Guitar music

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by cookiemonster, Jun 30, 2003.

  1. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster

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    I'm a big fan of guitar music, and love to relax to some beautiful string plucking. I hope to expand my collection, but my vision is impaired beyond the likes of Segovia/Williams/Bream and the key works, Albeniz/rodrigo/torroba/de falla/turina/granados.

    Can you help me out with some suggestions for key discs of either the above mentioned which i may not have already, or more importantly, other performers/composers which i have not mentioned, and should be on my investigation list.

    Whilst we are on the subject, what are your thoughts on the guitar as a classical instrument? Many moons ago, i believe it was not generally held in high regard, is this still the case, or have the excellent performances of the above named performers now ingratiated the guitar with the classical community? And also were many of the works written by the aforementioned composers, intended for performance on guitar, or is this a modern transition and interpretation technique.

    Many thanks, and forgiveness for my amateurish approach to what may be simple questions.

    cheers
     
    cookiemonster, Jun 30, 2003
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  2. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    The guitar was made respectable on the concert platform again virtually single-handedly by Andres Segovia; he inspired a generation of guitarists, such as John Williams. It was a popular instrument in the 18th century and many concertos are written for it, but it fell out of favour in the 19th, whern the bigger orchestras simply blotted out its quiet voice.

    The most famous guitar concertos are those by Giuliani, and there are many recordings available. Vivaldi also wrote for the guitar, and ol' Antonio was ever tuneful. In addition, there are many Bach transcriptions for the guitar, which work well. If you like something really jolly, look out for the plucked instrument ensemble of Siegfried Behrend (hope that's spelled correctly). These are now old recordings, but they are available on mid- and low-price DG CDs and they sparkle with life.
     
    tones, Jul 1, 2003
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  3. cookiemonster

    BaronSamedi

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    I second tones' suggestion of trying some Vivaldi, such as the wonderfully lively Teldec disc with a number of his "Concerti for lute and mandolin" by Il Giardino Armonico.
     
    BaronSamedi, Jul 3, 2003
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  4. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    tones, Jul 3, 2003
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  5. cookiemonster

    GrahamN

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    I guess my experience is pretty similar to yours :cookie:, primarily Segovia (Lee actually saw him live - lucky bar-steward) and Bream. Segovia's playing of Bach arrangements is wonderful - but easily my favourite is Bream's double CD (The Ultimate Guitar Collection) from RCA. The first disc is some early lute, a Vivaldi lute concerto, then on to the hispanic stuff (particularly Albeniz's Suite Espanola and various pieces by Granados). In similar vein there's one of my favourite hispanics - Villa-Lobos. Bream's got a disc of his Concerto, Preludes and Etudes (although these latter do verge a bit more towards technique practice than pure music).

    That Vivaldi Double mandolin concerto is really fun - I have it as part of a 5 CD set by Pinnock/English Concert on Archiv.

    For renaissance lute there's I guess there's plenty worse places to start than Bream doing Dowland? (not that I have anything beyong that compliation)


    :yikes:



    (Just had a look on www.mdt.co.uk and they list over 30 CDs with music by Giuliani - and some including pieces by Beethoven, Diabelli, Boccherini - you learn something new every day)
     
    GrahamN, Jul 3, 2003
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  6. cookiemonster

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    As far as I know the guitar was one of many 'domestic' - house music making instruments during the baroque. There is even a painting by Vermeer of a girl playing the guitar; he also painted a girl playing the spinnet. (Totally off topic: and why not a girl playing the lute? Because the Dutch word for lute is very close to the vulgar word for vagina; so wheneber you find a lute in seventeen century Dutch painting there is a sexual connotation; the same with dogs).

    During the romantic era, all 'feeble voiced' instruments were subsituted for their more robust counterparts. Even strings iunderwent a severe modification in order to make them much louder.

    Hence, the guitar was left behind (together with the harpsichord, the dulcimer, the recorder and some other instruments). Nevertheless, the guitar had always been important in popular music in Spain. It is therefore no wonder that it was a Spaniard, Segovia that brought it to light (again OT: his hands were so large he had special guitars, with differently spaced strings built for him). There were others. I remember Narciso Yepes.

    This was possible because there was a lot of music that could be adapted to the guitar: simple keyboard pieces, all the lute repertoire and so on.

    Of course there is romantic music specially composed for the guitar (the most famous being Joaquin Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjuez).

    But perhaps you should try to get Yepes' performance of Bach's lute music. It is a very interesting introduction to Bach, and the guitar does it justice.

    Again slightly OT, if you like the guitar, you'll probably like the lute too. Now there is a very important tradition in English Elizabethan days of lute music, some of it really beautiful. Usually shortish pieces, but very taking. You might be interested in exploring that field. This is very good:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...91365/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_1_2/202-9901874-3876650

    They are also available separately. For instance:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...463/sr=1-15/ref=sr_1_0_15/202-9901874-3876650

    (don't pay attention to the negative review; it's plain nonsense).

    Hope that helped.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2003
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 4, 2003
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  7. cookiemonster

    BaronSamedi

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    :confused: :confused: :confused:
    Interesting - are you sure about this? AFAIK, the Dutch word for lute is "luit", which doesn't even remotely resemble the Dutch vulgar word for vagina...
     
    BaronSamedi, Jul 4, 2003
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  8. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I hope it wasn't late in Segovia's career, because he was pretty dire later on. However, being an institution by then, nobody said anything much. That had to wait for the old man's passing.
     
    tones, Jul 4, 2003
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  9. cookiemonster

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Monsieur le Baron:

    Very interesting!

    I'm merely stating what R.H. Fuchs said in Dutch Painting (Thames and Hudson, 1978), pp. 54. «The Dutch word luit can mean either [vagina or lute]. He gives, as a striking example, the quite unashamedly sexual and aluring painting The Procuress , by Honthorst.

    Perhaps the word «luit» had that meaning in the 17th century, and has lost it the course of time. But as I know nothing of Dutch, you make me doubt Fuch's interpretation. Mind you, he is Dutch himself...

    Any Dutch around? - Or are you Dutch, in which case perhaps find if Fuchs is right?

    Interesting (although completely OT) point. I'd like to be sure, because I've believed that to be true since I read the book, back in 1986!
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 4, 2003
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  10. cookiemonster

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Yes, Segovia got old and everyone tried to ignore the painful reality. People tended to praise Segovia but buy Julian Bream's records...
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 4, 2003
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  11. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    tones, Jul 4, 2003
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  12. cookiemonster

    GrahamN

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    I was about to say 'Surely you mean "Together" and "Together Again" - or were these just the titles of the CD reissues?' - but I see you've just changed it :)

    (and "Julian and Sandy" was a double act of a completely different cut :D e.g. here)
     
    GrahamN, Jul 4, 2003
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  13. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I have the LPs, Graham, and I was sure they were called "Julian and John" and "Julian and John II", or something like that (must look tonight). However, that could be just another result of the rapidly declining brain cells of an elderly gentleman - old enough to remember "Round the Horne" on the radio on Sundays!
     
    tones, Jul 4, 2003
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  14. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster

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    Wow, it was slow to pick up - i thought i was on my own with the classical guitar thing. But plenty of feedback now, thanks.

    Cheers for the site URL Tones - i will have a look at that and the one Graham referrd to also.

    I'd always imagined those Together (Again) CD's were along the lines of Best of Classical 2003/Classic FM Hall of Fame etc:D due to the somewhat 'cheesy' titles, and so gave them a wide berth without checking them out more closely - I've seen them lots of times, and they are readily available in the high st - but if Tones likes them, then surely they will be good enough for the likes of me - i shall investigate.

    And i will obviously have to check out some of the works of Vivaldi in this area of which i have none currently, and also some lute playing.

    Incidentally the dutch word for the 'vulgar' one is either the same as or 'schede' i believe. Maybe the 'luit' confusion is merely an archaic one?

    Thanks for the historical summary RDS - i enjoy the popular Joaquin Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjuez as well.


    Good stuff
    cheers
     
    cookiemonster, Jul 4, 2003
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  15. cookiemonster

    GrahamN

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    ..whereas I am only old enough to rememer the reissues (of both) :nuno:

    My copy of "Together" is actually an extended reissue 70 mins long (so is clearly more than 1 LP). Looking through my old (1990) Penguin, there it's listed as the original set from 1971 (England). The extra 22 mins (Faure's Dolly Suite and Granados "Oriental" ) is from 1978 (Symphony Hall Boston and Avery Fisher Hall NYC), and clearly from their "Live" double LP.

    And how come we're not had this one yet? :guitar:

    Or since we're talking about "Together" :guitar: :guitar:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2003
    GrahamN, Jul 4, 2003
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  16. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Careful!! Tones also likes Chet Atkins, and may therefore be a reliable guide only to what Tones likes!
     
    tones, Jul 4, 2003
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  17. cookiemonster

    HenryT

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    Another classical guitar fan here too! :cool:

    Was also going to mention the Williams/Bream "Together" albums. I've got the first one on vinyl, haven't got the second one yet. There's also a "Together Live" album which I've also picked up cheap second-hand, this is rather good too if you enjoyed the studio versions.

    If you're feeling a bit flush, then I guess you could splash out on this 5 CD boxset:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...835/sr=1-15/ref=sr_1_0_15/026-6225602-1890835

    The recordings are a bit patch, some are good and others are average but quite hissy because they're old analog recordings from DG's archive. This Yepes guy seems rather good. All the old favourites are there plus a few more obscure ones.

    Graham's Archiv boxset is probably a better bet I should imagine, do you have the catalog number there Graham?

    Another guitar CD in my collection which I discovered from owning an RCA Test is a guitar trio version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons :eek:. Quite interesting. Some of the arrangements work, and other don't quite - you can't bow a guitar so some of the movements don't quite have the pace or flow of the original, but still a fun alternative to get a listen to. It's the Amsterdam Guitar Trio on RCA, which I imported from Amazon in the US as they don't have it here in the UK. I'll dig out a catalog number if required.

    :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2003
    HenryT, Jul 4, 2003
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  18. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Consider also this one

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t..._1_5/102-7473114-4896910?v=glance&s=classical

    The Concierto Andaluz was written by Rodrigo for the Romero family and first recorded by them with a US orchestra in the 1970s (I have the vinyl). The older version seems to have been deleted, and this appears to be a recording of a modified version. With Nev and the ASMF in the saddle, how can it fail?
     
    tones, Jul 4, 2003
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  19. cookiemonster

    titian

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    I like very much guitar music especially when played by the interpreters mentioned above (Bream, Yepes, Williams and why not Los Romeros).
    The guitar is an instrument, which impresses me because of the variety of sound it can produce depending on the technique used. The low ends have a different characteristic as the high. It seems to me there are many harmonics, which are involved in the sound of the guitar and they give me a special feeling. Also the development of the guitar during the many centuries is much greater than in other instruments. In the 16th century there was the four-course guitar, initiated by Mudarra's Tres libros and Melchiore de Barberiis. The five-course guitar appeared in the first half of the 16th century but there was no printed music for the earlier ones. The baroque guitar was musically overshadowed by the lute. The early six single strings guitar appeared in the end of the 18th century. There were no standard approach for playing the guitar but slowly things changed: for example the right hand supported on the table, Right hand finger movement confined mainly to the thumb and first 2 fingers, usage of fingernails,….

    The main virtuosi at that time were living in Paris (Sor, Carulli, Carcassi,..).
    The most important Italian guitarist was at that time Giuliani .

    In the 19th century the guitar was more developed, mainly by Torres. The overall size of the instrument was increased. The latest improvement in tone production was the usage of nylon instead of gut string. Tarrega was the intiator of the development of the modern playing technique. He freed the right hand, and the usage of the apoyando stroke. The usage of the fingernails remained though a personal choice.

    There is lots of music for guitar recorded on both vinyl and Cd. For baroque music I feel that the timbre of the Lute sounds better. I have the same feeling when I hear the difference between cembalo and the piano for baroque music.
    Nevertheless the interpretations of Yepes, Bream and Williams playing Bach are just wonderful.

    Vivaldi's guitar concerts mentioned in this thread were originally written for lute or mandolins. They are certainly worth a try but I would also buy the concerts in their original form (solo instrument). Not only did Giuliani write 3 wonderful guitar concerts but numerous of wonderful solo pieces, mainly variations. Boccherini has written very nice quintets for string quartett and guitar. If somebody likes chamber music and guitar these quintets are very interesting. Paganini left for a while the violon and dedicated himself to the guitar. His output totaled 140 small pieces for solo guitar, 28 duets with violin, 4 trios and 15 quartets with guitar. His sonatas op 2 and 3 for guitar accompanied by a violin were recorded by Telefunken,
    Fernando Sor, Diabelli and Carulli wrote no concerts but “only†solo music for guitar. For a guitar fan these composers are a must!
    Coming into the modern guitar music there is much more of a choice because the charme of the modern guitar (Torres) invaded most of the countries.
    The major impulse came from Spain with compositions from Tarrega, Rodrigo (several guitar concerts and solo pieces), Bacarisse (great Concertino para guitarra y orquesta op72), Turina, De Falla, Torroba, Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Concerto for 2 guitars, quintets and solo works) and the transcriptions of works from Albeniz, Granados.
    Segovia's influence spread to South America with composers like Ponce, Villa-Lobos (!), Barrios.
    In rest of Europe there are lots of composers, which wrote pieces for guitar: Martin, Henze, Petrassi, Milhaud, Poulenc.
    In England, where the leading performers are Bream and Williams the guitar became established in colleges only in the 60ies but the composers resident in England have made a significant contribution to the repertory: Arnold, Dodgson, Andre Previn and Britten.

    Interpreters:
    Narciso Yepes is particular for the fact that he plays on a ten single string guitar because he claims greater resonance, the ability to play more accurate transcriptions, and a greater attraction for composers because of its extended range. His interpretations are IMO very romantic, sweet in a certain sense with lot of vibratos.

    Julian Bream is my favourite guitar player. His interpretations struck me for their deepness. I would nearly say his interpretations are the most “intellectual†of all others but there is still lots of feeling.

    John Williams is for me something like the technician of the guitar. His sound is not so soft as Yepes or Bream but he varies quite a lot. He uses sometimes the fingernails. IMO his interpretations are positively quite extrovert.

    Because of the diversity of sound produced by the two guitarists (nearly opposite), the combination Bream- Williams is something just divine, sublime. What these two guitarists can perform together is just something out of this world. It is a pity that they didn't record or made many concerts together. In their interpretations you can hear their happiness, and enjoyment to play with each other. They just leave their feelings go…
    There recordings include:
    - Together (in the USA: Julian & John)
    - Back Together (in the USA: Julian & John 2)
    - Live (2 LP)

    The Romeros is a spanish family of guitarists which IMO their interpretation tend to go in direction of flamenco. There is very much of the Spanish “temperamento†and this can have its positive aspects but also negative. Anyway they are great virtuosi.
     
    titian, Jul 4, 2003
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  20. cookiemonster

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Welcome to ZeroGain, Titian. I think you will find it a nice civilized place.

    Great post on the guitar, by the way.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 5, 2003
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