Gerald Garcia – Camerata Cassovia – Peter Breiner ‎– Baroque Guitar Favourites (1993)

FrontCover1“Baroque Guitar Favourites”: Arrangements for Guitar of Music by Antonio Vivaldi (Trio Sonatas RV 82 and RV 85; Lute Concerto RV 93; Violin Concerto RV 277) and by Johann Sebastian Bach (Harpsichord Concerto BWV 1052). All arrangements by Gerald Garcia. Performed by Gerald Garcia, guitar, and members of the Camerata Cassovia, directed by Peter Breiner. Recorded at the House of Arts in Kosice, Slovakia, in June 1990. Music notes by Gerald Garcia (not, as stated on the cover, by Keith Anderson). Released in 1992 as Naxos 8.550274. Total playing time: 75’23”.

Over the last 20 years, the Naxos label has done a great deal to obtain its reputation as one of the leading classical guitar labels. Its very first guitarist was Gerald Garcia, who was not slow to show the way forward by extending the rather limited guitar repertoire by making arrangements of pieces originally written for other instruments. This is what he has done here, too: None of the music on this disc was written for guitar, it is all arranged by Garcia himself, who plays a modern guitar and definitely not a baroque instrument. This rather makes the title of the disc a misnomer: no baroque guitar, no guitar music at all in the original, and certainly no guitar favourites as these arrangements were only made shortly before the disc was recorded! It would have been more to the point to entitle the whole: “Baroque Favourites arranged for Modern Guitar”, but I suppose the marketing strategists wouldn’t have liked that very much!

Gerald Garcia

What we do get to hear here is some very pleasant, tuneful, harmonic baroque melodies in which the part of the main soloist (lute, violin, harpsichord) is replaced by Garcia’s skilful and tasteful guitar-playing which is, in its turn, put very much in the forefront by the engineer. For the concertos, the necessary accompaniment is by the Camerata Cassovia, a chamber ensemble taken from members of the Slovak State Philharmonic of Kosice in Eastern Slovakia; the higher string parts sound quite acceptable, while I found the lower strings (the “basso continuo”) to be rather dull and uninspired. For the Bach, this continuo includes a harpsichord, providing a sonic background that does not let the listener forget that it is an arrangement of a harpsichord concerto that he is listening to. The Vivaldi trio sonatas were originally for violin, lute and continuo, and they are here played with the guitar as a suitable replacement for the lute, but with a viola d’amore in place of the violin, a decision which not only subordinates the string playing to the guitar, but which also sounds quite pleasing. Unfortunately, the strictures on the basso continuo apply here, too: Pavol Gimcik, cello, and Maria Lickova, modern harpsichord, provide nothing more than the absolutely necessary accompanying chords, so that it is definitely better to concentrate on Gerald Garcia’s delightful guitar playing.

Peter Breiner

This is definitely music that you can listen to for hours on end in the background. If you are not worried about historical authenticity and love the sound of the classical guitar, and if you are prepared to accept the rather lame continuo accompaniment, you will find this disc most enjoyable. Vivaldi’s and Bach’s music is so optimistic and so harmonically rich that it can bear any number of such arrangements. (by Leslie Richford)

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Personnel:
Gerald Garcia (guitar)
Pavol Gimcik (cello)
Maria Licková (harpsichord)
Karol Petroczi (viola d’amore)
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Camerata Cassovia conducted by Peter Breiner

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Tracklist:

Antonio Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in E Minor, RV 277, “Il Favorito”:
01. I. Allegro 5.22
02. II. Andante 5.56
03. III. Allegro 5.22

Antonio Vivaldi: Trio Sonata in C Major, RV 82:
04. I. Allegro non molto 4.05
05. II. Larghetto – Lento 4.13
06. III. Allegro 2.33

Antonio Vivaldi: Trio Sonata in G Minor, RV 85:
07. I. Andante molto 4.14
08. II. Larghetto 2.40
09. III. Allegro 2.19

Antonio Vivaldi: Lute Concerto in D Major, RV 93:
10. I. Allegro giusto 3.45
11. II. Largo 4.38
12. III. Allegro 2.31

Johann Sebastian Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052:
13. I. Allegro 9.14
14. II. Adagio 8.21
15. III. Allegro 10.10

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