Napoli 1810: Italian Romantic Music by Pascal Valois

Napoli 1810: Italian Romantic Music
By Pascal Valois (romantic guitar)
Analekta, 2021

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Great to hear this new album of solo works played by Canadian guitarist Pascal Valois on a Romantic guitar by Cabasse-Bernard (c.1820). Composers include Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) and Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). You should also check out Valois’s other album of Napoleonian Guitar Sonatas that show his continuing interest in the era. I love the sound of the charming Romantic guitar that cleans up the texture with a warm plucky sound. Nice playing by Valois with some beautiful moments throughout. My favourite work was the Op.15 Sonata by Giuliani which is one of the more significant works in the repertoire and hearing it on a period instrument gives it an extra charm. Below is the intro paragraph from the album booklet which you can download and read more from at Analekta.

In the early 19th century, Italian music reigned over the guitar repertoire. Virtuoso works in which melody predominated were strongly influenced by the period’s omnipresent bel canto style. Bel canto, or the art of beautiful singing, has a series of characteristics typically associated with the voice. On this recording, I attempt to use elements of bel canto to highlight the lyricism of the melodic lines. My approach to these works includes an emphasis on phrasing, bringing out different accents, and using rubato, improvisation, and ornamentation. My hope is to reveal the splendour of the Italian Romantic guitar.

Here’s a live performance of one of the works from the album.

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