Here are some notes about BWV 998 which was released before Christmas 2015. While the original key was Eb Major the usual key for the guitar is D Major. The fugue is very unusual in being in ternary from with a complete recapitulation of the opening section at the end of the piece. I have ornamented the reprise of the opening which I feel would be consistent with the practices of the time and with Bach’s own approach to performance. A point to note is that the fugue from the second lute suite which I have also recorded is itself in ternary from. The remaining Bach recordings should be available by the end of the month after a bit of a technical hold-up! This is a photograph taken by Mike Caldwell about the time of the recordings and intended for the promotional material supporting my Wigmore Hall (May 1985).
We have two Christmas albums to be released this Friday, 11th December. The first is Simon James plays a Catalan Christmas mostly taken from the album A Star For Christmas. The second is Christmas with Kymaera and Maria Ewing which includes the two album tracks we did with this great singer and a previously unreleased version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas recorded live at Ronnie Scotts when we were filming the DVD in December 2001.
Further to the ongoing project to digitally release my back catalogue I have had the 1985 recording Bach For Guitar re-mastered by Klaus Genuit at Hansahaus Studios in Bonn. The first recording to be released will be Prelude, Fugue and Allegro (BWV 998) on 13th November shortly followed by Violin Sonata No 1 (BWV 1001) transcribed form G Minor to A Minor by me and Lute Suite No 2 (BWV 997) in the usual guitar key of A Minor.
SICILIANA by J.S. Bach
LAGRIMA by F. Tarrega (Azahar 2007)
CANÇO DEL LLADRE trad. arr. by M. Llobet (Art Of The Spanish Guitar 2013)
DAYBREAK by Simon James (Daybreak 1983)
DREAM OF FAIR WOMEN featuring Shane Hill (James/Webb)(Into The Rainbow 2001)
A DIFFERENT CORNER featuring Shane Hill (George Michael)(The Music Of George Michael 1998)
NEPTUNE featuring Mark Lockheart (Mark Lockheart) )(Mandeville Place 2011)
DESERT ROSE featuring Greg Carmichael (James/Carmichael)(Into The Rainbow 2001)
MOTHERS PRIDE featuring the Bingham String Quartet (George Michael)(The Music Of George Michael 1998)
THE ROSE (Steve Baker)(Mandeville Place 2011)
‘Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two’, attributed to Fredric Chopin; my thoughts entirely.
During my postgraduate year at Trinity College Of Music apart from continuing my study of classical guitar I also did composition with David Newbold. He had taught me harmony and counterpoint throughout my graduate years so we had a good working acquaintance. On one occasion we shared an informal recital in a rather extraordinary private home in Clapham. where the owner was able to open up all his downstairs rooms whose walls were decorated with Italian frescos and create a small recital room. As we were rehearsing David Newbold turned to me and said something I never forgot ‘ of course it doesn’t matter what you play on a guitar it always sounds so beautiful,’ A sentiment which I understand was shared by Chopin and Berlioz. This collection of my recordings is about that; the beautiful sound of the guitar in many different contexts.
The first three tracks were recorded in Strawberry 2 Studios as a result of a TV show we did. The show was done live as a ‘Summer Special’ in Liverpool by Granada TV. The producer then asked us to do some recording with him in his studio – Strawberry 2 – in Stockport south of Manchester. We recorded these three tracks with a string section from the Halle Orchestra and a session bass player and drummer. Our TV producer provided a record producer who did the string arrangements and some unusual things with the inside of a piano on this version of Casino which he gave an African feel to. Nick borrowed some of the ideas for a later version of Casino released on the MCA album Natural Elements in 1987.
Conversation, A Tune For Phil comes from the original Acoustic Alchemy LP (1982). It was written by me for the jazz guitarist Phil Lee. When GRP released Early Alchemy in 1992 they didn’t include Conversation preferring to showcase my Flamenco skills on a shortened version of my piece Daybreak. Into the Rainbow is the last thing we wrote together in 1997 a few months before Nick’s untimely death. The track was for Antonio Carlos Jobim who died earlier that year. The title is taken from a song by Michael Franks which he wrote after meeting Jobim for the first time.
“We sing a song, forgotten for so long
and let the music flow, like light into the rainbow.”