Guido Santórsola (1904–1994) began his musical studies at the age of five, taught by his father, a sculptor, trumpeter and double bassist who moved from Southern Italy to São Paulo, Brazil in 1909, with the rest of the family joining him the following year. He enrolled at the São Paulo Conservatory of Music, then travelled to Naples to hone his violin technique and later London, where he studied at the Trinity College of Music under Alfred Mistowsky. His eventual return to Brazil coincided with a visit from Pietro Mascagni. At a concert in the great composer’s honour Santórsola, accompanied at the piano by Mascagni himself, performed his own compositions for violin and piano for the first time.
Santórsola’s final compositional period began at the age of 58, in 1962. He devised a very personal 12-tone technique free from conventional rules, and not to be confused with Schoenberg’s. His language is rooted in the golden age of Florentine counterpoint through to Bach.
The novel instrument used on this recording – the gran violino a 5 corde (great five-string violin) – originated from an idea by violinist Mauro Tortorelli, who commissioned the luthiers Vincenzo and Marco Corrado – based in Montegiordano, in southern Italy – to build a special instrument covering both the violin and viola registers by adding the viola’s low C string to the usual four of the violin. This ingenious solution allows the performer to switch between violin and viola repertoire on the same instrument.
The Sonata for violin and piano, composed in São Paulo in 1928, undoubtedly belongs to Santórsola’s early compositional period. Divided into three movements – Con sofferenza, Andante espressivo, Deciso – it is based on classical sonata form but with typically post-romantic expressive, passionate themes, enriched with original South America-inspired harmonies.
Saudade, a nostalgic piece for violin and piano dedicated to Santórsola’s mother, was composed in 1931. The violin has a binary rhythm in 2/2, while the piano plays groups of five notes in 10/8, the two overlapping to create a sort of atmosphere of unresolved suspense, evoking a feeling of pleasant melancholy in the listener.
Choro No.2 for violin and piano, composed in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1952, is a bright and highly rhythmic piece in Brazilian style that belongs to Santórsola’s middle compositional period. The Danza brasileira and Canção triste, both composed in 1934, written in an ABA lieder form and scored for violin or viola and piano, also belong to the composer’s middle period. Valsa chorosa for piano, written in Montevideo in 1971, and therefore dating from Santórsola’s final compositional period, clearly recalls his first period in the nostalgic way it is written.
- Guido Santórsola (1904-1994) was an Italian-Uruguayan composer. Born in Italy, his family settled in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1909. After receiving initial musical instruction from his father, Enrico, he soon entered the Conservatório Dramático e Musical de São Paulo studying violin and counterpoint, harmony and composition. He went to Europe to study violin with Gaetano Fusella in Naples and Alfred Mistowski at Trinity College, London. Returning to Brazil in 1925, he founded the Brazilian Musical Institute, and was violist of the Paulista Quartet and the Rio de Janeiro Theatro Municipal Orchestra. In 1931 he settled in Montevideo, Uruguay.
- Santórsola is mainly known for his captivating compositions for violin and piano. His works, rooted in a rich musical tradition, exhibit a seamless blend of classical finesse and the emotional intensity of the Romantic era, featuring expressive melodies, coupled with intricate harmonies that enhance the emotional depth of the pieces.
- Drawing inspiration from various sources, including Italian folk music and Latin American rhythms, Santórsola's style is characterized by its unique blend of traditional elements and modern sensibilities. His use of rhythmic patterns and colorful harmonic progressions adds a contemporary touch to his classical foundation, making his music appealing to audiences of diverse tastes.
- Played by the Gran Duo Italiano, Mauro Tortorelli (violin) and Angela Meluso (piano), whose previous recordings for Brilliant Classics (Saint-Saëns, Milhaud, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Scalero) were highly praised in the international press. ‘Tortorelli is equally impressive on viola and on violin… On both instruments he spins a flawless, silky line with perfect intonation.’ (Fanfare, May 2017 – Milhaud). ‘This release is not just for violinists and lovers of violin music; it’s for everyone. Urgently recommended.’ (Fanfare, July 2021 – Scalero), ‘Sympathetic performance… employing many idiomatic (at least to the period) expressive devices.’ (Fanfare, May 2015 – Saint-Saëns).
- Recorded December 2022 in Polla, Italy
- Bilingual booklet in English and Italian contains liner notes by Julio César Huertas and a profile of the artists