The fundamental principle of the passacaglia is the repetition of a “ground,” or bass line, which provides the piece with continuity and coherence. Above this unforgiving bass line, a vocal line flows freely, assuring that the form is not static. In the greatest passacaglie, the mathematical and architectural features are of paramount importance, while the polarity between ground and melodic line creates remarkable expressive force and vitality.
This recording focuses on the two periods when the passacaglia was thoroughly explored: the Baroque and the twentieth century. Presented here are some lesser-known works for solo guitar, Alexandre Tansman’s and Franz Burkhart’s passacaglie, as well as two masterpieces in the history of music: Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s Passagalia, and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Ciaccona from the violin partita BWV 1004. I perform both of these works, originally composed for solo violin, in my own arrangement for ten-string guitar. Placed at the midpoint of the recording is one of the most significant and original contributions to the twentieth-century literature for solo guitar: Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70, which culminates in a dramatic passacaglia.
1. Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1704): Passagalia*
2. Alexandre Tansman (1897–1986): Pièce en forme de Passacaille
Benjamin Britten (1913–1976): Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70
3. I. Musingly (Meditativo)
4. II. Very agitated (Molto agitato)
5. III. Restless (Inquieto)
6. IV. Uneasy (Ansioso)
7. V. March-like (Quasi una marcia)
8. VI. Dreaming (Sognante)
9. VII. Gently rocking (Cullante)
10. VIII. Passacaglia (Misurato) - Slow and quiet (Molto tranquillo)
11. Franz Burkhart (1902–1978): Passacaglia
12. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750): Ciaccona BWV 1004*
Nicolò Spera, six-string and ten-string guitar
*Transcription for 10-string guitar by Nicolò Spera
RELEASE DATE: 2021
Artist: Nicolò Spera (guitar).
Label: Contrastes Records