Review By David Denton, Naxos,March 2009
Though all but forgotten today, Ferdinando Carulli was the most fashionable guitarist working in Paris in the early part of the 19th century, and the first to write a complete classical guitar method. A most gifted virtuoso who became a highly respected pedagog as well as a prolific composer. Most of his output involved the guitar and included duos, trios, chamber ensembles and concertos. Always commercially aware, he explored the guitar and piano duo, a particularly marketable pairing among Parisian audiences. Like most composers of his time, he created popularity by incorporating in his works tunes from famous operas. Opening with an adaptation of Beethoven’s Variations on Ein Madchen oder Weibchen from Mozart’s Die öte, it is the piano that has the major rôle. Greater equality comes in the Duo on themes of Rossini, Ferdinando working here with his guitar-playing son, Gustavo. They also combined in the Duo in D major, though by what extent each contributed is unclear. The most substantial score comes from 1814 with the Grand Duo Concertante in A major,its three extended movements almost in the form of a concerto. The three-movement Nocturne is a lively score and unlike music that came later with that title. The disc ends with three showpieces using Rossini themes here taken at leisurely tempos. Franz and Debora Halasz are the persuasive guitar and piano duo, Franz’s nimble left hand bringing a nice clarity to his playing. Strangely, many of the technical difficulties are given to, and met by, Brazilian-born Debora who shows why she is enjoying such a successful solo career. The recording made by Bavarian Radio could have been a little more generous in their balance towards Franz.more....