Where does one begin upon contemplating the vast discography of this master guitarist/lutenist? Well, why not let the artist himself guide you? Bream hand-picked his personal favorites for this 10-album collection, a limited-edition set featuring facsimile LPs with original cover artwork and labels as well as a greatly detailed booklet full of discography notes.
Julian Bream was born in London and brought up in a musical environment. His father played jazz guitar and the young Bream was impressed by hearing the playing of Django Reinhardt.
Bream began his lifelong association with the guitar by strumming along on a small gut-string Spanish guitar at a very young age to dance music on the radio. The president of the Philharmonic Society of Guitars, Dr Boris Perott, gave Bream lessons, while Bream's father became the society librarian, giving Bream access to a large collection of rare music.
The fluidity of his playing on this album is amazing. Each note falls in place at exactly the right moment. Besides the well-known J.S. Bach, he also introduces us to several other less-known Baroque composers: Gaspar Sanz, Fernando Sor, S.L. Weiss, & Robert de Visee. Too often, Baroque music is presented as just an exercise in counterpoint. In this album, the rhythm is matched to human emotions in such a way that it's not just an academic exercise. The music is both exhilarating and soothing.
Julian Bream is, without a doubt, one of the premiere classical guitarists of the modern recording era. Comparisons between great guitarists is often unfair and misleading as they each have their own styles - and each musician and his/her style tends to be particularly well suited to certain types of music. For example, Andres Segovia's style, cultivated by self-teaching throughout his now ended life, concentrated on flowing legatto smoothness and flowing melodies. Bream's, on the other hand, while equally masterful, is better characterized as emphasizing the precision and crispness of each and every individual note. What better composer to focus on to show this particular proclivity that J. S. Bach, whose work, having been written largely for the keyboards (harpsichord) but also for the lute and triple harp, tends to emphasize the kinds of music Bream excels at. Stacatto phrasings, each written to be played with crystalline exactness, are the types of pieces wherein Bream's magnificence is conspicuous and best showcased. Thus, the special relevance of this particular compilation of some of his best Bach work on this CD.
Julian Bream is one of the most famous classical guitarists of the twentieth century and he has achieved worldwide fame not only for the guitar but also for his work with the Renaissance Lute. He is considered to be one of the most important ambassadors of the classical guitar and has formed a solid bridge between the music of the past with the technology of today. He helped usher the classical guitar into the modern age.
Two of the classical guitar's brightest masters together for traditional as well as transcribed works from a number of different composers. Either of the guitarists at their peak (this was recorded in '71 and '78) would have been good enough to amaze you if you are a follower of the guitar and its traditional music, both of them together is something that must be heard. The recording is excellent (ADD - remastered, I believe, in '93) and the selection of music plays to their strengths as individual musicians. To hear these two rivals play together at the same time is enlightening. Essential.
This album is a delicious offering from one of the most underrated guitar maestros of all time. Not only does he capture the Samba-inspired passion of Villa-Lobos music (unlike Rodrigo, Villa-Lobos was an accomplished guitarist in his own right), but interprets it in a way that commands and maintains the attention.