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Album at a Glance

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Centaur Records:Founded in 1976, Centaur is one of the oldest and largest independent classical labels in the U.S. Centaur recordings are available in major markets throughout the world.
Release Date: 2013-05-28


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Spanish Music for 6 Course Guitar around 1800 / Thomas Schmitt


Guitarist and musicologist Thomas Schmitt is heard on this new Centaur CD in an enjoyable program from Spain of sonatas, variations and dances for guitar. The album title is Spanish music for 6-course guitar around 1800. What is most unique and interesting about the disc begins with the instrument itself.

During the 18th century and well into the 19th century the guitar in Spain was strung in courses, rather than single strings. A course is two or more adjacent strings tuned to the same pitch, or as is often the case for the lower courses, in octaves. These two strings are closer to one another than to neighboring strings of different pitches, and are played together as though one. The instrument used for this recording is also uncommon in that there is no bridge; the strings are attached directly to the lower body of the instrument. The result is a distinctive sonority that can be likened to that of a lute. There's a certain softness to it, a glow, like a sonorous halo.

Made up of works by five little-known Spanish composers, the sixty-five minute program contains roughly fifty minutes of music appearing as recording premieres. They are the sonatas by Antonio Abreu (c.1788) and Isidro de Laporta (c.1790) as well as Fantasia variazioni by Federico Moretti (c.1765-1838). Every piece is undemanding and pleasant. In the video below you'll see the instrument played for this recording and hear Mr. Schmitt perform a Presto by Antonio Abreu, a composer (although not a work) represented on this CD. The sample in the sidebar is from this album; it's Fandango by Salvador Castro de Gistau, exhibiting the unique rhythmic and melodic touches and effects that make the guitar sound so at home in the music of Spain.

Mr. Schmitt performs the final work on the program, a fandango by Dionisio Aguado, on an uncoursed instrument - one with single strings - so we can hear the difference between the two. If you collect guitar music, you'll enjoy these beautifully performed rarities from Spain.