Fernando Sor - William Carter - Gramophone

Among the guitarist-composers of the Classical and early Romanticperiods – Carulli, Carcassi, Giuliani, Aguardo and others – Spaniard FernandoSor (1778-1839) was perhaps the most gifted compositionally. Best known in hisday for his vocal and ballet music, he also wrote numerous fine miniatures andmore extended works for solo and duo guitar, many of which are still in therepertoire.

            Here, period-instrument specialist William Carter, whose disks of the Baroque guitar music of Francesco Corbetta and Santiago de Murcia are models of their kind, turns his attention to the early solo works of Sor via a guitar built by Tony Johnson after various 19th-century instruments. And while there are other recordings available of Sor’s music on period instruments, such as those by José Miguel Moreno and Agustín Maruri, this is a first in that Carter also plays, as did Sor, with the flesh of the fingertips rather than the nails.

            The use of an instrument which is lighter and smaller than a modern classical instrument and the fingertips of the right hand results in a delicate yet surprisingly broad range of tones and colours that perfectly evokes the period-instrument sound world in a chamber or orchestral context. This, combined with Carter’s refined musicianship and trademark dynamic shading shows the selection of Sor’s minuets, the famous Variations on a Theme by Mozart, the beautiful Mozartian Andante largo, some of the better-know studies from Op 6 and the masterful Grand Solo to be so much more than merely well carfted salon music. Superb.

The Gramophone
01 May 2010