Fernando Sor (1778 - 1839) was, along with the Italian Mauro Giuliani, the greatest composer for the guitar at the turn of the 19th century, and his method remains one of the most remarkable publications on guitar technique. Unlike Giuliani, however, Sor wrote little for orchestra (with the exception of his revolutionary chorus Corone la victoria, written when he was in the army resisting the Napoleonic onslaught into Spain, and four ballets), preferring solo or duet genres to concertos. As a lifelong enthusiast of dance and song, many of his works are based on Catalan traditional themes, but he did turn to orchestral works by fashionable composers of the day including Mozart and Daniel Steibelt, arranging dances by them for guitar. The Op.39 set is an example of these transcriptions. Sor travelled widely throughout Europe, including spells in the UK and Russia, and accepted a post in the French administration (like many Spanish intellectuals) after the defeat of Spain. Napoleon Coste (1805–1883) was the son of a French soldier and in 1830 he studied with Sor in Paris where he established a name for himself adapting the newly published (in France) songs of Schubert for guitar and voice. As in the music of his teacher, the spirit of the dance is never far away in Costa’s music, as can be heard in the Scherzo and Pastorale Op.10. The Grand Duo, however, is a late work on a large scale, and is more complex, presenting considerable challenges to the players.
- Of interest to all classical guitar aficionados.
- "They are indeed first-rate virtuosi with a wonderful sense of style and musicianship" (Soundboard magazine).