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In my classical guitar book "Klassiker der Gitarre", edited by Martin Rätz, there is a piece which is attributed to Fernando Carulli. It has the title "Sonate" (Sonata) and the tempo Largo. No other information is given. The first few measures are like in the image.

The first five measures of the piece in question

Unfortunately neither I, my teacher, nor any of his colleagues were able to find this piece by Carulli in any other source, or any publicly available recording of this piece (YouTube, Spotify, etc).

Does someone know this piece and can confirm that it is indeed by Carulli (e.g., by giving an alternate source, opus, etc.)?

The main reason we want to find another reference is to obtain information about the tempo it should be played in. We are unsure because "Largo" implies slow tempo, and at the same time, there are a lot of fast notes in the piece. We currently interpret Largo as circa 50 eighths per minute, but we aren't certain whether the composer actually means 50 quarters per minute.

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    Just a brief note regarding the presence of fast notes in a slow tempo: this is not uncommon. It shows up frequently, for example, in Baroque preludes, which can be highly decorated (i.e., fast notes), but at an overall slow tempo. But it's not limited to Baroque music by any means, so should not be taken as contradicting the "Largo" indication. – Aaron Mar 2 at 19:33
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    Indeed. As always, durations are just relative: thirty-seconds are not "fast notes". – musicamante Mar 2 at 19:39
  • I found the sonata in IMSLP as 3rd Sonata by Ferdinand Carulli (it seems a variation on the name Fernando). The Largo is the first movement and then follows an Allegro. It's a photocopy from someone's old collection so it is not easy to read in places. IMSLP has it listed as from 3 Sonatines pour une Guitare ou Lyre, Op.7 – Jomiddnz Mar 2 at 20:54
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The piece is indeed by Carulli. It's his "Sonata #3" in A Major from 3 Sonatines pour une Guitare ou Lyre, Op.7. The score (for the complete collection) can be found on IMSLP.

The score is marked "Largo", as can be seen in the below screenshot.

Carulli Sonata in A Major, op 7, no 3, mm. 1-3


Regarding the "fast notes", here is another example from Carulli of a similarly notated slow movement. In this case, it is the second, "Largo", movement of his Sonata in A Major, Op. 21, No. 1. The piece comes from 3 Sonates pour Guitare ou Lyre, Op. 21.

Carulli Sonata in A Major, op 21, no 1, mvmt. 2, mm. 1-8

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I can't tell you whether Carulli really wrote it. However, I think that you're going for something you can't ever reach.

The main problem is that in Carulli's time and even long after that, there just wouldn't be any metronome marks in the music. (And even at the end of the 19th century, I think many composers just weren't using them.) For Carulli, just Largo must have been enough. (By the way, this is still not far from the Baroque period, and in that period composers often didn't write any tempo indication at all, not even anything like Largo or Allegro.)

So most likely nobody knows how fast Carulli would have liked it to be played, and even if you heard a recording on YouTube, you would only hear someone else's opinion on how fast it should be.

Furthermore, I would personally argue that the metronome marks are largely useless and so it's not worth it to pay them any heed. Remember, when you play the music, you take a part in it, and you shape it a bit to your taste. So Largo is actually an OK tempo indication — just take it slow. Some people would perhaps take it slower than you, some faster. Just do what seems right to you. You're a musician, not a machine.

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  • Thanks for your clearification! Yes, I know that the marks are not absolute, but I just like to hear some interpretations in order check how the piece works. – DosCoder Mar 2 at 21:01

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