The Soldier’s Return

The Soldier’s Return
Guitar works inspired by Scotland
James Akers
Resonus RES10165. 61’00

Music by Mauro Guiliani, Lauigi Legnani, Fernando Sor & Johann Mertz

If the composers aren’t familiar to you, some of the melodies will be in this selection of 19th century guitar pieces inspired by Scotland during the early Romantic era. Scotland was an influence to many artists and musicians of that period, famously Mendelssohn after the 1829 visit that produced the Scottish Symphony, Hebrides Overture and Fingal’s Cave. Giuliani Mauro is given most coverage, with six simple pieces, some of which are enlarged into a larger format by combining, repeating, and adding a prelude. Fellow Italian Lauigi Legnani has the most extended and elaborate pieces with his two variation sets on themes from Rossini’s opera La donna del lage, based on Sir Walter Scott’s poem on James V of Scotland.

The Spaniard Fernando Sor also contributes variations on ‘a favourite Scottish Air’, which opens the programme. Particularly interesting is Fingal’s Cave by the Hungarian guitarist, Johann Kaspar Mertz, the tonal colours becoming increasingly dark and intense as the piece progresses.

James Akers plays with obvious relish for the romantic idiom of the music, and for the distinctive sound of the guitar. The recording is very close, reinforcing a very distinct sound, but also picking up the players breathing and finger movements, in most cases rather distractingly.

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