Vienna 1840: musique viennoise romantique

Vienna 1840 : romantic viennese music

Release date January 22, 2022
Album code AN 29197
Periods Romantic

Album information

“But truly, there remains much to be read between the lines, which no composer can convey by signs and no editor by explanations.” – Carl Reinecke

The second half of the 19th century was an erawhen musicians valued the evocation of the fantastic and the expression of passion above all else. They did not hesitate to manipulate and reshape musical frameworks through a wide variety of expressive techniques such as rubato (modifying rhythms and varying pulsation), portamento (expressively sliding between notes), arpeggiation, adding appoggiaturas and trills, and improvising musical transitions. For the recording of Vienna 1840, Pascal Valois set out to rediscover these manners of expression as they existed in the Germanic Romantic period. For this same reason, he used a replica of an 1830 Viennese guitar by luthier Johann Georg Stauffer (1778–1853).

Guitar music from the mid-19th century represents the swan song of “Guitaromanie,” (a 19th-century term from a collection of works by guitarist Charles de Marescot), and the period produced a wealth of musical treasures. In the 1840s, Hungarian guitar virtuoso Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806–1856) was at the height of his craft and pushing the limits of the instrument. In the Barden-Klänge (Bard Songs) collection, Op. 13, Mertz uses a profusion of expressive techniques to evoke the sound of the surf in a seaside cave (“Fingals-Höhle”), a singer’s vocalises (“Lied ohne Worte” and “An Malvina”), or the mood of an evening in the countryside (“Abendlied”). In his Hungarian Fantasy No. 1, Op. 65, Mertz perfectly illustrates the Hungarian style, a musical idiom that was all the rage in the mid-19th century. And it was Mertz himself who wrote the guitar arrangement for “Ständchen,” the famous Franz Schubert (1797–1828) lied featured on this album.

Swiss-born guitarist Giulio Regondi (1822–1872) never lived in Vienna, but the influence of Austrian and German composers on this child prodigy is undeniable. In his Rêverie, Op. 19, a technical tour de force for the guitar, he depicts the stages of a dream – from nightfall, to sleeping, to dreaming – in the purest Romantic musical tradition.

Daughter of the famous guitarist Mauro Giuliani, Emilia Giuliani Guglielmi (1813–1850) bequeathed us a formidable body of work that unquestionably merits inclusion in the repertoire of today’s guitarists. Her Six Preludes, Op. 46, were published in Vienna in 1840 and feature remarkably brilliant and imaginative writing.


The French magazine Guitare Classique called Pascal Valois’s playing “the Romantic guitar in all its splendor.” He is dedicated to reviving enthusiasm for the guitar scene during the Romantic era. He performs music from the 19th century on various period instruments and using period- appropriate ornamentation, stylistic practices, and improvisation. After graduating with honours from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal under Jean Vallières and receiving the Pierre J. Jeanniot award during his studies at Université du Québec à Montréal with Alvaro Pierri, Valois studied Romantic guitar with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and with David Starobin in New York City. He also earned a doctorate in performance practice from Université Laval. He has appeared as a soloist with many ensembles, among them Riga’s Ensemble Samsara
and Montreal’s Les Idées Heureuses. He has also given masterclasses in many institutions, including the Manhattan School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory, and the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Pascal Valois has received major Canadian bursaries for guitar performance (Canada Council for the Arts) and for musicology (FQRSC and SSHRC). He has also been awarded scholarships from the Desjardins Foundation, the Wilfrid-Pelletier Foundation, the Laval University Foundation, and the Université Laval Foundation.

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Pascal Valois

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Julia Maclaine - preludes