Duo Ghiribizzo - J.K.Mertz, guitar
Since we founded Duo Ghiribizzo in 1998, and decided to dedicate ourselves to 19th century music using original instruments from the romantic era - J.K. Mertz has always been one our favourite composers. Mertz has a special place in our repertoire and in our hearts, because his compositions for guitar duo demonstrate that he paid more attention to poetry and inmost introspection than to instrumental virtuosity for its own sake.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of our activities, we have decided to fulfil a desire we have cherished for some time, taking the opportunity to produce this recording, in which we have chosen to play 16 out of the 21 currently known compositions for duo, directing our attention only at original and complete works.
J.K. Mertz is a very important figure in romantic guitar music and hence it is surprising that there are so many doubts and discrepancies as regards basic information concerning his life and biographical details, starting with his name. The initials “J” and “K”, with which the composer signed his works, have given rise to numerous different interpretations: one often finds Johann Kaspar, but one can also see Jan Kaspar, Caspar Joseph, Joseph Kaspar, János Gáspár. We have chosen to use the initials with which he signed his own compositions.
Mertz's nationality also varies according to the source: some consider him to have been Austrian, some Hungarian and others Slovakian or German; what is certain is that he was born in 1806 in Pressburg (now Bratislava in Slovakia), a city which in those days was part of the Hungarian kingdom. At the time Hungary was a multicultural country including different ethnic populations: for example 75 per cent of the population in Pressburg – a frontier city 65 kilometres from Vienna – belonged to the German ethnic group, while in the centre of the city, where the composer's family lived, this percentage went up to as much as 100 per cent.
In 1840 Mertz moved to Vienna, determined to give a boost to his career. Here he obtained the success he desired and began a series of concert tours that took him to Prussia, Bohemia, Moravia and Russia. In Dresden in 1842 he met Josephine Plantin, a concert pianist. They married in Prague in the same year and continued their musical careers, also performing together. In subsequent years their lives were marked by ups and downs depending on the troubled historic period and the poor state of health of the composer. In 1846 Mertz was diagnosed with neuralgia and prescribed a course of treatment based on strychnine. His wife was not familiar with the medicine and gave him an excessive dose, which almost killed him. Mertz recovered, but the subsequent convalescence was long and his health was compromised, to the extent that on several occasions he was obliged to stay in sanatoriums.
In 1848 Mertz succeeded in returning to his life as a concert musician and teacher but this time it was political events that were to deal another heavy blow to his career. However, J.K. Mertz continued his activities until 1856, when he died in Vienna.
© 2010 - Paola Minussi – Joachim Geissler
translation - Globo Studio
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the guitar was the “child prodigy” of the musical scene. With its combination of brilliant agility, melancholy and vibrancy, it was the perfect interpreter of the Romantic spirit, and Niccolò Paganini himself mastered its techniques and composed various pieces for this instrument, giving them the name Ghiribizzi.
Today, our Ghiribizzo will revive the magic of those forgotten times and give a voice to the instruments, which were the real protagonists, not merely through their renovation, as exhibits of a frozen past, but their reinvention in the light of a modern sensibility.
Paola Minussi met Joachim Geissler in 1995, their shared passion for the Romantic period and historical studies meant they could bring together their varied experiences and found the Ghiribizzo Duo, dedicated to the research and interpretation of the nineteenth century guitar repertory, as played on original period instruments.
Since their recording debut in 2001 with the compact disc Ghiribizzi – distributed by Il “Fronimo”, the influential Italian music magazine – the duo has received unanimous acclaim from critics and public alike. The second recording Duos Concertans pour deux Guitares is published in January 2004 by the italian label Phoenix Classics.
As a tribute to their careers to date and their unstinting musical labours the Ghiribizzo Duo has become an authoritative point of reference in the study and interpretation of guitar duos in nineteenth century music, and is invited to give recitals and master classes all over the world. Paola Minussi is guitar teacher at the Musikakademie der Stadt Basel, Switzerland. Joachim Geissler is guitar teacher at the Musikschule der Stadt Luzern, Switzerland.
Paola Minussi plays a French-style guitar by Armin Gropp (Markneukirchen, Germany), copy of an instrument of around 1820, and a Terz-guitar by Bernhard Kresse (Cologne, Germany), from a model by Johann Georg Staufer.
Joachim Geissler plays a Viennese eight-string guitar by Bernhard Kresse, copy of an instrument by Nikolaus Georg Ries from 1840, and a Terz-guitar by Bernhard Kresse (Cologne, Germany), from a model by Johann Georg Staufer.
recorded in Milan, 8 April 2008
cover: painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting Die Stickerin, 1817
Label:- LIRA ANTIQUA
Catalog: N° LA CD 052007
Executive production by Massimo Monti,
Musicisti Associati Produzioni M.A.P.
Year of production 2010
Album Price: € 10,99
Physical Album Price: € 12,99