Sor/Werthmüller/Marschner Works for Guitar
After a long voyage of rediscovery of nineteenth-century guitar repertory there are still worthwhile finds to be made; two are, to my knowledge, recorded here for the first time. Marschner (1795-1861) is familiar as an important composer of romantic opera and the possessor of a fine voice; what is less well known is that his principal instrument was the guitar, with which he enjoyed a successful career as a self-accompanied singer. The six (of 12) Bagatelles indicate that he had considerable skill with the guitar and within their modest limits (only one lasts for more than two minutes) they have great charm. On the other hand we know of Franz Werthmuller – and his dates (1769-1841) – only by a manuscript copy containing the Sonata in A and a few smaller pieces “set for guitar in memory of the composer by Pfeifer”. Franz Pfeifer was a nineteenth-century Austrian guitarist/composer. Hoppstock opines that the substantial Haydnesque Sonata was originally a piano work and the technical demands of its outer movements lend force to that conclusion. Wherever it came from, it is a real boon to the guitar’s repertory. Sor is no newcomer and the works recorded here break no fresh ground, but never have they enjoyed finer performances on the modern guitar.
Hoppstock is an exceptional player, with a fine sense of style and unfailing sensitivity, and a technician of the first water; his tone is refined and beautifully nuanced, his delivery is clean and sure even in the passages where the utmost dexterity is called for, and his command of varied articulation is admirable – the opening of the Study, Op. 31 No. 18 makes one of many such points. It is a recording that no guitar lover should be without, and the excellent sound comes as a bonus.'