedingly good players to keep in with the piece’s constant changes. The opening movement is an Allegretto Molto Lirico ma Facile and is set at quite a speed of 69 dotted minims a minute, and the piece is in 3/4 and officially in A Major. I say, officially, because as with a lot of this composer’s pieces you find yourself many times in unusual harmonic territory in the sense that you often find yourself in a musical area where you have no idea where it is going to go next, until the composer suddenly shows you his very original way of getting from one melody and harmony to another. The tempo moves around somewhat too and there is a middle section set in C#m before the opening ideas re- enter for a final time leading to a loud and very definite final coda .

The Expressivo second movement has a very lovely theme and here the tempo is a crotchet 69 beats a minute. The piece is in Gm and again is in 3 / 4.As with the first movement parts move around all the time and usually the word ‘solo’ appears in the part that is actually playing the theme, just so the players can keep an eye on where they are. This is by far the longest movement in the work, and a great piece of writing. Again there are several tempo changes and key changes along the way.

The final movement is a 100 crotchets a minute Vivo, but with many a section written in semi – quavers, which gives you an idea how ‘vivo’ it is actually meant to be. It is set in E Major, but with other sections in C# Major, and A Major and really needs careful attention to get all the constantly flowing parts to make sense .A final coda gives the piece a really definite ‘slam- bang ‘finish, and as a piece the three movements are very successful indeed, and would keep any audience completely happy! This is definitely a quartet to get if your players are up to the technical challenge, because, as always with John W. Duarte, the piece is great from start to finish.

Chris Dumigan


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