Jiji, Guitar and Danbi Um, Violin
Arcangelo Corelli: Sonata in D minor, Op. 5, No. 12 (“La Folia”) (1700): Corelli was one of the most sought-after violin teachers in Italy. His Op. 5 set of 12 violin sonatas was a landmark in the history of violin playing; it went through some 42 editions by 1815! The final sonata, No. 12, has become the most well-known of the set. It is cast as a single movement that demonstrates Corelli’s unprecedented instinct for the overall balance of its variations; he always judges exactly when to succeed fast with slow, hectic with calm. In all Corelli offers 23 variations of widely varied character. Most follow the 16-measure pattern exactly, though several are halved, and the final dazzling variation is extended slightly for closure. The violin and guitar share the spotlight equally, trading off within variations or from one variation to the next. The famous “La Folia” tune appeared in dozens of arrangements during the 17th century; over the course of three centuries more than 150 composers have used it in their works. Due to its form, style and etymology of the name, it has been suggested that the melody arose as a dance in the mid- or late 15th century in the Iberian Peninsula.
Amy Beach: Three Compositions for Violin and Piano, Op. 40 (1898): These three pieces, written in the romantic style, are the beautiful but somber La Captive; a lovely, lyrical Berceuse “lullaby”; and a lively but tender Mazurka (Polish dance in triple time). Scholars will never know exactly why Beach chose to write these pieces or why she chose to have them published together. Given their overall simplicity, the theory that they were written for a pedagogical purpose is certainly plausible. Since Beach did not write extensively for solo string instruments, performers and scholars are lucky to have this charming collection. The name La Captive “the captive” indicates that the piece is to be played entirely on the violin G string, necessitating many shifts into high positions.
Francisco Tárrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra “Memories of the Alhambra” (1899) is among the composer’s most popular works. The piece was dedicated to Tárrega's patron, commemorating their visit to the Alhambra palace complex in Granada, Spain. It showcases a challenging guitar tremolo, wherein a single melody note is plucked consecutively by the ring, middle and index fingers in such rapid succession that the result is an illusion of one long sustained note; the thumb plays an arpeggio-pattern simultaneously. Tárrega’s music and style of playing became strongly influential; he was central to reviving the guitar as a solo instrument, and is considered to have laid the foundations for 20th century classical guitar. As with other Spanish composers of his generation, he had an interest in combining the prevailing Romantic trend in classical music with Spanish folk elements.
Isaac Albéniz: Asturias (Leyenda) “Legend” (1892): Named simply Leyenda by its composer, and originally written for the piano, this work was first published as the prelude of a three-movement set entitled Chants d'Espagne. The name Asturias was given to it posthumously by its German publishers; they included it in a 1911 "complete version" titled Suite española, although Albéniz never intended the piece for that suite. Despite the new name, this music is not considered suggestive of the folk music of the Spanish region of Asturias, but rather of Andalusian flamenco traditions. The theme itself suggests the rhythm of the bulería - a fast, improvisational, fiesta-style flamenco, typical of Jerez de la Frontera. The short middle section is written in the style of a malagueña, borrowing and building on two motives from the previous copla. The piece then returns to its first theme until a slow "hymn-like" passage closes.
Manuel De Falla: Suite Populaire Espagnole (1914): Originally Siete canciones populares españolas ("Seven Spanish Folksongs") was a set of traditional Spanish songs for soprano and piano. Besides being Falla's most-arranged composition, it is one of the most popularly performed sets of Spanish-language art songs. They were dedicated to a patron whom Falla met while living in Paris. The year after Falla returned to Spain the work was premiered in Madrid by Luisa Vela, a well known zarzuela singer of the time, with Falla at the piano. The styles and provenance of the songs are strikingly diverse: for example, Asturiana is from Asturias; Jota is from Aragón. All the song texts deal with love, whether playfully, seriously, or tragically - Nana is a lullaby; Polo expresses a wild desire for revenge on an unfaithful lover.
Paul Kochanski arranged six of the seven songs for violin as this Suite populaire espagnole.
Mauro Giuliani: Grand Overture (1809): The Italian guitarist, cellist, singer and composer Giuliani was influential in defining the role for the guitar in Europe in the early 19th century. He was acquainted with the highest figures of Austrian society, worked with Rossini and Beethoven, and cooperated with the best concert musicians in Vienna. He was a virtuoso performer of the highest caliber as well as a composer of three major guitar concertos, many solo works and a variety of chamber music. Giuliani made important contributions to the guitar's repertoire at a time of radical innovations in the construction of the instrument. Grand Overture is a perfect example of the dramatic late eighteenth century Italian sonata form. Giuliani admirably strikes the balance between form and virtuosity.
Giuliani’s other music includes works for guitar and string quartet, guitar and violin, and guitar and piano. His songs also offer the option of guitar accompaniment. Beethoven is said to have remarked that Giuliani had created a mini orchestra on the guitar with his compositions.
Niccolò Paganini: Caprice No. 24, Op. 1 (ca.1809) is the final section of his famous 24 Caprices for solo violin. It consists of a theme, 11 variations, and a finale. It is widely considered one of the most difficult pieces ever written for that instrument. The theme from Caprice No. 24 is well known and has been adopted by a wide variety of composers. As well as a violin virtuoso, Paganini was actually a skilled guitarist too. He carried his guitar with him on tour, and is said to have played it constantly. Paganini's travels brought him into contact with eminent guitar virtuosi of the day, including Ferdinando Carulli in Paris and Mauro Giuliani in Vienna. But this experience did not inspire him to play public concerts on guitar, and even performances of his own guitar compositions were private to the point of being behind closed doors.
Niccolò Paganini: Cantabile, Op. 17 (1823): Written for violin and piano, this now fairly well-known work seems to have been composed not for public performance, but rather for the private enjoyment of Paganini and his circle. Far removed from the fireworks of his Caprices, this Cantabile is instead in the style of a gorgeous vocalise.
Ástor Piazzolla: Histoire du Tango (1985): Originally written for flute and guitar – a form then popular in Buenos Aires - this is one of Piazzolla’s most famous compositions, often played with different instruments. It was Piazzolla's life work to bring the tango from the bordellos and dance halls of Argentina into the concert halls of Europe and America. He is among the astonishingly varied group of composers who were fostered by the teaching of Nadia Boulanger. Histoire du Tango portrays the history and evolution of the tango in four movements, the first three being played today:
Bordello, 1900: The tango originated around the early 1880s. This movement paints a picture of the chatter of the culturally diverse women who peopled Buenos Aires’ bordellos as they teased the policemen, sailors and riffraff who came to see them.
Cafe, 1930: This is a later age of the tango. People stopped dancing it as they had in 1900, preferring instead simply to listen, as the form became more musical and more romantic. This tango has undergone transformation: the movements are slower, with new and often melancholy harmonies. Tango orchestras came to consist of two violins, two concertinas, a piano and a bass, the tango being sometimes sung as well.
Night Club, 1960: At this time of rapidly expanding international exchange, the Brazilian bossa nova and the new tango are moving to parallel influences. Audiences rush to night clubs to listen earnestly. This marks a profound alteration in the original tango forms.