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Stephen Goss : Verismo : Doberman – Yppan



Stephen Goss

Doberman – Yppan: 18 pages


Stephen Goss has written many a fine work over the years but this new piece is a little different in actual musical invention, because dedicated to the Italian guitarist Aniello Desiderio, the piece, by request of the dedicatee, became a tribute to the Italian Operatic tradition that is Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, and Mascagni, and therefore became a kind of Fantasia on seven operatic pieces, nearly all of which the greater majority of you will recognize, and plays for 14 minutes in total.

Set with a 6th string to D, the opening, set onto two staves for clarity’s sake, is The Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, and begins very freely as a Lento Espressivo that then becomes an Andante calmo (though set at the same speed as the opening) for the other theme .This one is accompanied by semi – quaver arpeggios , underneath the melody helped by a few chords along the way. Everything is harmonised the way you might expect and is true to the Puccini as you would know it. This then slows down and turns into a tremolo version of Cavalleria Rusticana, the Intermezzo, by Mascagni. This also fits remarkably well in its new guise and towards the end the tremolo stops to bring in a coda where the imaginative use of strings in arpeggios played l.v. sempre, together with the use of natural harmonics blended in to them really creates a lovely effect. Then Puccini’s Quando Me’n vo from La Boheme enters as a waltz that flies around the guitar in a most effective way. Again the campanella effects found here work really well. Then another waltz rhythm intervenes, consisting of Brindisi, La Traviata from Verdi, and Valser , Il Tabarro, from Puccini, the opening melody a very well – known one and fitting exceedingly well on the guitar. Then, as the piece does in the opera, there is a momentary pause and the melody re- enters, but this time Stephen Goss creates a little humour, as now the melody is set in such a way that the melody line is harmonised by a lower octave, one semi – tone higher than the top tune, creating a great moment where everything sounds ‘wrong’. This continues for a while until the second tune enters Meno Mosso. This is only a short interval until the opening melody returns now set in flying semi – quavers in a section that will task many players, not that it does in the complete YouTube video as performed by the dedicatee, for he shows everyone, firstly what a lovely piece this is, and secondly just how fantastic a player he is! Then we get one of the world’s most famous opera melodies, Che Gelida Manini from Puccini’s La Boheme. It begins very atmospherically with some lovely and imaginative use of harmonics set around chords. This then turns into an arpeggio section where the harmonies move around, going in both directions making for a lovely effective version of the melody. Then the speed really takes off as Figlia from Verdi’s Rigoletto enters and now the guitarist really does need his top – class technique to cope sufficiently well with this part. There is absolutely no let – up here until it moves suddenly into the final piece, the beautiful Largo Al Factotum, from Rossini’s Barber of Seville. This takes the difficulty factor even higher as the notes really fly off the fingers, playing quavers, as one does here, at the huge speed of 144 dotted crotchets a minute. This final section is of considerable length and the speed never lets up until the final forty or so bars where the player is encouraged to go even faster. There is a sudden strumming part, that leads to the final reminder of the main tune, and then the last bars with a hugely climactic set of D Major chords, that would have an audience on their feet in admiration.

I loved this long piece. It works very well on the guitar, and yes, it needs a wonderful player to give it its full due, but this is a real show – stopper of a work that really does deserve all the recognition it gets. Fabulous !!


Chris Dumigan

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