Here’s a genuine rarity: Ferdinand Rebay (1878-1953) has been hitherto unknown outside a small circle of guitar connoiseurs, but that should change thanks to this attractive set of sonatas and dances, all receiving their first recordings at the hands of two talented young Italian musicians. Rebay was Viennese born and bred. In 1901 he entered the piano class of Joseph Hofmann at the Vienna Conservatory and studied composition with the eminent pedagogue Robert Fuchs, who counted Mahler, Wolf, Sibelius and von Zemlinsky among his students.
Four years later, when leaving the Conservatory with a distinction in composition, Rebay’s catalogue already numbered around 100 works, including a piano concerto dedicated to Prof. Hofmann. He continued to compose prolifically, mainly in the area of vocal music, producing around 100 choral works, 400 Lieder and two operas. After the Anschluss in 1938, Rebay lost his teaching positions as well as his pension and was reintegrated only in 1945, a few months before his definite retirement. Rebay’s interest in writing for the guitar was triggered by his niece, the guitarist Gerta Hammerschmid (1906-1985) and by her teacher, his friend and colleague at the Musikakademie, Jakob Ortner (1879-1959), who probably introduced him to the technical possibilities of the instrument. He died, almost forgotten, in Vienna in 1953.
Among Rebay’s most ambitious and important guitar works are the duos for guitar and a string or wind instrument. Substantial works, with a duration between 15 and 25 minutes, these duos have no match in the guitar repertoire; the Sonatas on this album are among their number, and complemented by stylish arrangements made by Rebay of several of Beethoven’s German Dances. The scarce original repertoire for clarinet and guitar, limited during the 19th century essentially to Heinrich Neumann’s six serenades is almost trebled by Rebay’s substantial contribution.