88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant in many ways,
This review is from: Spanish Guitar Music (Audio CD)
'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.