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4.6 out of 5 stars
Spanish Guitar Music
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149 of 154 people found the following review helpful
A treat for the solo guitar enthusiast, this is a sparkling collection of Spanish classics, full of drama and passion, played to perfection by John Williams. His technique is dazzling, with a purity and clarity even in the fast and fiery parts, and never a squishy note to be heard.
The music takes us back to the mid 16th century with Alonso Mudarra's "Fantasia", which is short and charming, as well as another early composer, Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710), with his "Canarios", up to many 20th century masters like de Falla, Torroba, and the only non-Spaniard represented, the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Favorites include Albeniz' "Cordoba", which has a marvelous "rasqueado", and the familiar but exciting "The Miller's Dance" by de Falla, but every track is impressive on this CD, as well as entertaining, something solo guitar music occasionally fails to be.
Having been reared by a mother who loved her guitar almost as much as her children, I have heard these pieces played often and by many great artists, but never better, or more enjoyably. This is a compilation that consists of previously released material, some from the 70's and 80's, and the sound throughout is excellent.
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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
'The guitar is a genuinely Spanish instrument,' writes Uwe Kraemer, and it (along with the classical music for it) is one of the great gifts of Spanish culture to the world. The period of composition for guitar in Spanish culture began in the 1500s, and has never really faded. Guitarist John Williams (not to be confused with the composer of the Star Wars themes) is a master of this instrument, and has selected a repertoire of pieces spanning all four centuries of the instrument.
This is a solo album - all of the pieces here are arranged for single guitar. Some of the music is distinctively Spanish, while others bear a Catalan and Portuguese influence. Few of the composers on this album are well-known names in the Northern-European culture, but in the Latin culture, these are names that are known, and the music even more so.
From the earliest century of guitar music, composers such as Gaspar Sanz and Alonso Mudarra show the origins of this kind of work, which includes dissonances that occasionally sound like modern composition. There are pieces with lively spirit and power, inspiring dance in a more popular mode.
Mateo Albeniz has only one surviving composition; a church organist in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century, he was influenced by Scarlatti and wrote for the harpischord - Williams has transcribed the piece for guitar here.
From the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, many composers were productive: Isaac Albeniz, Julio Sagreras, Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados, Francisco Tarrega, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Joaquin Turina. Some like de Falla were very influenced by traditional Spanish stories and musical themes, whereas others like Granados drew inspiration from the broader aspects of European musical tradition. Villa-Lobos shows the transportation of Spanish music into the new world, becoming a noted name in Brazilian music (which, ironically, is the only major South American country without Spanish as its primary language).
Joaquin Rodrigo and Frederico Moreno Torroba represent composers in this grand style up to the present day.
John Williams' playing is technically sound and has flashes of emotional power and inspiration. Many pieces here are wonderful, but 'The Miller's Dance', the 'Fandango' and the Villa-Lobos 'Prelude No. 4 in E minor' stand out as the greatest of tracks here, being nothing short of brilliant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The title of this CD "Spanish Guitar Music" has been widely used before and even this album has appeared many times through re issue, but it is the perfect title. This is a good introduction to the beauty, passion and atmosphere that is Spanish Guitar Music. True, the pieces are mostly familiar and for some long time fans of Spanish Guitar Music it does not break new ground. But it does have some of the best pieces and composers to represent this genre of Guitar music.
This album has strong merit not only for its great repetoire of compositional choices but for its performance and sound. The sound is excellent. Williams has been famous for a "sqeaky clean" technique. This recording is no exception with little polution of mechanical noise in the performance. Instead every note is strongly defined.
There has never been recordings of the Works of Granados like those on this release. These piano pieces sound magnificent in the hands of Williams. El Testamen de Amelia, a Traditional Catalan Folk song is beautiful. The opening Asturias and Tango by Issac Albeniz (transcribed by Segovia) is performed with seaming ease. The other Traditional catalan folk pieces La nit de nadal and El noy de la mare arranged by Miguel. Llobet are enchanting and there is a wonderful interpretation of the excerpts from The three cornered hat by Manuel de Falla. And Williams gives a great performance of Homenaje by the same Andalusian composer.

All of the compositions and performances on this release are outstanding and this is an excellent collection of Spanish Guitar Music. There a is great atmosphere of spain and the whole project is very entertaining.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2008
Bought this album as an introduction to spanish guitar music, i would advise anybody even half interested in this type of music to buy it.Its not the kind of music i usually buy, but you have to admire the talent of JOHN WILLIAMS.Buy it now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2009
I've chilled out to this many an evening. Would buy more similar CD's to this. A fab cheap addition to ones music collection and a good intro into guitar music
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on 29 May 2013
Some really good old favourites & some tracks I've never heard before. couple of the tracks have a degree of hiss in the background, but hey for that price what do you expect? Good easy listening.
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on 5 January 2012
This will not disappoint. If you are looking for some expertly played classical guitar music then this is the album for you. Great value for money considering the number of tracks you get too.
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on 22 June 2013
I had a similar collection on cassette many years ago but I lent it to someone and never got it back. I looked for a replacement for years but never found one so I was delighted to find this.
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on 28 September 2013
As always superb playing by John Williams
Nice easy listening , sometimes some of the classical guitar cds can be a bit heavy to listen to.
This cd is great value ,great music
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on 17 December 2013
John Williams, as usual, superb guitarist. The album was a good mix of exciting and relaxing music, if you like the sound of the spanish guitar then this is a definite buy
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