“Robert Gruca presents a delightful collection of two suites and a sonata in excellent performances… performances are…very fine,,, I can’t find another recording of [the harpsichord suite], but with playing of this caliber, there’s no need to look further… Gruca…studied with John Holmquist and Jason Vieaux, and he has something of Vieaux’s warmth and invention. His tone is lovely, his pacing sure, his ornamentation tasteful and stylish. The music is lovely and underserved. This is rewarding.”
Keaton, American Record Guide [July/August 2013]
“[ * * * * * ] This disc of recycled delights is a pure joy… these arrangements are full, technically very much in the spirit of the originals, and sound crisp and resonant to the ear… American guitarist Robert Gruca is a brilliant player with gorgeous tone and a flawless sense of rhythm. I have rarely heard these works played with such finesse and understanding on either harpsichord or piano. There are not a lot of Handel albums for guitar so this one is doubly welcome, and MSR has captured the wonderful acoustics of St. Stanislaus’s church in Cleveland to perfection.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [June 2013]
“This lovely disc presents three chamber works of Händel… Robert Gruca plays with a firm but delicate touch, nicely communicating both the rhythmic vitality and the countrapuntal virtuosity of Händel’s writing, as well as the French influences in the suite no. 7. The arrangements themselves will be of particular interest to any library supporting a program in guitar pedagogy.”
Rick Anderson, CD HotList [May 2013]
“Robert Gruca’s craftsmanship is exposed in extreme detail. Thoughtful tempos are porous and secure, and the expression of Handel’s music is ethereally delightful. Following in the footsteps of Messieurs Russell and Kanengiser, Robert Gruca takes pause to add his own interpretation of the “Menuett” movement found in the first of two harpsichord transpositions. The benevolent diction captures the ear and pleases the soul… Both pensive and lyrical, Robert Gruca has a treasure on his hands.”
Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet [May 2013]
“expressive and stylish performances [from] the upcoming American artist Robert Gruca… Cheers for Robert Gruca! These are idiomatic performances in the best Handelian vein, filled with fire and nuance, plus the unmistakable energy and drive that Handel used as his signature to make an indelible mark on the music of his day (and beyond)… a program that makes us long to hear more of this guitarist.”
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [January 2013]
Arrangements by David Russell, William Kanengiser and Robert Gruca.
When GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL died in England at the age of seventy-four, three thousand mourners gathered at Westminster Abbey to mark his passing. In 1784, a group of Handel’s admirers commemorated the centenary of his birth (albeit one year early) with a grand performance of Handel’s work at Westminster Abbey, thus beginning a long tradition of yearly gatherings for performances to honor the man who was described by Beethoven as “the greatest composer that ever lived.”
Handel was born in Germany to a sixty-three year old barber-surgeon and his second wife. From an early age, Handel pursued music despite his father’s desire that his son enter into the more practical field of Civil Law. Handel’s early love of music is illustrated in stories of Handel sneaking a small clavichord into his attic room to play while his parents slept below, or a young Handel chasing his father’s carriage in order to accompany him to Weissenfels where the boy had free access to harpsichords and organs. It was the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels who, having overheard Handel playing the organ, ultimately succeeded in convincing Handel’s father to allow the boy to pursue his musical education.
During the course of his life, Handel traveled widely and was exposed to and instructed in the music of Italy, France, Germany and England. He ultimately settled in England becoming a naturalized English citizen in 1726 and remaining there until his death.
ROBERT GRUCA is a gifted guitarist who performs a wide range of solo, chamber and orchestral music from the classical guitar repertoire. An engaging performer who brings passion and artistry to his performances, Gruca has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.7 under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst, as well as Kurt Weill’s Little Threepenny Music, Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol under the baton of Pierre Boulez and Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings
Symphony with the composer conducting. Known for expressive and nuanced musical interpretations and an extraordinary technical command of the instrument, he has received numerous awards, including first prizes in the Columbus State Guitar Symposium Competition, Appalachian State Guitar Festival Competition and East Carolina University Guitar Festival Competition. Gruca received a Master of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with John Holmquist and Jason Vieaux. He has participated in master classes with numerous prominent guitarists, including David Russell, Sergio and Odair Assad and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Gruca released a CD in 2006 of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Dusan Bogdanovic, Roloand Dyens, Nakita Koshkins, Joaquín Rodrigo and Franz Schubert. www.robertgruca.com
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759)
SONATA IN A MINOR, OP.1, NO.4, HWV 362
Originally Recorder Sonata in A minor, Op.1/4 (1725/26)
SUITE NO.8 IN D MAJOR, HWV 441
Originally Harpsichord Suite No.8 in G major (1733)
Gavotte with Variations
SUITE NO.7 IN D MINOR, HWV 432
Originally Harpsichord Suite No.7 in G minor (1720)