Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Sonata “Omaggio a Boccherini”

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)

Sonata “Omaggio a Boccherini”

I. Allegro con spirito

II. Andantino, quasi canzone

III. Tempo di Minuetto

IV. Vivo ed energico

Born in Florence, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was one of the leading composers recruited by guitar virtuoso Andrés Segovia to create a new repertoire for the classical guitar in the 20th century. This four-movement sonata (1934) is his first major guitar work. As usual for Segovia’s collaborators, the work took shape through an intense dialogue between composer and performer. Although the piece pays homage to Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Classical compatriot, Luigi Boccherini, it contains no literal quotations from him, serving instead as an inspiration for Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s own Neoclassical style.

The jaunty first movement is in a fairly traditional sonata-allegro form, although some of the themes presented in the exposition stubbornly refuse to return the tonic key in the recapitulation. The second movement begins as a lyrical Italian canzone (song) but gradually builds in intensity until it surprisingly transforms into an quotation from Manuel de Falla’s famous “Spanish Dance” from La Vida Breve. The third movement, a minuet and trio, evokes the rhythm of the famous Minuet in A major for which Boccherini is best-known today, but with distinctively Romantic harmonies. The finale is a lively rondo, with blazing arpeggios interrupted by a stately march.

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