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Marcello Fantoni : Luigi Moretti Works for Solo Guitar : CD

MORETTI: Overture for solo guitar; Variazioni per la chitarra ; Guitar Variations on Les folies d'Espagne, Op. 7 ; Grand Sonata for Solo Guitar, Op. 2 ; Corrente for Solo Guitar ;Grand Polonaise ; Theme & Variations for Guitar ; Variazioni sul tema di un valz originale Tirolese, Op. 8; Capriccio (Attrib. to L. Moretti).

Marcello Fantoni

Dynamic: CDS7828

Luigi Moretti was a music teacher and a composer for the guitar, although he did write for other instruments and voices too. He was active in the first quarter of the 19th century and this CD is apparently a first recording of this material as his name was, I must be honest, completely unknown to me and it does seem that until now his works have been forgotten.

The opening Overture for solo guitar sets the tone absolutely with a brief Largo then turning to an Allegro where everything is extremely fast , full of lots of short notes and runs of such a difficult nature that you immediately realise that Marcello Fantoni is a wonderful player .The connection with the likes of Giuliani and other such composers for the guitar is immediately obvious here as the piece relies on its speed and very flashy sounds for its effect. It is obvious that Moretti must have been a wonderful player .The first of four sets of variations, the Variazioni per la chitarra is in quite a number of sections, all quite short, as the slow and fast variations interweave into one continuous piece with a pleasant theme that is self – composed. Again it is the variety of the writing and the , at times, extremes of difficulty that make this a more than interesting listen, even if there is actually nothing very original or different about the actual harmonies and themes.

The next piece is a set of variations on that famous theme Les Folies D’Espagne, although to be fair the theme itself seems already to be a variation as it bears little resemblance to the theme as I have heard it before in other works. Yes, the harmonies might be similar but the melody itself is quite different. The theme is followed by 6 variations that are beautifully played, but are pleasant if unremarkable as music.

The Grand Sonata Op2 is only in 2 movements, an opening Andante Grazioso, followed by an Allegro Moderato

Both of which did nothing to change my mind about the vacuous nature of much of the actual writing; pleasant but nothing different , and certainly not of the quality of Fernando Sor, for example. The following Corrente is, surprisingly in 5 movements, so don’t think of the Baroque dance such as the Courante, as it is something else entirely. It is still relatively short at a little under 7 minutes, so the individual sections are brief, with two slow sections in between three faster ones.

The Grand Polonaise is friendly and bounces around as an Polonaise should again showing just how many notes the composer could fit into one bar in several places.

The Theme and Variations has a quirky theme with a melody full of grace notes and a staccato melody. The seven variations and extended coda that follow are again full of life and mostly fast that tend to stick around common harmonies without venturing too far into anything new or original. The final theme and variations on an original Tyrolean Vals also doesn’t have anything too different to say, and by now the lack of variety in the basic music was beginning to wear on me. The final piece attributed to Moretti did nothing to change my mind

I’m sorry to be so negative, but my criticism is aimed at the composer and his unremarkable music , not the wonderful playing of the guitarist, who was a fabulous player ( and he would have to be , when playing such difficult and constantly fast music full of short notes in long runs).So all I can say is , if you like your 19th century music to be flashy, full of fireworks and the playing to be fabulous throughout, then you might enjoy this well – recorded CD much more than I did.

Chris Dumigan

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