Chamber Music: By Filippo Gragnani(1768-1820). Filippo Gragnani was a guitarist-composer born in Livorno on September 3rd, 1768, to a family of musicians and lute-makers. Little is known about his life and activity as a concert performer. In his home city he studied harmony and counterpoint with Giulio Maria Lucchesi, devoting himself at the same time to the guitar, which soon became his main focus; he quickly achieved success as a virtuoso performer.
His first experience as a composer for the guitar was probably in Italy, where, in the first years of the 1800's, he published some works for guitar and chamber music with the publishers Ricordi and Monzino of Mila.
Information about Gragnani ceases by 1812. This year was therefore considered by some scholars as being his date of death, but this was never verified, nor was the assumption that Gragnani had died in Paris. During these times he traveled to Germany and then eventually settling in Paris by 1810. There he befriended and became a pupil of Ferdinando Carulli, to whom he dedicated three of his guitar duets and who in turn also dedicated some duets to Gragnani.
Little is known about Gragnani after 1812 although the "Registro dei Morti" (Register of Deaths) of the Church of St. Martino di Salviano in Livorno indicates he died on 28 July 1820.
The flute, guitar and clarinet are overall the favorite instruments of the Italians, but during the pre-romantic generation the guitar was highly esteemed as an ensemble instrument throughout Europe with no less a figure than Berlioz praised, the lush dynamic quality and penetrating rhythm of the guitar.
Filippo Gragnani, the protagonist of a whole guitar generation, opened up the sound from the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century as his compositions were played throughout Europe, from Sicily to St. Petersburg, but Paris was where he received his greatest success even before Carulli. Gragnani geared his music to the taste of the early salons, making Gragnani a financial success for many years. It is odd that Gragnani's music seemed independent of the events of the French Revolution as he continued to publish and perform.
On this CD you'll hear Gragnani's high degree of technical independence combined with a fine feel for tonal nuances, with a vivid expression in these pieces. Comparing Gragnani's finely crafted chamber music with other works by other composers in the genre, you'll notice quickly that Gragnani was an exceptional composer with his early training in Naples, polished in Vienna and fully blossomed in Paris. But the very intimate nature of the guitar made it a limited instrument, best suited for chamber music and limited Gragnani's success in the great concert halls. So, Gragnani's compositions consist of sonatas, duos, variations, chamber music and exercises for teaching.
Filippo Gragnani: Chamber Music CD total time 68:54
Quartet to Op. 8 A major 21:56
-for violin, clarinet and two guitars
1. Allegro 8:32
2. Adagio 7:22
3. Minuetto-Trio-Minuetto 2:42
4. Rondo. Vivace 3:13
Trio Op. 13 D major 13:52
-for flute, violin and guitar
1. Allegro moderato 7:25
2. Adagio 2:59
3. Rondo. Allegretto 3:23
Duetto for 2 guitars in D major 15:46
1. Moderato 6:19
2. Andante mosso 3:19
3. Rondo. Allegretto 6:07
Sestetto A major 16:59
- for flute, clarinet, violin, and 2 guitars and cello
1. Allegro 8:31
2. Adagio ma non tanto 2:41
3. Minuetto 2:30
4. Allegro assai 3:09
The principals: Consortium Classicum
Andrea Lieberknecht, flute
Dieter Klocker, clarinet
Andreas Krecher, violin
Armin Fromm, Cello
Sonja Prunnbauer, guitar (1-14)
Johannes Tappert, guitar (1-4, 8-14)
Guitars: Kolya Panhuyzen
The musicians do a wonderful job recreating the unique sound of Gragnani. Making this music something that you want to hear with the different combinations of instruments. It's very unfortunate that only parts of Gragnani's oeuvre have survived. When you listen to this CD you'll experience a composer that was sensible, intellectual, well-balance and chamber music was his love. You'll hear the difference from what Carulli and Giuliani would have written.
This is a MDG Gold recording with a SPARS Code: DDD recorded on November 3-5, 2005 in Leipzig, made in Germany and this is an audiophile recording which refrains from any sort of sound modifying manipulation with reverberation, sound filter, or limiters. Listening on a Blu-ray play back you'll get the full benefit of a genuine reproduction with precise depth gradation, original dynamics, and natural tonal colors. There is spatial dimension and you can hear the artistic interpretation in the music giving a quality naturalness with vividness.