Guitarist and musicologist Thomas Schmitt is heard on this new Centaur CD in an enjoyable program from Spain of sonatas, variations, and dances for guitar. The album title is Spanish music for a 6-course guitar around 1800. What is most unique and exciting about the disc begins with the instrument itself.
During the 18th century and well into the 19th century, the guitar in Spain was strung in courses rather than single strings. A course is two or more adjacent strings tuned to the same pitch, or as is often the case for the lower courses, in octaves. These two strings are closer to one another than to neighboring strings of different pitches and are played together as though one. The instrument used for this recording is also uncommon in that there is no bridge; the strings are attached directly to the lower body of the instrument. The result is a distinctive timbre that can be likened to that of a lute. There’s a certain softness to it, a glow, like a loud halo.
Made up of works by five little-known Spanish composers, the sixty-five-minute program contains roughly fifty minutes of music appearing as recording premieres. They are the sonatas by Antonio Abreu (c.1788) and Isidro de Laporta (c.1790), as well as Fantasia variazioni by Federico Moretti (c.1765-1838). Every piece is undemanding and pleasant. In the video below, you’ll see the instrument played for this recording and hear Mr. Schmitt perform a Presto by Antonio Abreu, a composer (although not a work) represented on this CD. The sample in the sidebar is from this album; it’s Fandango by Salvador Castro de Gistau, exhibiting the unique rhythmic and melodic touches and effects that make the guitar sound so at home in the music of Spain.
Mr. Schmitt performs the final work on the program, a fandango by Dionisio Aguado, on an uncoursed instrument – one with single strings – so we can hear the difference between the two. If you collect guitar music, you’ll enjoy these beautifully performed rarities from Spain.
Spanish Music for 6-course Guitar Around 1800 Salvador Castro de Gistau: Fandango; Isidro de Laporta: Sonata in F; Federico Moretti: Fantasia, variazioni e coda, Op. 27; Antonio Abreu: Sonata in E; Dionisio Aguado: Le Fandango varie, Op. 16; Thomas Schmitt, 6-course guitar
Source: Centaur Records
Thomas Schmitt is a guitarist and musicologist. He graduated from the Music Conservatory in Vienna with Konrad Ragossnig and obtained a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Mainz. In his work, he relates to research and music interpretation. This zeal appears in several papers, in recordings and editions. He has recorded 4 CDs, two of them devoted to the music of J.S. Bach, about which critics have written that it is “a contemplative introspective performance… awe-inspiring” (Early Music, 2/2012) (Biography Taken from Booklet)
Composers: Salvador Castro de Gistau, Federico Moretti, Antonio Abreu, Dionisio Aguado