Giovanni De Chiaro

Melodie d'Amore

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The recordings released on the Centaur label present a sampling of the classical music that hangs on in the small and medium cities of the United States, largely un-nurtured by the wider culture. The reader of the booklet from this disc of solo guitar music learns nothing of the performer or the disc's origins except that it was recorded in a Catholic church in Hattiesburg, MS, and that the quite elegant floral design on the cover was a product of Always Yours, Flowers by Sheila, in Pineville, LA. Neither of these places is known as a classical music hotbed, but the disc is a small pleasure. Guitarist Giovanni de Chiaro has released other albums of inventively transcribed music, and here he delivers a program that harks back to the kind of concert a touring virtuoso of 100 years ago might have given. All the music was transcribed by de Chiaro himself from piano or orchestral sources, and the program features groups of substantial pieces at each end with shorter, lighter pieces in the middle. It is unclear why, say Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette (or, for that matter, Waldteufel's waltzes) should be considered a melodia d'amore, and there are other issues with the packaging. The booklet is pretty much useless, providing unneeded biographies of the composers but touching little if at all on the actual pieces. But the transcriptions themselves are invariably elegant and in several cases highly inventive. The "Can-Can" from Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld might seem a difficult piece to render on the guitar, but de Chiaro transfers its energy into quick strumming idiomatic to the instrument. The shorter pieces would provide a relaxing interlude for any commuter-listener, and the centerpiece of the final group, Fauré's Pavane, is again artfully reduced to the dimensions of the guitar. Sound is competitive with that of larger enterprises that specialize in guitar music.

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