Programme Notes

Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude, Fugue and Allegro BWV 998
His inscription ‘Pour La Luth ò Cembal’ is Bach's only indication about the instrumentation for this piece. The developed counterpoint structure, however, leaves musicologists in doubt about appropriate instrumentation. Too challenging to perform with a lute, the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro were more likely written for a lautenwerck or lautenclavier, a small harpsichord with a similarly shaped body to that of a lute, with gut strings plucked by a quill device.

The Prelude is similar to the 'Well-tempered Clavier' pieces, composed in the same period. The form of the Fugue is rare in Bach’s work and only two of his other fugues have a similar ternary construction. This can be explained by the late composition date of the piece: between 1740 and 1745. This fugue would have been written around the same time as his ‘Art of Fugue’, which is the more mature period of Bach’s composition. The Allegro, in binary form, is much more typical of Bach’s work.

Giulio Regondi, 'Introduction et Caprice' opus 23
Regondi was a child prodigy, developing a virtuoso technique for the guitar. All his compositions are influenced by his extraordinary velocity, and the ‘Introduction et Caprice’ is one of his most famous works. After a slow and melodic introduction the main tune incorporates innumerable scales, arpeggios and shifts which make the piece challenging for the guitar player.

Benjamin Britten, 'Nocturnal' opus 70

Come heavy sleep, the image of true death;
and close up these my weary weeping eies:
Whose spring of tears doth stop my vitall breath,
and tears my hart with sorrows sign swoln cries:
Com and possess my tired thoughts, worne soule,
That living dies, till thou on me be stoule.

These words are from John Dowland's ‘Come heavy sleep’, one of his best known songs. Britten used Dowland’s piece as a main tune and developed it with eight variations, each having a unique character and representing a different phase of sleep.

Joaquin Rodrigo, 'Sonata giocosa'
The three movements of the 'Sonata giocosa' were dedicated to Renata Tarragó. Rodrigo had previously written other sonatas (as the ‘Cinco Sonatas de Castilla con Toccata a modo de Pregon’), but the 'Sonata giocosa' was his first for guitar. The strong dance rhythm and the colour of the melody in the first movement convey a marked Spanish character, while the second movement, with its E minor key in addition to the slow tempo, has a melancholic atmosphere. Influences from the baroque era are discernable, for example in the constant rhythmic pattern and the contrapuntal voicing. The Allegro in A major which finishes the piece is punctuated by the typical Spanish alternating 6/8-3/4 rhythm.