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CD Feature/ Frederic Zigante: "Giuliani - Le Rossiniane"

img  Tobias

Surely, if the guitar were a more popular solo instrument, Mauro Giuliani would now be one of the gods. Not that this Italian composer didn’t enjoy his fair share of praise and admiration in his lifetime. Especially in the three years he spent in Rome, between 1820 and 1823, he developed ties with Paganini and Rossini, made a name for himself as a performer and wrote like a madman – the fruits of this period are still reaped by guitar students worldwide today. But as the years have passed, his fame has withered in comparison to that of his friends and colleagues and Giuliani – if we may believe the historians – died without causing too much commotion. It is 2007 and with his fortune in a low, this artist desperately needs some help - who would be better suited to bring him back from the dead than Frederic Zigante?

Or, to address the theme of this nicely packaged double-disc boxset: Who could possibly be more ideal to uncover the delicate relationship between Giuliani and Rossini, their friendship and mutual injection of inspiration, which lead to the “Rossiniane”, which constitutes the focal point of this release? After all, Zigante already has a couple of albums to his credit, which have placed the Italian composer into the limelight. This insight matters, because, despite their title, these six between eleven and sixteen minute long miniature operas for solo guitar are far from being mere transcriptions of Rossini-melodies. Which is not to say that Giuliani considered transcriptions as inferior; in fact his relative fame was founded on them and he wrote a noteworthy translation of the ouverture to “The Barber of Seville” for two guitars. But it does mean that this music is, for most parts, genuinely his own and must only be considered to have been inspired by Rossini. It also helps understanding the “Rossiniane” better, if one furthermore considers that Giuliani was a multi-instrumentalist for most of his youth and most likely an opera-fan – he therefore thought in wider and grander dimensions than someone focussing exclusively on the guitar. Thus were also the considerations of Zigante, when preparing to record and he sums it up best when remarking that it was a primary aim to capture the theatrical nature of the “originals”. One can thus get lost completely in these renditions, which are rich in their melodic, harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness and dramatic in the grandness of their design. All the same, Zigante has kept a certain airiness, an breath of light heartnedness and stripped the score of all pompousness – if it was ever there in the first place.

He has also managed to flood the notes with the rays of light and kept a certain distance at the same time – which is all the more important, as the danger of this turning into musical wallpaper is always present. All of this requires a deep understanding and love for Italy and its people and it can hardly come as a surprise that Zigante, although born in France, has spent large chunks of his life in Milan. Even though his recitals all around the globe have given him considerable accolades, he remains an insider tip, which can of course once again be explained by his profession. Surely, if the guitar were a more popular solo instrument, Frederic Zigante would be one of the gods as well.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Frederic Zigante
Homepage: ARTS Music

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