Classical Guitar recordings – Schubert (Re)inventions: Ensemble Paladino

Schubert (re)inventions MesircaLOWSCHUBERT (RE)INVENTIONS by the Ensemble Paladino is a double-CD which surprisingly contains some première recordings of Lieder for soprano and guitar by Franz Schubert (1797–1828) from Franz von Schlecta’s manuscript, published recently in a facsimile edition by Stefan Hackl and Erik Pierre Hofmann.

The first CD features arrangements of Schubert’s chamber music, although the Notturno in D major for guitar, flute, viola and cello (after Wenzel Matiegka’s version) is placed under ‘miscellaneous’ in the Schubert catalogue, as there is some question regarding its compositional origins. Nevertheless the spirit of Schubert is there, as it is he who added the cello part to this engaging five-movement Notturno which only reveals its night-time darker mood in the Lento e patetico third movement, returning to full sunshine in the  Zingara fourth movement with a strong gypsy feel. Each instrument has a chance to shine in this balanced ensemble with Eric Lamb on flute, Firmian Lermer on viola, Martin Rummel on cello and Alberto Mesirca on guitar.

That gypsy feel can also be heard in the ‘Ungarische Melodie’ in D minor for guitar, D 817, arranged for solo guitar by Angelo Gilardino and Alberto Mesirca and also receiving its première recording here. This is followed by another excellent transcription for solo guitar, the Minuetto from Sonata in G major, D 894, arranged by Francisco Tárrega.

The Sonata in A minor, which is here arranged for cello and guitar, D 821 is also known as the Arpeggione Sonata, written originally for a guitar-like instrument – the arpeggione: with frets and the same tuning as a a guitar, but played with a bow – and piano. The sonata has often been transcribed for cello to play the arpeggione part. One of the earliest recent arrangements of this piece for guitar was by John Williams and Christopher Gunning, who arranged it for guitar and chamber orchestra (John Williams recorded it on his Schubert and Giuliani album [1999, Sony 63385] with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, led by Richard Tognetti). In that arrangement, the guitar played the part for arpeggione and the chamber ensemble played the part for piano. On this recording, Alberto Mesirca is playing the piano part on the guitar and Martin Rummel on the cello is playing the arpeggione part, and it is a very enjoyable performance full of drama and subtle nuances.

The second CD is dedicated to Schubert Lieder. The Schubert Lieder for soprano and guitar (from Franz von Schlecta’s manuscript are sung by soprano Ursula Langmayr accompanied by Alberto Mesirca on guitar. They have chosen ten from the 39 published in the facsimile edition, which are each considerably different in their harmonic explorations and accompaniment, so much so that it is hard to pick out a favourite. To these they have added another two songs: Der Tod und das Mädchen D 531, arranged by Napoléon Coste** and Nachtgesang D314 arranged by Tilman Hoppstock.

This second CD is completed with Alberto Mesirca playing the well-known Johann Kaspar Mertz’s arrangements of six Schubert Lieder for solo guitar. The CD liner notes are very informative on the continuing research and discoveries regarding Schubert’s manuscripts and editions. Of Aufenthalt, one of the six Lieder which Mertz arranged, Mesirca writes:

I was in doubt regarding the transcription of Mertz, which eliminated almost all the rhythmic game of accompanying triplets against the two-note figures of the main voice, which characterize the original composition. In this case I am very thankful to Frédéric Zigante, who shed light on this problem […] Mertz did not use Schubert’s original version of the Lieder for his transcription but rather the versions made by Franz Liszt, who had also simplified the rhythm of two against three. Mertz’ version was thus a guitar arrangement of a piano transcription, a version of Schubert Lieder seen through Liszt’s eyes.

The Ensemble Paladino – here with Alberto Mesirca, guitar; Eric Lamb, flute; Firmian Lermer, viola, Martin Rummel, cello; and Ursula Langmayr, soprano – was founded in 2013 by its core members Eric Lamb and Martin Rummel. Their other recordings include Bach (Re)inventions, Vol. I and Mozart (Re)inventions, both with Eric Lamb and Martin Rummel.

There is much good quality music-making to be enjoyed in this double-CD recording of Schubert (Re)inventions by the the Ensemble Paladino, which reminds us of Schubert’s enduring ability to express life’s experiences through music with a depth that drives directly into our souls.

** Der Tod und das Mädchen is one of 14 Schubert Lieder with their accompaniments for guitar by Napoléon Coste, edited by Brian Jeffery and published by Tecla (TECLA 391).

© Thérèse Wassily Saba 2015

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