‘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 Bach Siciliana is taken from my 1984 recordings of his music, even Johann Sebastian could be lyrical at the right moment. Lagrima is from ‘Azahar’ recorded in 2007. Francisco Tarrega was the great classical guitarist and composer of the second half of the 19th century; without him there would have been no Segovia and no modern classical guitar. Miguel Llobet was Tarrega’s pupil and his settings of Catalan folk songs, from which this is taken, have become standard repertoire. This recording was made in 2010 by Mark Rogers who also recorded ‘Azahar’. Daybreak is my own composition in the flamenco tradition and was the title piece of my 1983 recording. A condensed version was included on ‘Early Alchemy’ (GRP 1992) replacing Conversation, A Tune For Phil which is now also available for download. Dream Of Fair Women was written by myself and Nick Webb, with whom I founded Acoustic Alchemy, for a recital series given by the British actress Sylvia Syms. This version was recorded by Kymaera in 2000. A Different Corner and Mother’s Pride are both from Kymaera’s recordings of George Michael’s music. We were asked to do this by his publisher Dick Leahy in 1997 and these are two of my favourite arrangements from that album, especially Mother’s Pride. I was determined to use a real string quartet not just session string players as there is a considerable difference in sound. I had worked with the Bingham Quartet before and recorded with their cellist James Halsey. The string arrangements were all done by me and this track is for me the most successful of those arrangements. Neptune was written by the saxophonist Mark Lockheart, we were both at Trinity College Of Music, and have worked together a number of times over the years. This piece of his was written with guitar in mind and the entry of the soprano saxophone half way through is really beautiful. Finally two purely guitar duets; the first Desert Rose was written for the album Into The Rainbow with Greg Carmichael from the present day Acoustic Alchemy. Although we’ve worked together from time to time over the years since I left Alchemy this is the only piece we’ve written and the only time we’ve recorded together. The Rose is a favourite of mine written by my friend and colleague Steve Baker who ran my little studio for a while in the 1990s both guitar parts are played by me.