LUIGI LEGNANIMusic for Flute and Guitar
Annette Heim, flute
Bret Heim, guitar
“Flutist Annette Heim and guitarist Bret Heim play marvelously. I am especially taken with Bret’s clarity in difficult passages and the small touches of vibrato placed here and there on notes that otherwise might go neglected. Like Legnani, Bret Heim is also a professional violinist. The sound is close and resonant.”
Gorman, American Record Guide [January/February 2013]
“Annette and Brett Heim constitute the Heim Duo… Both of them play extremely well… In the Gran Duetto…Annette Heim plays it with wonderful fluency… [In] the Grand Fantasy...I can luxuriate in guitar heaven… the Heim Duo’s [renditions of the Verdi] are truly exquisite… the sound quality is good… this is an excellent recording.”
Maria Nockin, Fanfare [November/December 2012]
PROGRAM NOTESGuitar virtuoso Luigi Legnani was born 7 November 1790 to Giuseppe and Rosa Bassi Legnani in
Ravenna, Italy. He was baptized Luigi Rinaldo Legnani on 11 November in honor of his godfather,
Rinaldo Rinani. At age nine, he began music studies in the family home. Legnani showed an affinity for playing the violin and other string instruments. He also showed promise as a singer and guitarist. No record has surfaced of formal training on the guitar, but it seems reasonable that Legnani was acquainted with Ferdinando Carulli’s Methode Complete—the principal teaching work for generations of European guitarists.
Although Legnani’s aspirations as a guitarist would eventually take him to Vienna, his artistic career began as a tenor singer at the Teatro Comunitativo of Ravenna where he was cast in productions of operas by Rossini, Pacini, and Donizetti. Years later, Legnani returned to the Teatro as its principal violinist.
Establishing himself as a concert guitarist required that Legnani perform in the principal cities of
Europe, Vienna and Paris in particular, where Mauro Giuliani and Fernando Sor were second to none. In 1822, at age 31, Legnani was ready to seek fame in Vienna. The greatest living guitar virtuoso, Mauro Giuliani, had left the city for good in the summer of 1819, and, like so many guitarists, it was Legnani’s ambition to take up where he left off.
But Austrian fears of revolution in north Italian provinces posed risks for people passing through
Austrian-held territory. The Papal Nuncio provided for Legnani’s safe passage, promising future
consideration for any who provided him direct assistance or financial support. From his passport we
learn that Legnani possessed “brown eyes and hair, a regular nose and mouth, oval face, good build.” His profession: “Master of the guitar and voice.”
Legnani immediately made his mark as both guitarist and singer. Knowing that songs with guitar
accompaniment were a particular Viennese favorite, his programs began with arias from popular
Italian operas. Critics writing in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung between October 1822 and
February 1823 found him an able singer. “Legnani sang with the tasteful and innate loveliness of his
Italian homeland” with “a tenderness and emotion that tore our hearts.” Feats of dazzling virtuosity on the guitar came later in his concert programs, and the Viennese critics were impressed:
“With unbelievable ease and precision he humbled double-stops, octave scales, trills, etc. . . . He captivated all his listeners with his amazing technique . . . His playing points out once again that, in the hands of a great virtuoso, this lonely and unappreciated instrument is capable of producing a great effect.”
Legnani returned to Vienna in 1833 and again in 1839. Influential music critic Edouard Hanslick
would write: “from the time of Giuliani’s death (1829), the guitar has been an orphan. It has found
a new, elegant virtuoso in Luigi Legnani.” Legnani’s aspirations of inheriting Giuliani’s mantle
appear to have been fulfilled.
MUSIC FOR FLUTE AND GUITAR
The combination of flute and guitar was extremely popular in the early nineteenth century. The
composers Carulli, von Call, Kuhlau, Diabelli, and Giuliani all obliged a hungry audience of amateur
players, composing hundreds of potpourris, dances, opera arrangements, sonatinas, etc., for private
music making in the home. Their large-scale works requiring virtuoso technique and sophisticated
interpretive skills were intended for public performance by professional players. Legnani’s 1822 and
1837 compositions, Op. 23 and Op. 87, are the culmination of the latter.
Virtuosity was an indispensable element of the music for performers like Legnani. But, when compared to many of his solo guitar works, Legnani’s flute and guitar duets possess seriousness and substance that suggests other agents at work. The two Grand Duets embody the sum of Legnani’s musical sensibilities—those of an opera singer, orchestral violinist, guitarist, and composer.
We are players of modern instruments but strive to engage historical performance practices to the
fullest extent practicable. The flute, for example, employs “sensitive notes” as discussed by Nicolas
Drouet at several points across the project. Slurs and other articulation marks are generally sparse
in Legnani’s flute parts, so parts from works by a variety of nineteenth century flutists served as models here. Historic flute tutors and guitar methods inform many tonal and technical decisions.
Conversations with players of period instruments (and builders of replicas) helped solidify certain
conceptual aspects, including the execution of passages written for a guitar of 22 frets in Op.87.
Coaching with singers and conductors of 19th century Italian opera, as well as the Italian texts of
arias by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi themselves, was invaluable in so many ways—who
knew that one could play the flute and guitar in Italian?! Even audience gossip from 19th century
magazines like the Gazette des Salons and Salon Musicale helped shape the performances.
The HEIM DUO has been featured on the internationally syndicated program Classical Guitar
Alive, most recently in selections from their 2009 recording featuring chamber music by American
composer Robert Baksa. Pan Magazine of the British Flute Society called their performance of
Baksa’s Celestials “a dazzling performance of a dazzling work!” The Duo was invited to perform at
the 2004 National Flute Association Convention in San Diego in music of Bulgarian composer Atanas Ourkouzounov, and presented a series of concerts of British and American works in London and the surrounding area in summer of 2006. Their performance of Legnani’s Duetto Concertante at the National Czech and Slovak Museum was very well-received.
Annette Heim holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied with Robert Cole. She also studied with Tom Perrazoli and Max Schoenfeld, and has performed in master classes with Paula Robison and Eugenia Zuckerman. Annette Heim is currently a flutist with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra in Alabama.
Bret Heim holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Arizona where he studied with Thomas Patterson. Heim also studied with Andrew Schulman, and has performed in master classes for Christopher Parkening, Eliot Fisk, David Leisner and David Tanenbaum. He has
performed concertos of Rodrigo, Brouwer, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Giuliani with orchestras across the United States. Bret Heim is also a violinist with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and Mobile Opera.
PROGRAMLUIGI LEGNANI (1790-1877)
GRAN DUETTO, OP.87 (1837)
II. Largo cantabile
GRANDE FANTASIA for solo guitar, OP.61 (c. 1833-1834)
CAVATINA D’ELVIRA from VERDI’S ERNANI (1846)
Ernani! Ernani! involami
Quante d’Iberia giovani
Tutto sprezzo, che d’Ernani
CAVATINA D’ERNANI from VERDI’S ERNANI (1846)
Come rugiada al cespite
O tu, che l’alma adora
DUETTO CONCERTANTE, OP.23 (c. 1822)
I. Allegro maestoso
III. Allegro scherzoso