Houston Early Music, in association with Guitar Houston and the Museum of Fine Arts, is pleased to present a sparkling evening of music, art and wine—the good life indeed! Sensual guitar serenades from the 19th century, performed at an intimate concert with a tour of Italian art and a tasting of Italian wines celebrate La Bella Vita. The duo of Pasquale Rucco and Douglas James specializes in performance of the guitar literature of the early 19th century on authentic instruments of the period. The two met and became friends at guitar festivals in northern Italy during the early 1990s. Since that time they have performed together in the United States and Italy, charming audiences with their interpretations of music from the first true "golden age" of the guitar.
This concert features some of the most famous of the early Romantic guitar duo repertoire. Gragnani was a protégé of the more famous Ferdinando Carulli, another Italian who made his career in Paris. The Frenchman François de Fossa composed nine guitar duos based on the works of Joseph Haydn, of which only one copy of a printed edition is known to survive today. These rarely heard arrangements are exceptional both in their musical quality and suitability for the instruments, retaining all of the classical charm of Haydn while exploiting the textures and timbres of the 19th century guitar. Better known are the Giuliani arrangements of Rossini operatic overtures. The great Italian guitar virtuoso made these arrangements late in his life, probably for performance with his daughter Emilia, herself a guitarist and composer. Also featured will be the first performance of a newly discovered Rondeau pour deux guitarres by Antoine Baron de Barcó, a Viennese guitarist/composer who was also an Austrian cavalry officer. These works are all on the duo's first CD, which was just released last summer.
The Italian guitarist Pasquale Rucco is the winner of several European guitar competitions, including the 1989 Arturo Toscannini Solo Guitar Competition for the performance of 19th century music. He has performed regularly in Europe and the United States, both as a soloist and chamber musician. Mr. Rucco is also the founding director of A.C.I.F., a consortium of music academies operating in the greater Naples region. The American guitarist Douglas James has received numerous prizes and awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Fellowships. He performs frequently throughout the United States and in Europe and has been featured on major classical radio broadcasts including NPR’s Performance Today. Mr. James is Director of Guitar Studies and Appalachian Guitar Fest at Appalachian State University.
The performers are using 19th century guitars for this performance—Mr. James’ guitar is from the Parisian workshop of Jacques Derazey, circa 1830-36 and Mr. Rucco’s guitar is by anonymous French luthier, circa 1810.
Dr. James Clifton, Curator of Renaissance Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will present an Early Conversations lecture entitled Italian Pleasures: A Walking Tour of Italian Paintings from the MFA at 6:30 p.m. Sample the pleasures of Italian art and wine through this tour of the art of Italy from the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston culminating in a tasting of Italian wines from the Houston Wine Merchant.
Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for seniors and students, and may be purchased at the door or by calling 713.432.1744. There will be no charge for children 12 years and under.
La Bella Vita
Duet, op. 4, no. 2 Filipo Gragnani (1768-1820)
Grand Duo, op. 2, no. 2 François de Fossa (1775-1849)
(after Hob. III:8) F. Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Rondeau pour deux guitarres Antoine Baron de Barcó (17??-18??)
Sinfonia nell'Opera "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)
arr. Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829)
This concert is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Houston and Harris County through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County