Sor Guitar Works

Author: 
John Duarte

Sor Guitar Works

  • Introduction and Variations on 'Ye Banks and Braes
  • (6) Airs choisis de l'opéra "Die Zauberflöte"
  • (Le) calme
  • Sonata for Guitar in C, 'Grand Sonata II'
  • Introduction and Variations on 'Ye Banks and Braes
  • (6) Airs choisis de l'opéra "Die Zauberflöte"
  • (Le) calme
  • Sonata for Guitar in C, 'Grand Sonata II'

In its early years the classic guitar had a smaller body, its upper strings were made from gut (the lower ones had silk cores), and it was played without the nails of the right hand—the practicalities of authenticity. Whether or not the Dutch guitarist Lex Eisenhardt plays with or without righthand nails is not vouchsafed, though the sound suggests that he does use them, but the rest is authentic, a guitar from 1825 made by Staufer of Vienna—and despite the sleeve photograph, neither Eisenhardt nor his instrument is lefthanded.
The programme of music by Sor, the most poetic guitar composer of his time (and that of the Staufer), nicely avoids the pot-boilers; only one item, the Op. 40 Variations, has a surviving recording in the current UK catalogue (Alice Artzt on Meridian E77006, 6/78), Bream's version of Op. 25 having fallen under the axe (RCA ARL1 0711, 3/75). The latter sonata is the most substantial piece of its time in that form, the first movement traversing keys then rarely ventured, the second a theme and variations, the last a minuet. Scottish tunes were in vogue, as witness the attentions of J. C. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven, so it is not surprising to find Sor exercising his favourite pastime in varying one. The six airs from Die Zauberflote are pleasant 'recompositions', the fifth yet one more variant of ''Das klinget so herrlich'', the subject of Sor's 'top-of-the-pops' Op. 9—for once absent from an all-Sor, solo programme. Le calme is a slightly plaintive salon piece, very rarely heard.
Eisenhardt is a very capable player who produces a consistently beautiful sound, but his dynamic range is only moderate and it lacks strong contrasts: this, together with one or two leisurely tempos, produces a rather bland and polite effect, lacking Bream's panache ad penetration. This is nevertheless and agreeable programme, excellently recorded.'

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