Recording of November 1993: Music for Violin & Guitar

ARTURO DELMONI: Music for Violin & Guitar
Handel: Sonata in E. Giuliani: Sonata in A, Op.85. Leisner: Sonata for Violin & Guitar. Kreisler: Andantino. Granados-Kreisler: Spanish Dance. Ravel: Pièce en forme de Habanera. Paganini: Cantabile. Chaminade-Kreisler: Serenade Espagnole.
Arturo Delmoni, violin; David Burgess, guitar
Athena Productions ACSC-10006 (CD only). Bob Katz, eng.; Arturo Delmoni, prod. DDD. TT: 62:04

My admiration for Arturo Delmoni's playing is well documented in my reviews of his earlier recordings (see Vol.11 No.6, Vol.12 No.10, and Vol.14 No.1), but it seems that he has outdone himself here, with the sympathetic accompaniment of guitarist David Burgess. What has always been apparent is Delmoni's almost self-effacing submission to the score, his refusal to let his substantial technique overshadow the music. This predisposition is evident in these performances and is complemented by perhaps the most impressive display yet of Delmoni's tonal control and subtlety of phrasing. Burgess mirrors these aspects of his artistry in every measure.

While one might have hoped for just a bit more buoyancy in certain parts of the Handel sonata, the polish and articulation are superb. An unexpected pleasure is the piece by Mauro Giuliani, a late-Classical guitarist. With high-spirited fast movements and an ineffably transcendent melody in the second movement, the music is portrayed incisively, with appropriate Classical charm and courtliness.

The most challenging piece in the collection—and I wish there were more of them—is the work by David Leisner, who contributed his guidance to this premiere recording. The fire and passion of the outer movements are wonderfully balanced by an almost prayerful central movement, characterized by unexpected modulations that are both technically clever and richly ambiguous in the best poetic sense.

The remainder of the selections are brief, exquisitely played encore pieces reminiscent of Delmoni's collaboration with pianist Meg Bachman Vas in Songs My Mother Taught Me on North Star and MFSL. [Now available from John Marks Records.—Ed.]

My enthusiasm for this recording is dimmed only by the pervasive (with the exception of the Leisner) "prettiness" of the repertoire, and by an infrequent glare in the violin's upper registers. This steeliness was evident over both my Magnepan MG2.6/Rs and a pair of Thiel CS3.6es at House of Stereo in Jacksonville, Florida. Otherwise the sound is nearly revelatory, with the instruments rising smoothly and effortlessly from a pitch-black background.

These are remarkable performances captured in unusually lifelike sonics, and I strongly recommend them, especially to those who have, or wish to, come under Mr. Delmoni's selfless spell.—Robert Hesson