Premier of Italian guitarist praised at Carnegie recital
The Italian guitarist Cristiano Porqueddu performed a guitar recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Friday, July 14 to a full and appreciative audience.
Porqueddu has occupied himself in the past years with the Herculean task of recording the complete works of Barrios, the complete solo works of Angelo Gilardino as well as massive surveys of music forms by excellent and lesser-known composers. It was a distinct pleasure to hear him in concert.
On July 14, Porqueddu performed a program of primarily Italian music, the exception being “Sonata-Fantasia” by the Spanish composer Joan Manen. This work, a staple of the repertoire, was written “for and because of Andres Segovia.”
The version offered here by Porqueddu was based on a manuscript before Segovia made editorial changes, with or without the composer’s consent, and differs in a number of places.
Overall, this manuscript version is harmonically more daring at times, there are fewer guitar effects and, generally, this version is more about the structure and less about the instrument. The form itself is a Lisztian double-function sonata that is rare in the guitar repertoire. It is a masterpiece and Porqueddu played it as such.
Before the Manen work, Porqueddu performed works by two Italian composers. The “Due Canzoni Ebraiche” by Franco Cavallone are rich and pensive folk song settings. These are pieces to program alongside the folksong arrangements of Miguel Llobet and Mikis Theodorakis. Porquedu’s sound was rich, warm, clear and focused.
Alfredo Franco’s “Novembrina, The Anatomy of Melancholy” finds its expression via strong harmonic progressions, piquant dissonances and a steady rhythmic flow with a deluge of virtuosity in the center section — all elements coming together to express the sweet melancholy of an autumnal evening.
The entire second half of the concert was devoted to seven “Study di Virtuosita e di Trascendenza” by Angelo Gilardino. These are fiendishly difficult works that require an enormous amount of stamina and control. The sound that comes out the guitar as a result is magnificent. These studies can be seen as a technique of interlacing patterns with the open strings functioning as a loom upon which Gilardino superimposes kaleidoscopic finger patterns. His writing here has the effect of an aural tapestry. On top of that, there are numerous extra-musical allusions to painters, poets and composers. Porqueddu’s performance was especially stunning in the “Omaggio a Prokofiev.”
In recent years, Porqueddu has carved out a career for himself that has infinite potential. He has the vision and fortitude to forge a new and substantial path by discovering, recording and performing great works that have been largely ignored. There are a few pianists that formed similar career pathways, notably Marc Andre-Hamelin. We see that Porqueddu has found his way.
Mark Delpriora is a guitarist and composer currently on the guitar faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School. He lives in Cobble Hill, where he maintains a teaching studio.
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