Between 1953 and 1967, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895–1968) wrote 53 works for various instrumental ensembles that were collected together as Opus 170 and given the title Greeting Cards. Castelnuovo-Tedesco described them as ‘alphabetic pieces’: he derived their musical themes derived from ascending and descending chromatic scales, in which each note is combined with a letter of the alphabet.
On this new album, Cristiano Porqueddu plays the 21 Greeting Cards composed for the guitar. They are small, unexpected homages that Castelnuovo-Tedesco liked to give his friends, to musicians who played his works, to his pupils and occasionally also to people who were not musicians. He later declared them to be minor works, but each of them is filled with affection, regardless of the professional status of the subject. In this imaginary gallery there are thus portrayals of legendary musicians such as Jascha Heifetz and Andrés Segovia alongside several of his students, including André Previn, Christopher Parkening and Eugene Robin Escovado.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco made each Greeting Card a vivid portrait of the dedicatee, usually by combining rhythms and atmospheres that reflected nationality, as with the Tonadilla sul nome di Andrés Segovia or the Canción venezolana sul nome di Alirio Díaz. However, there are also more abstract references, such as the Rondel on the name of Siegfried Behrend (No.6) or evocations generated by the name itself: the Fantasia sul nome di Henry e Ronald Purcell (No.38), for instance, or the Volo d’Angeli sul nome di Angelo Gilardino (No.47). What they all have in common is a depth of feeling that transcends their superficial status as ‘occasional’ pieces.
The Sardinian guitarist Cristiano Porqueddu has become known as a major interpreter of modern guitar music, not least thanks to his extensive catalogue of recordings on Brilliant Classics. This includes his own music – solo and concertos – as well as albums dedicated to his teacher Angelo Gilardino and wide-ranging collections of works by European and American composers, many of which were composed especially for him.
Between 1953 and 1967 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence, 3 April 1895 - Beverly Hills, 16 March 1968) wrote 53 works for various instrumental ensembles that were collected together in his Opus 170 and given the title Greeting Cards. Twenty-one of these compositions were intended for the guitar.
These compositions, which the composer described as “alphabetic pieces”, are built around two identifiable thematic groups derived from two chromatic scales, one ascending and the other descending, in which each note is combined with a letter of the alphabet. The thematic sequence thus depended on the forename and surname of the dedicatee by means of a link akin to the basic principles of serial music. Using this system to establish the two main themes of each piece, the composer could proceed free of other constraints, relying solely on his absolute mastery of the component parts of music.
The Greeting Cards are like a gallery of portraits of players, friends and pupils that resound with affection, regardless of the professional status of the “sitter”. In this imaginary gallery there are thus portrayals of legendary musicians such as Jasha Heifetz or Andrés Segovia alongside those of several of his students, including André Previn, Christopher Parkening or Eugene Robin Escovado. Each portrait reflects the composer’s private musical world.
Played with affection and understanding by Cristiano Porqueddu, one of today’s foremost guitarists. Critics call him “A reference point for a new generation of musicians”. His Carnegie Hall recital was a triumph: “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” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle). His Brilliant classics discography is substantial and impressive and includes works by Barrios, Sor, Gilardino, and many others.