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MP3 Pierluigi Potalivo - Spirito di una Sonata

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A fascinating rewriting of Giuliani and five captivating evocations of Sor, Mompou, Turina, Lauro. A new meaning to the word 'interpretationâ.

9 MP3 Songs in this album (48:38) !
Related styles: Classical: Mozart, Classical: Programmatic music, Solo Instrumental

People who are interested in Andrés Segovia Fernando Sor Mauro Giuliani should consider this download.

The CD Spirit of a Sonata is meant to be an original way to interpret the traditional repertoire of classical guitar and a peculiar manner of composing music. The approach I used for this project shows that interpreting someoneâs music isnât just a matter of making a literal performance of the exact notes they wrote and adding your feeling to it: at least this is not the only way. Above all, what really counts is to succeed in evoking the soul of the composer.

After so many beautiful performances of the same pieces of music made in almost a century, keeping to this repetition may stiffen up our music. Rather, a musician may work directly on the music and even, sacrilegious as it may sound, rewrite it and turn it into a real encounter between the player and the composer â if one is capable of it, of course. What needs to be pursued is the capability of catching the spirit of a creator: to be his resonance rather than his replicant. This is what I did with Mauro Giulianiâs Sonata op.15 and, in the second of my works I recorded â5 Possibile Eventsâ, with Claude Debussy, Federico Mompou, Fernando Sor, Antonio Lauro, Jaquin Turina. Here I imagined five possible events, which could have occurred in the lives of those composers, and the way they would have reacted to them.

Pierluigi Potalivo

âPierluigi Potalivo is a native of Rome, Italy, and a classical guitarist with a serious pedigree. His guitar teacher, Sergio Notaro was taught by none other than Andrés Segovia, who is essentially responsible for what we think of as "classical guitar" today. Potalivo went on to earn a Diploma from the St. Cecilia Conservatoire, and grew into a musical/philosophical shift born of a desire to pay homage to the composers he's played as well as dialogue with them by reinterpreting and sometimes re-creating their masterpieces. This approach, available only to those with finely expert skills, leads Potalivo to take established classical compositions and reinterpret them with an artist's ear. This is the crux of Potalivo's album Spirito Di Una Sonata.

While speaking of perfection in a review is always a risk, it's not a stretch to say that Potalivo's performances throughout Spirito Di Una Sonata are technically perfect. Potalivo sets his own pace, using the entire sound stage (so to speak) for expansive phrasing and dramatic effect. He opens with the four movements of Maurio Giuliani's Sonata, Op. 15: The Spirit Of A Sonata. "Allegro" brims with life and shows masterful skill. Potalivo manipulates his way through a musically and emotionally complex series of phrases to craft an organic whole that is more than the sum of its parts. "Adagio" follows a classic arc, moving from pensive and broodingly dark passages to bright and airy runs before returning whence it came. The melody, as expressed by Potalivo, is lovely even in its darker moments. "Scherzo" thrives on a nervous energy run through with the aura of necessity and need. The technical aspects of Potalivo's playing are brilliant, and his emotional impact through tension and phrasing are equally exceptional. Potalivo's pick work here is blinding, leaving all but the most accomplished guitarists in awe. "Rondò in C" finds Potalivo instilling a tremendous sense of movement with an improvisational air, almost as if he's engaging in a series of variations rather than a loose but loving interpretation.

The rest of the album is a work entitled Five Possible Moments: A Program Of Hispanic Forgeries. In the process, Potalivo offers situational interpretations of Claude Debussy, Federico Mompou, Fernando Sor, Antonio Lauro and Joaquin Turina. âStudio (Fernando Sor spies Debussy)â is a brief interlude; pensive and reticent, Potalivo introduces a certainty and insecurity here. âCancion (Federico Mompou thinks of Albeniz)â is meandering; sad and full of regret at the beginning. He lifts the veil and sunshine peeks through partway through the piece. Potalivo builds the melody line in strength and presence before returning to the songs darker elements in an arc very similar to that heard in âAdagioâ. âTarantas (Joaquin Turina recalls a Gypsyâs Chant)â is an enjoyable diversion into flamenco guitar thatâs reserved and polished. In one of those quiet musical moments that turn into something greater, Potalivo uses exquisite phrasing and presence to bring magic out of the moment. âTarantella (Antonio Lauro the Venezuelan returns to Naples)â is a slow halting affair that slowly grows into a mesmerizing swirl on notes. He closes with âBurlesca (Fernando Sor mocks his own âwaysâ)â and continues the circular compositional style, but this time with a joyful feel.

It is common to find guitar players who are technically superior but lack heart, and players who are all heart but lack the technical chops to truly excel are even more common. Pierluigi Potalivo owes much to his teaching, but he has taken the technical skill learned over years of study and melded it with a fine ear and an empathic sensibility that helps him get to the heart of the composersâ intent. Unlike many musicians, Potalivo has never been quite satisfied with simply giving listeners the original, treating each original composition as a living, breathing organism rather than a sacrosanct creation. The result is the wisdom of the masters blended with the inspiration of the life-long student who reveres those who came before but is advanced enough to hold his place in conversation with legends. Spirito di una Sonata is a musical dialectic; a Socratic debate where illumination is achievedâ.

Review by Wildy Haskell

"How does one properly interpret a piece of classical repertoire that was written hundreds of years before they were born? Written in a time and place that is as foreign to the performer as the modern world would appear to the composer, how could one begin to imagine what the composer had in mind when they penned any particular composition? These are the questions that classical guitarist Pierluigi Potalivo tackles within the performance of his album Spirito di una Sonata (The Spirit of a Sonata).

The album begins with a unique and highly personable interpretation of Giulianiâs Op. 15, which carries the same title as the record. Written in four movements, âAllegro,â âAdagio,â âScherzoâ and âRondo,â the piece is a showcase for Potalivoâs highly-crafted technical ability and advanced melodic interpretation. This is not your typical rendition of a Giuliani Sonata, as one would hear in any typical student classical guitar program, but a reworking of the piece that is meant to pay tribute to the composer as much as bring the work into a modern context.

Potalivo possesses impeccable technique, and the accuracy of his slurs during the opening movement are a testament to this. Further, his soulful and mature telling of the âAdagioâ section really brings his artistic merit to the listenerâs attention. Far too often, especially in todayâs classical guitar world where technique is King, players will sacrifice melody, tone and emotion for that extra few notches on the metronome, but Potalivo is not your typical player. He allows each line to breathe, drawing every ounce of emotion from this powerful piece.

His handling of the deceptive cadence at 7:00 into the movement is a prime example of Potalivoâs musicianship. Rolling the dominant chord, before holding onto a single melody note for just the right amount of time, he pulls the listener into the codetta with the utmost respect for both the piece and the audience. It is moments like this that really make this album stand out among the crowded classical guitar library.

The second half of the album, titled âFive Possible Moments: A Program of Hispanic Forgeries,â presents five short vignettes, each presenting a possible moment in history that is then retold through the interpretation of the pieces. âFernando Sor Spies Debussyâ brings to life an imagined meeting between the two composers and performers, the former a guitarist and the later a pianist. The imaginary voyage continues with the Spanish flavored piece âFederico Mompou Thinks of Albeniz.â Filled with lush harmonies and hints of Spanish rhythms, this second short movement is one of the second halves finest moments. Again, Potalivo takes the opportunity to shine on a slower, more emotional movement, whereas other players of similar stature might simply rely on the presto movements to create excitement.

While he does showcase his musicianship during the slower movements, there are also moments, such as âAntonio Lauro the Venezuelan Returns to Naples,â where Potalivo allows the listener a glimpse into the technical side of his playing. His slurs are solid as he weaves his way through a melodic line that has the potential to trip up even the most seasoned classical guitarist.

Also, his ability to play unison fretted and open string notes side by side in perfect tuning should not go unnoted. As anyone who has spent time with a classical guitar will know, simply placing oneâs fingers on a fret does not guarantee a note will be in tune, there is a definite amount of skill to keeping notes in tune as one ascends the fretboard, a skill that Potalivo possesses and demonstrates throughout this movement.

Spirito di una Sonata (The Spirit of a Sonata) is an enjoyable and masterfully performed album. It provides a fresh look at oft-performed repertoire, one that is at once a tribute to the composers who wrote these pieces as it to the master craftsman who performed them. Potalivo takes a risk with his interpretations on this album, and manages to succeed on every level".

Review by Matt Warnock, Executive Director of the WIU Guitar Festival

"Italian classical guitarist Pierluigi Potalivo has taken his proficiency with his instrument to a new and exciting realm that many instrumentalists never encounter. Instead of simply being able to play the pieces the great composers left behind, Potalivo interprets them beyond mere musicality and emphasizing every direction notated on the manuscript but is attempting to channel the composer himself.

Spirito di una Sonata is an apt title for an album of this nature and is coincidentally the namesake of the opening work on the disc. Potalivo expertly plays all four movements of Mauro Guilianiâs fifteenth opus, which is reminiscent of Beethovenâs dramatic piano sonatas. The opening Allegro has its arpeggiated major chords complete with grace note ornamentations, then a quiet intense midsection circling back to the original melodic theme and finally recapping with truncated snippets of each section amidst many runs and flourishes in the coda. Bravo!

What transports Spirito di una Sonata far beyond Guilianiâs classical composition is Potalivoâs original ensuing work âFive Possible Moments, A Program of Hispanic Forgeries.â Potalivo attempts to get inside four renowned Hispanic composers and contemplates how they would write a piece under differing influences. He has cleverly written and performed in the styles of two different men at the same time. That is quite a feat and not a common task bestowed upon the majority of classical players, but Potalivo has tackled this creative muse successfully.

Spanish guitarist Fernando Sor lived the same time as Giuliani and hence was a traditionally classical composer by nature. However, he was often disgruntled and sarcastic, spending much of the latter part of his life traveling throughout Europe. Fittingly, Potalivo composed âBurlesca: Fernando Sor mocks his own âways.ââ One of the best ways to make a mockery is to be adept at what it is that is being made fun of. This facetiously droll work is classically structured but purposely inserts some accidentals and chord variations that would have caused great anxiety to the musical audiences if played in the early nineteenth century.

Potalivo ponders what would have become of Sor if his musical genius would have been allowed to endure and he was beset upon by the Romantic and Neoclassical movements. In âStudio: Fernando Sor spies Debussy,â the guitarist slowly and hesitantly meanders through the diverse chord structure of these late nineteenth century ideas lacking any tangible meter or key signature. This ethereal, slightly dissonant and disjointed work sounds like a determined body jumping across a creek along a path of slippery stones.

Debussy was the prolific French Impressionist composer whom many credit with bridging the gap between the Romantic and Neoclassical movements. He was also acquainted with the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina. Potalivo takes advantage of this amity in âTarantas: Joaquin Turina recalls a Gypsyâs chant.â Turina would have been quite accomplished with the tarantas or flamencos, however Debussyâs influence could have led to this meandering melody that ebbs and flows. Throw in a mixture of gypsy folklore and you have a quiet, transient work that utilizes the upper harmonics of the guitar and a small bit of percussive thumping on the shell that swirls around in a musical haze until it dissipates.

Along a similar vein is âCancion: Federico Mompou thinks of Albeniz.â The latter was a Spanish pianist who wrote folk music, much of which was translated to the guitar. Mompou was a Spanish composer a generation later and was considered by many to be Debussyâs successor. The Cancion, or song, is an aurally pleasing melodic piece that delves into a few fleeting instances of neoclassical chord progression. The overall effect is a slightly melancholy yet wistful movement with the tune strolling along atop light strumming.

The last juxtaposition on The Spirit of a Sonata is âTarantella: Antonio Lauro the Venezuelan returns to Naples.â Lauro was a 20th century Venezuelan guitarist and cultural nationalist. Naples is the birthplace of the lively Italian tarantella dance. There is conflict on influences in this quick piece between the South American and Italian conceptions. It is a full, well thought out work that ends succinctly with a smile.

Potalivo has clearly established himself as a prolific composer in his own right by tackling these immensely creative ideas and performing them with gusto.
The Spirit of a Sonata is a brilliant album and should be brought to the attention of true classical music aficionados".

Review by Kelly O'neil

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