Transcriptions an act of love from one composer to another


Bach did it. So did Mozart, and Beethoven. Ditto for Liszt and a long list of others who came before and after.

Did what, you ask?

Transcriptions. You know, when you take a piece of music and arrange it for a completely different instrument or set of instruments. Like the Vivaldi violin concertos that Bach transcribed for organ. Or five of the fugues from Book 2 of Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier" that Mozart transcribed for string quartet. Or Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge" ("Grand Fugue") for string quartet that he transcribed for piano duet. Or Beethoven's symphonies transcribed for piano by Liszt.

In the classical guitar world, transcriptions, particularly of works from the baroque era, are rather commonplace. Andrés Segovia, the so-called "grandfather of the classical guitar," often performed transcriptions of Bach's works, notably the "Chaconne" from the "Violin Partita no. 2" in his concerts.

Countless classical guitarists who've come after him have followed suit. One such is Rome-born guitarist-teacher Carlo Marchione who, this month, undertakes his first-ever Canadian tour, which includes a master-class ($10 fee for auditors) this Sunday, Oct. 25 from noon until 3 p.m. at Mohawk College, and a 7 p.m. recital for Guitar Hamilton at the Hamilton Conservatory.

Not surprisingly, Marchione's bill will include a number of his own transcriptions, two Scarlatti "Sonatas" and two Telemann "Fantasias," as well as a "Divertimento" ascribed to Haydn though transcribed by Francois de Fossa.

"As long as I remember I have had transcriptions around me, now after so many years I can say it's not because the guitar doesn't have an interesting repertoire, as I try just to demonstrate....

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