Duo Op.158 and Duets Op. 51
The effect which the duets of Ferdinando Carulli had upon the Parisian public of the early nineteenth century may still be felt today as this repertoire is newly discovered. The same instrumental forces continue to contribute to the aesthetic vitality of these works, in an interweaving of timbres which is fresh and surprising, natural and “rooted”, so to speak, in the intrinsic characteristics of the two instruments. Indeed, although the usual editorial practice might propose in this case, as with others, the possibility of substituting the flute with the violin (op. 51), the upper voice demonstrates without a doubt a strong idiomatic character. The way in which Carulli masters the potential of his instrument–the guitar–is extended to a certain degree to the other voice, as if the same melodic invention were modeled on the specific cantabile character of the flute. On the whole, the overcoming of a certain genericness was a decisive aspect in furthering an intent to ennoble popular music. It should not be forgotten that any musician of the time could have resorted to those immediate and universal means that history has subsequently labeled as “classical style”. Be that as it may, especially in the genres of entertainment, this communicative facileness always ran the risk of becoming stuck in a mold: the simple conversing in sounds, the “bon ton” of salon music, demanded an excessively rigid code. For this reason, it is all too easy to point out the presence of conventional elements in Carulli’s music as well: let it suffice to mention the extremely regular chains of antecedent and consequent, the principle of symmetry that organizes all the phrases. Nonetheless, this limit is tempered by a particularly melodic elegance and a purity of invention which can be defined, without exaggeration, as Mozartian.