When they began playing together in 2017, Stefano Cardi and Enrico Pieranunzi went in search of repertoire which would harmonise with their disparate musical backgrounds, that of a classical guitarist with a passion for jazz and blues, and a jazz pianist with a thorough grounding in the classics. They turned quickly to America, both north and south, and found there a well-stocked but little-known library of pieces by composers who moved easily and skilfully between popular and classical idioms.
This unique recital opens with one of Joplin’s best-known piano rags, The Easy Winners, and follows it with a pair of waltzes, also in arrangements for guitar and piano. Cardi and Pieranunzi then sail down to Buenos Aires for a trio of tangos by Joplin’s Argentinian contemporary, Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934). The juxtaposition of Gershwin and Guastavino is more familiar, none the less beguiling for that, especially played with such easy-going charm.
The final pair of North and South American composers is the most ingenious: the Prelude and Waltz from Dave Brubeck’s 1961 album Points on jazz, answered by two of the Cuatro Danzones by Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905), the Cuban composer who studied with Alkan at the Paris conservatoire and played an instrumental part in establishing a classically formed voice for Cuban music.
Most of the pieces chosen by Cardi and Pieranunzi were originally conceived for solo piano, but these arrangements draw out the particular, nationally accented character of their melodies when transferred to the guitar. Listened through in an hour-long sequence, the album takes the listener on an often nostalgia journey through the waltz as it was played and danced and heard throughout North and South American during the first half of the last century.
This album marks Stefano Cardi’s second appearance on Brilliant Classics after an equally novel and imaginative exploration of vocal and chamber music by Mauro Giuliani (95813), the pioneering guitar composer of 19th-century Italy.
A fascinating program of American Music in the widest and most flexible sense possible, so characteristic for the country itself.
All of them are American but their ‘Americanness’ is much more than a geographical fact. It constitutes a cultural source of a specific musical ‘vocabulary’ and aesthetics such as the strong link with the folkloric roots of their respective countries of origin or eclecticism in their musical expressions.
Included are works by Scott Joplin, Ernesto Nazareth, Carlos Guastavino, George Gershwin, Dave Brubeck and Ignacio Cervantes.
Played with obvious love and dedication by Stefano Cardi (guitar) and Enrico Pieranunzi (piano), who arranged and transcribed the music himself.