Adagio by Mertz


My next piece is Adagio by Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856). The score I’m working from was arranged by Eythor Thorlaksson and is published in his free Guitar Moment II collection.

Although it’s shorter than previous pieces, there’s more of interest:

  1. Positions further up the neck. Most previous pieces stayed in first position. Now there are shifts to higher ones.
  2. Descending triplet passage. It can be tricky to get the timing of this right. A metronome can be useful. I use Google’s metronome.
  3. Double dots. I hadn’t come across these before. I see from Dolmetsch Music Theory and History Online that they add half the previous dot value.
  4. Damping with a barre.

Thorlaksson’s arrangement is slightly different from, say, this score, which, on evidence no stronger than the poorer quality of the print, I suppose is the original. Apart from fewer dynamic markings, though, Thorlaksson’s arrangement doesn’t look to be simplified in any way.

After looking over the score I searched for recordings. This seems to be a more popular piece, with quite a few videos of it on YouTube. I listened to a dozen or so and particularly liked this recording by Pamilearner. It’s interesting hearing different interpretations. Some performers roll chords, some don’t; some let notes ring out, others dampen them; and there is a wide range of dynamic variation.

In my own recording I’ve tried to remain true to the score I was working from, observing rests and dynamic markings, not arpeggiating chords, and so on. Yes, there’s a wrong note in the bass line just before the triplet passage, but I thought I’d leave it as it is instead of keeping on recording. There’s a tendency to record again and again until you have it free from mistakes. I’m trying to limit myself to only two or three takes.

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