Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856)
1. Fantaisie Hongroise (Trois Morceaux, Op. 65, No. 1)
2. Fantaisie Originale (Trois Morceaux, Op. 65, No. 2)
3. Le Gondolier (Trois Morceaux, Op. 65, No. 3)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
4. Ständchen (Schwanengesang, D957, No. 4)
Johann Kaspar Mertz
5. Romanze (Bardenklänge, Op. 13, No. 10)
6. Gondoliera (Bardenklänge, Op. 13, No. 4)
7. Lied ohne Worte (Bardenklänge, Op. 13, No. 11)
8. La Rimembranza
9. Der Leiermann (Winterreise, D911, No. 24)
Johann Kaspar Mertz
11. Nocturne (Op. 4, No. 1)
12. Aufenthalt (Schwanengesang, D957, No. 5)
title: VIENNA CONCERT
composers: Johann Kaspar MERTZ, Franz Schubert
instrument: Mirecourt guitar, about 1827, restored by luthier Bernhard Kresse
label: Soundset Recordings
catalogue number: SR1121
recording: at the Rockaway Studios, Castellón de la Plana, Spain, August 2020
producer and engineer: Javier Salvador Martin, JSM Guitar Records
cover photo: Head and tuning pegs of the Mirecourt guitar, by Marleen Peeters.
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About Raphaella's approach to Mertz:
“Raphaella Smits has not made any concessions in this recording. With her inquiring mind she has immersed herself in the spirit of the age and unveiled the guitar technical craft of the time. All works here are performed on an eight-string guitar, strung with gut strings.
Mertzian virtuosity is self-evident and is not an end in itself. With her playing she immerses the listener in the musical world of emotions of the first half of the nineteenth century. Raphaella Smits plays technically perfectly and with a flawless sense of the right style. This recording can be considered a benchmark for future performances of the works of Johann Kaspar Mertz.”
- Hein Sanderink, NL.
“Raphaella Smits has long been one of my favorite guitarists, with the perfect blend of style, virtuosity, and musicianship. Her inspired interpretations always captivate the listener, unfolding like the pages of a great novel that keep you clinging to every word.”
- Frank Koonce, USA.
“Raphaella Smits is a master at evoking moods and carries the listeners into a musical dimension whose beauty, genius and perfection border on the miraculous. Raphaella Smits is particularly fascinating by the intensity of her playing, which is permeated by an aura of perfection that only the great guitar soloists can achieve.”
- Bianca Flier, DE.
“The music itself is second to none: Mertz was a stunning composer, one of the few to carry the Romantic flag fully when writing his works. If somehow you have missed his music, Smits’ discs would be a good place to start.”
About the composers Mertz and Schubert:
“Johann Kaspar Mertz was a guitar virtuoso and composer from the first half of the nineteenth century and in every respect a child of his time. With the slightly older Schubert he not only shared the romantic style of writing, their personal lives also had parallels. Their genius was insufficiently recognised, setbacks and eventually illnesses overshadowed the few successes.”
“Circumstances will undoubtedly have influenced Mertz's state of mind, but the spirit of the times was the determining factor. ‘Weltschmerz', 'Sehnsucht', 'das Glück ist dort waar Du nicht bist', are, as it were, the keys that formed the starting point for composing. That is what connects Mertz and Schubert.”
- Hein Sanderink
“Mertz was a tall man, about 50, neither fat nor thin, very modest and with no hint of a pretense to greatness about him. As soon as it was feasible, I offered him my guitar and asked him to play something. He took it readily and immediately began to play. It was a fascinating large work.”
“By whom is this piece written?” I asked.
“By me”, was the answer. “It has not been published yet.”
“Then he played another piece, and still another, each one better than the last, all magnificent. I was dumbfounded with surprise and admiration. I felt like a Columbus discovering a new America, for here was the great guitar composer I had long given up hope of finding.”
- from The Memoirs of Makaroff