By D. J. McAdam.
I will admit freely to having a strong liking for classical guitar recordings,
a liking which existed long before I moved to the American southwest.
They're perfect for relaxing evenings at home, by oneself or in the company of
others. The recordings listed below are too good simply to be regarded as
"background music" - they stand up to, and deserve, close attention - but
many (not the concertos!) generally do work as something to play at a dinner or cocktail party as
If you've ever tried unsuccessfully to chat with friends over Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture or unwind after a stressful day at work to the gentle rhythms
of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, try
some of these as an alternative.
CD's are arranged by composer. Where there are a number of composers'
works on one CD, the CD is listed as a collection, toward the end of the list.
A special bonus with the CD's listed here - most are offered for sale at very
- The Art of Guitar
- Bach On Guitar. Andres Segovia, John Williams. Bescol label, made
in Korea. John Williams performs the Bach Suite No. 1 in G Major and Bach
Suite No. 3 in C Major. The second part of the disc is "A Bach Recital" by
Segovia - 27 minutes worth. You're thinking this is some cheap label you'd
be embarrassed to have in your CD collection, right? Actually, the quality
is not bad, and the Segovia section wasn't digitally recorded anyway.
Besides, one can never go wrong with Segovia or Williams. If you're
interested in this recording, see also The
Segovia Collection, below.
- Barrios (Agustίn Barrios, 1885-1944)
- From the Jungles of Paraguay - John Williams Plays
Barrios. Sony Classical. Barrios was indeed from Paraguay, although
he achieved fame only when he left his native land and toured first South and
Central America, and then Europe. As a performer, he was said to have the
skill of a Segovia and the flair of a Paganini. It took some time for
Barrios' own compositions to be dubbed "classical," but the term is a fluid one
anyway, so we need not read too much into that.
- Carulli (Ferdinando Carulli, 1770-1841)
- Music for Flute and Guitar. Jean-Pierre Rampal, flute; Alexandre Lagoya,
guitar; Franz List Chamber Orchestra. CBS Records Masterworks.
Recorded in 1985. Rampal was a mega-star when this was recorded.
Lagoya was not quite as well known, but very highly thought of. Luckily,
they decided to team up for this little-known work by a composer who is not
a household name.
- Paganini (Niccolò Paganini, 1782-1840)
- Duos for Violin and Guitar. Itzhak Perlman
and John Williams. CBS Records Masterworks. Includes Paganini's
Centone di Sonate (Op. 64, No 1), Sonata No. 6 in E Minor (Op. 3), Sonata
Concertata in A Major and Cantabile for Violin and Guitar. Also
includes Mauro Giuliani's (1781-1829) Sonata for Violin and Guitar.
Originally released in 1976.
- Paganini for Two / Gil Shaham, Göran Söllscher
- Rodrigo (Joaquίn Rodrigo)
- Rodrigo: Complete Concertos for Guitar and Harp
- Concierto de Aranjuez. Siegfried Behrend, Berlin Philharmonic.
Deutsche Grammophon Musikfest. Listen to classical guitar music for
anything more than two days, and it becomes impossible to avoid the Concierto
de Aranjuez - not that you'd want to. This is definitely not
background music for your next get-together, but it is unforgettable music.
When this piece premiered in Madrid, members of the
audience were so pleased that they marched the composer around the city streets
on their shoulders. This CD also includes Rodrigo's
Concierto Serenata para Arpa y Orquesta (harp and orchestra), and
Castelnuevo-Tedesco's Concerto in D, Op. 99.
- Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Canzoneta
- Rodrigo: Concerto Madrigal/Concerto Andaluz
- Villa-Lobos (Heitor Villa-Lobos, 1887-1959)
Classical Guitar Collections
- Ana Vidovic Guitar Recital. Music by Bach, Ponce, Tárrega, Šulek and William Walton. Naxos. Naxos has a whole Guitar Laureate Series, and this is one of the discs in the series. I'm guessing they're probably all good.
- Archguitar Renaissance. Peter Blanchette, archguitar. Dorian.
Blanchette thinks the term "archguitar" must have meant "big guitar." No
one's in a position to argue with him, and the album is quite enjoyable.
- Baroque Guitar
- Canco Del Lladre. Marc Regnier, Guitar. Musical Heritage Society.
Recorded in 1990. Music by Isaac Albeniz, Miquel Llobet, others.
Okay, granted, the black-and-white CD cover looks like it was produced on the
neighbor's kid's laser printer - but the music is good.
- Christopher Parkening - The Great Recordings ~ By America's Preeminent Guitar Virtuoso.
No false modesty exists, apparently, when it comes to choosing titles for
- Dances from Renaissance to Nutcracker. L.A. Guitar Quartet.
Delos. Actually, dances beyond Nutcracker, since there's an
(unnecessary) piece included by Peter Warlock. Warlock was born the year
after Tchaikovsky died, so I'm pretty sure his Capriol Suite postdates
Nutcracker. The rest of the CD is quite nice.
- Evening in Granada . L.A. Guitar Quartet, Delos. Music by Boccherini, Krouse, Falla, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov. One of LAGQ's best
discs, in my humble opinion.
- Five Centuries of Spanish Guitar Music. Alirio Diaz, Legacy
International. Okay, this really is a cheap label. I bought the CD
years ago in an Odd-Lot Store in Manhattan. It was a better buy than that
retro-50's necktie I also picked up.
- Golden Age of the Russian Guitar.
- Italian Nocturnes.
Performed by Duo Firenze / Dorian Discovery Label. Early Romantic Music
for Guitar & Fortepiano. Great selection.
- John Williams - The Great Guitar Concertos. CBS Records Masterworks. 2-CD set.
Major guitar concertos by Vivaldi, Rodrigo, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Villa-Lobos,
and Ponce. Major guitar player. What more can one say?
- Julian Bream - The Ultimate Guitar Collection
- The Segovia Collection. 4-CD set.
Deutsche Grammophon, 2002. Includes deluxe booklet. Made in Germany.
Segovia's legendary Decca recordings, digitally remastered. Disc 4
contains the Bach transcriptions. I sometimes find large CD sets
overwhelming, but this one is really well done and definitely worth adding to
your collection. Put simply, it would be hard for someone to claim to be a
Segovia fan and not have The Segovia Collection.
Recommended Classical Guitar Instruction:
- Pumping Nylon.
This is a book and DVD set, by Scott Tennant. According to the
publisher, "Scott Tennant, world-class classical guitarist and
well-respected guitar eduactor, has brought together the most
comprehensive technique handbook for the classical guitarist. In
addition to technical information not available elsewhere, he has
compiled selections from Giuliani's 120 Right-Hand Studies; musical
examples by Bach, Turina, Rodrigo and others; Tárrega arpeggio
studies; and original compositions by Andrew York and Brian Head."
Not Quite Classical Guitar (But still very interesting . . . )
Of Related Interest:
A reader was recently kind enough to write and to bring to our attention
the excellent performances of Duo 46 (or duo46, if you like), a
husband-and-wife team composed of guitarist Matt Gould and violinist Beth
Ilana Schneider-Gould; actually, the reader in question was Ms.
Schneider-Gould's proud father, and he has every reason to be proud of
having such an accomplished daughter and son-in-law. You can visit the
duo's website to learn
more about them, and you can also find some of their recordings listed on
Amazon. I've always been a great fan of guitar-and-violin music; the
sweetness of the violin is balanced and strengthened by the guitar, in much
the same way a sweet dessert is complemented by good coffee. Now I'm
also a fan, in particular, of Duo 46.
I have an office at work, but it's a fairly conservative place. I
didn't want to have anything too distracting playing in my office,
or anything others might find offensive, or anything that might give
others the wrong impression of me. (So, for instance, I wouldn't
want to put my player on random, only to have folks hear The
Lord Knows I'm Drinking followed by If I Said You Had a
Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?) Solo guitar music
was my solution, and works wonderfully in this setting.