Franco Gulli, Studio Orchestra & Franco Capuana - Curci: Violin Concertos (Remastered)_Booklet

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A l b e rto Cu rc iViolin ConcertosFranco Gulli violin Studio Orchestra • Franco CapuanaAlberto CURCI (1886-1973) Violin Concertos This release brings…
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A l b e rto Cu rc iViolin ConcertosFranco Gulli violin Studio Orchestra • Franco CapuanaAlberto CURCI (1886-1973) Violin Concertos This release brings together four superb performances by one of the great Italian violinists, Franco Gulli, sympathetically supported by a pick-up orchestra of expert Milanese musicians conducted by Franco Capuana. The name of the composer Alberto Curci (1886-1973) is virtually unknown outside Italy – and not that well known within it – even though he spent his entire career in plain sight in Palermo, Parma and his native Naples, teaching the violin, acting as a musical administrator and lending a hand with the family music publishing business.Alfredo – along with Oreste de Rubertis – founded the Neapolitan version of the Amici della Musica movement, which for more than a decade brought the finest musicians and ensembles to the city for recitals. Their firm diversified into film music and in 1932 and 1936 opened branches in Rome and Milan, the latter destined to become the major publishing enterprise under Alfredo’s direction, with its offices in the Galleria del Corso. Alberto Curci, born in Naples on 5 December 1886, showed a precocious talent for the violin and studied at the San Pietro a Majella Conservatorio with Angelo Ferni, a pupil of Alard, Bériot and Vieuxtemps. Graduating in 1904, Alberto was advised by the pianist Eugen d’Albert to go to Berlin to further his studies with Joseph Joachim. This he did the following year, making his Berlin début in 1907 at the Mozart Saal, with the Blüthner Orchestra under Fritz Steinbach, who invited him to appear in Cologne. He toured Scandinavia in 1908 and in 1909, Mendelssohn’s centenary, played the E minor Concerto in many cities. With the pianist Maria Carreras and the cellist C. Guaita he gave a series of chamber concerts in Berlin; and he won praise for his interpretation of the Beethoven Concerto. He took lessons from Otakar Ševčík in Prague in 1910 and the next year had a success with Liebesboykott, inspiredA convenient starting point for the Curci story is 1860, when Francesco Curci (1824-1912) moved from Avellino to Naples and opened a shop selling musical instruments and handcopied scores. His children Pasquale, Achille and Concetta continued what became the Casa Musicale Fratelli Curci; and in the year of their grandfather’s death, Pasquale’s sons Giuseppe (1884-1953), Alberto and Alfredo (18911952) set up the Casa Editrice di Operette e Vaudevilles to publish the lighter kind of opera and operetta. One of their first editions was Alberto’s operetta Liebesboykott (War to love), composed to Johannes Bubendey’s German libretto and first performed at the Neues Operetten Theater in Hamburg. The Casa Curci premises moved from Via dei Tre Re to Via Roma 304/5 in 1919, the year Alberto and ̶ 2 ̶Alberto Curci, Positano (NA), Italy, 1956. © Edizioni Curci historical archives ̶ 3 ̶Franco Gulli, Franco Capuana and Alberto Curci at the recording sessions Ěś 4 Ěśby Aristophanes’s Lisistrata (its Italian première was given in 1913 in Ancona). The Great War found him back in Italy, giving concerts for the troops. In 1916 Guido Alberto Fano invited him to teach at his alma mater the Conservatorio, but with the end of the war in 1918 he resumed touring, traversing Europe, visiting the Dutch East Indies and the Far East with fellow violinist Luigi La Volpe and resuming his German contacts. After teaching in Palermo and Parma, he was persuaded back to the Naples Conservatorio by Francesco Cilea, and spent 40 years nurturing violinistic talents there. All this time he was involved in the Edizioni Curci publishing business, writing didactic works which are still used by violin teachers, translating the teaching books of Alfred Cortot, Joseph Szigeti and Carl Flesch into Italian and eventually allowing some of his own music to be issued. In 1966 he founded the Fondazione Curci, and the following year instituted a biennial violin competition. He died in Naples on 2 June 1973.first theme is initially heard from the orchestra, then taken up by the soloist; the second theme is more yielding and after both themes have been developed, with splendid writing for the violin, the movement ends emphatically with a coda. The Romanza is a beautiful inspiration which, if there were any justice in the world, would be a hit on Classic FM and other stations that thrive on broadcasting individual movements: it opens very quietly, with hushed strings, and the violin introduces an optimistic theme which is succeeded by a contrasting but related theme; the music becomes more passionate and a brief violin cadenza leads to another effusion and a quiet ending. The skittish finale starts with a springy rhythm in the orchestra, before the violin spins off into a Neapolitan dance; a broader theme is introduced for contrast, the dance returns and the various motifs compete in the coda. The Second Concerto, Op. 30, premièred at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, in 1962 with Franco Gulli as soloist and Franco Caracciolo conducting the opera orchestra, is influenced by impressions Curci gained when touring the Slavic countries. After a slow orchestral introduction, the violin makes a tentative entrance in the Allegro giusto with quite a strongly profiled theme which leads to declamatory rhapsodic gestures involving much passagework; a soaring, lyrical second theme alternates with the first theme and a martial sub-theme before the orchestra asserts itself in a dramatic episode. This is a much busier opening movement than that of Op. 21 but once again it is beautifully writtenJudging by these works and his shorter pieces for violin – typified by the Mazurca brillante, Op. 26 – Curci was not an especially original composer. But he did have a genuine melodic gift, heard at its freshest in the Concerto romantico, Op. 21. This delightful work, published in 1944 although one suspects it was written somewhat earlier, was first heard in Naples, played by Arrigo Pelliccia with the Alessandro Scarlatti Orchestra under Ferruccio Scaglia. In recent years it has been played by the fine violinist Fulvio Luciani. In the Allegro animato, quite a masculine ̶ 5 ̶Original mono LP cover [Curci Records LP 120] Ěś 6 Ěśfor the violin, with passionate outbursts. It leads straight into the Andante, a passionate, rhapsodic movement with a lovely main theme and a quiet close. A violin cadenza in gipsy style, interrupted by the orchestra, heralds a characterful finale with various episodes, including one in gipsy mode, which ends with a brilliant virtuosic coda. The Concerto was published in 1963.the Concerto ends in brilliant fashion. It was published in 1966. The Suite italiana in stile antico, Op. 34, also published in 1966, seems to come from an earlier part of the century and taps into a tradition, upheld chiefly by the two Rs – Reger in Germany and Respighi in Italy – of writing ‘in the old style’. Before the revival of genuine Baroque music, a lot of unashamedly mock-baroque works were composed and at the same time, a brisk market in fakes was established by such men as Fritz Kreisler and the brothers Henri and Marius Casadesus. Curci’s Suite pays charming homage to the Baroque with a sturdy Allegro, incorporating lyrical interludes; a lovely, graceful Larghetto pastorale in siciliano style; a Minuetto with a delightful ending; a Gavotta with varied strains which ends whimsically; and a merry dance (Presto) with virtuoso figuration for the soloist.After two concertos with folkloristic elements, Curci deliberately set out to compose his Third Concerto, Op. 33, in a more symphonic style, with some cyclic use of themes. After a bright, brief tutti, we hear the animated first theme; the second theme is broader and more lyrical and in general this Allegro appassionato is very attractive music, attractively worked out; the orchestra has a stormy tutti in the development and another one, in the form of a coda, ends the movement emphatically. The Andante, introduced quietly by the orchestra, employs a single song-like theme to which one could almost add words – it is heard twice, in slightly different moods. The orchestra features briefly at the start of the finale and alternates with cadenza passages for the soloist, before the main theme appears, followed by a lyrical theme and virtuosic passagework. Up to now, in his concertos Curci has used trills a good deal, especially in Op. 30, but has been sparing with double-stopping and cadenzas. He now gives his soloist a major cadenza, with interjections from the orchestra, to underline that this finale contains the most virtuosic music in any of the three works. Violinist and orchestra review earlier themes andFor half a century Franco Gulli, born on 1 September 1926, was one of the world’s top violinists, a noble ambassador for the Italian string style and a superb musician. For much of that time he was almost equally renowned as a teacher, latterly at Bloomington, Indiana, where he died on 20 November 2001. Those who believe in ‘the spirit of place’ will find it significant that this remarkably adept all-rounder hailed from Trieste, a city with Italian, Austrian and Slavic influences. Although Gulli had the chiselled features and dark complexion of the typical Italian, the family name had at one time been Gullich. The young Franco was given a small ̶ 7 ̶violin on his fifth birthday and was initially taught by his father. Franco Gulli Snr – who had himself studied in Prague with Otakar Ševčík and Jan Marák – practised with the boy for an hour every day and Franco Jnr gave his first recital in 1934: Vivaldi’s G minor Concerto, Op. 12 No. 1, with a string orchestra conducted by his father, and a group of virtuoso pieces. At nine he was playing the Bach Chaconne in public and a year or so later he was into Paganini, but his career as a prodigy was interrupted by the war. After studies at the local conservatory, made difficult by the wartime German occupation of Trieste, he graduated in 1944 and followed the well-trodden path to Arrigo Serato’s masterclass at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. Later he also worked with Joseph Szigeti in Switzerland. In 1947 Gulli linked up with the pianist Enrica Cavallo (1921-2007) in a duo which soon extended to marriage. The couple quickly became the outstanding sonata interpreters in Italy; Cavallo’s ability to switch between piano and harpsichord made it possible for them to cover the entire literature from the baroque to the 20th century and although illness made their appearances sparser in later years, they were an important force on the chamber music circuit for five decades, famed for their Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert cycles. Double concertos were written for them by several Italian composers. In 1960 Gulli and two friends, his contemporary Bruno Giuranna and the somewhat older Amedeo Baldovino, formed the Trio Italiano d’Archi. When Baldovino joined the Trio di Trieste, Giacinto Caramia took over the cello part and the Gulli-Giuranna-Caramia combination made perhapsthe most beautiful string trio sound of the time, perfect in balance and intonation and with a burnished bronze italianate tone. Franco Gulli used many fine violins but at the time these recordings were made, his main concert instrument was a 1742 Giambattista Guadagnini. Franco Capuana, born in Fano on 29 September 1894, studied at the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella in Naples. He made his conducting début at the Teatro Costanzi, Rome, in 1917 and for the next dozen years built up his career in various Italian opera houses, as well as in Cairo. He was at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples (1930-37), also conducting the Orchestra Stabile Sinfonica, then at La Scala, Milan (1937-40 and 1946-52). He also appeared in South America and in 1946 conducted the first post-war performance at Covent Garden, of La traviata with the visiting San Carlo company. He returned to London in 1950 with the La Scala company and in 1951 as a guest. A composer as well as a conductor, Capuana was known in Italy for his interpretations of Wagner, Strauss and such composers as Janáček, Honegger and Hindemith, but abroad was always asked to conduct Italian opera. He died on 10 December 1969, the opening night of the San Carlo season, while conducting Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto. © 2017 Tullly Potter̶ 9 ̶Issue note This First Hand Records reissue brings together for the first time, in newly remastered transfers from the source tapes, the Edizioni Curci stereo recordings of Alberto Curci’s four works for violin and orchestra. The first two concertos were first released, in mono only [Curci Records LP 110], in Italy in 1963, followed by a first and only stereo release, in the USA in 1974 on Musical Heritage Society [MHS 1784]. The Third Concerto and the Suite were first released, in mono only [Curci Records LP 120], in Italy in 1964. The stereo versions were issued five years later on a short-lived and largely unknown Curci Records cassette [CUMC 1004]. The difficulty of locating verifiable recording ledgers has made the identification of some of the production credits an uncertain undertaking. The anonymous orchestra, conducted by Franco Capuana, is almost certainly made up in the main of members of the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala which, at the time, was under exclusive contract to EMI, possibly supplemented by members of the Orchestra dell’Angelicum and freelance musicians. Several Milanese orchestras of the period recorded using pseudonyms; for example the Orchestra Palladio was a pseudonym for the Orchestra dell’Angelicum, the Orchestra dell’Opera di Milano was none other than the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, and the Orchestra Lirica di Milano was the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Milano. The Basilica of Sant’Eufemia in Milan was one of the preferred venues of Italian EMI, notably for recordings byI Musici, the Quartetto Italiano, the Quintetto Boccherini, Maria Callas, and some Teatro alla Scala productions. Enigmatically named on the master tape boxes as Soldo, the recording engineer is thought to be Pasquale Soggiu, the principal recording engineer for Dischi Angelicum. Peter Bromley and Paolo Zeccara Violin Concerto No. 1 © 1944, Violin Concerto No. 2 © 1963, Violin Concerto No. 3 © 1966, Suite italiana in stile antico © 1964, by Edizioni Curci S.r.l. – Milan, Italy. By kind permission of Edizioni Curci S.r.l. All rights reserved. Photo of Franco Gulli on page 8 taken during a concert presented by the Accademia Musicale Chigiana at the Teatro dei Rinnovati, Siena, Italy in 1970. Used with kind permission of Galliano Passerini © 2017 FHR thanks Peter Bromley, Laura Moro (Edizioni Curci S.r.l.), Galliano Passerini, Tully Potter, & Paolo Zeccara̶ 10 ̶Also on FHR CD, downloads, streaming The 1989 Herodes Atticus Odeon Recital, Athens, Greece [FHR46] Tatiana Nikolayeva piano “As a first release, this is quite a discovery.” (Gramophone 2016 ʻCritics Choiceʼ) “What revelations!…” (American Record Guide) • “A splendid concert…” (BBC Music Magazine)VILSMAŸR: Six Partitas for Solo Violin etc (2CD) [FHR38] Vaughan Jones violin “…Mystery Sonatas [Passagalia], played with a purity, profundity and sense of dramatic architecture that truly stops you in your tracks. Really, bravo.” (Gramophone Magazine, Feb 16, ʻ Editor's Choiceʼ & Audio Editor's pick of the month)SHOSTAKOVICH: The Two Violin Sonatas & Other Rare Chamber Works [FHR37] Sasha Rozhdestvensky violin / Jeremy Menuhin piano et al “…a programme that leads off with a noteworthy performance of the late Violin Sonata” (DSCH Journal) “...very effective performance from Rozhdestvensky and Menuhin” (BBC Music Magazine) Exciting new recordings • Fascinating historical issues • Exemplary productions w w w.f i r s t h a n d r e c o r d s . c o m ̶ 11 ̶
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