“Sonatas” = BROUWER: Sonata; D. SCARLATTI: 3 Sonatas; MERTZ: Fantasie; PAGANINI: Large Sonata for Solo Guitar; DYENS: Libra Sonatine – Magdalena Kaltcheva, guitar – NCA Debut multichannel SACD 60164-207, 72:31 (Distr. by Naxos) ****:
We have here a lovely 19-year-old Bulgarian guitarist’s debut disc, in a fine program with minimal duplication and excellent, warm hi-res multichannel sonics. (I suggest you anti-SACD proponents compare the stereo CD layer of this disc with the hi-res surround SACD if you persist that the latter is not necessary in reproducing a simple solo instrument.) One of the themes of the program is that aside from Domenico Scarlatti, all these composers were skilled guitarists themselves, and the feeling is that a composer writes differently if he has a virtuoso’s command of the guitar.
Brouwer is the current leading Cuban guitarist/composer/conductor. His three-movement Sonata is from 1990 and modern but not experimental in its style, as were some of his earlier works. I especially liked its second movement, titled Sarabanda de Scriabin, which has a dreamy, mystical quality. Scarlatti is known for the clever imitation of Spanish guitar figurations in some of his 555-odd harpsichord sonatas, and Kaltcheva has chosen three here which – due to her placement of the fast ones first and last and a slow one in the center – take on the satisfying structure of a three-movement guitar sonata.
While Paganini never departed from public performance on his beloved violin, he was also a virtuoso guitarist and wrote many works for the instrument. His Grosse Sonate fur Gitarre allein is also in three movements and technically most challenging. Its closing Andantino variato movement features a series of variations which pull out all the stops guitar-wise, including tremolo passages, octave runs, and a break-neck tempo. The closing Sonatine is from a living French composer whose skill as a great improvisor is exhibited in this three-movement work. Many different musical elements have influenced Dyens’ approach, with the middle section Largo even having some jazzy influences.
– John Sunier