10 top Generation-X classical guitarists

As promised, here is a list of 10 top Generation-X classical guitarists aged between 40 and 55.

I have avoided using the word ‘best’ when referring to this list because of how different folk understand this ascription. Some comments to previous posts are; “there is no ‘best’, just opinions”, and “the best players are those who embrace the ‘new’ compositions”, and “No way! Eliot Fisk is the best because of his innovation and energy”. I guess we could have a shot at determining who the best players are by adopting a comprehensive set of criteria and an impartial assessment methodology, but what’s the point? Certainly, my reason for compiling these lists is to provide reference points, learning opportunities, and listening pleasure.

In the 3rd and final post in this series, I intend to feature another 10 fabulous players 35 years old and under.

Xuefei Yang (41 years old)

http://www.xuefeiyang.com

Manhã de Carnaval by Luiz Bonfá

 

Graham Anthony Devine (47 years old)

www.grahamanthonydevine.com/

Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie

 

Galina Vale (38 years old)

www.galinavale.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj4jve_D4n0

Embedding disabled on youtube – click on above link to access the video.

Russian gypsy song “Otchi chornie”

 

Gorge Caballero (41 years old)

https://www.jorgecaballeroguitar.com/

Capriccio Espagnol by Rimsky Korsakov

 

Paul Galbraith (54 years old)

www.paul-galbraith.com/

Bajo La Palmera by Albeniz

 

Margarita Escarpa (53 years old)

http://www.volterraguitar.org/bio-margarita-escarpa.html

F. TÁRREGA (1852-1909): “Endecha”, “Oremus”, “Capricho Árabe”

 

Paulo Martelli (52 years old)

https://www.facebook.com/martelliguitar/

Remembrance by Sergio Assad

 

Matthew McAllister (? Years old)

www.matthewmcallister.com/

Scottish Lute Pieces

 

Amanda Cook (? Years old)

www.amandacook.co.uk/wordpress/

Zalopojka from Balkan Miniatures by Bogdanović

 

Craig Ogden (? Years old)

www.craigogden.com/

Prelude to Lute Suite no.4 BWV.1006a by Bach

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‘Best’ living classical guitarist

My last post featured John Williams, and although many commented favourably, there were one or two critical of John’s virtuosity. When I searched the threads in the Delcamp forum,  I soon realised that there are as many opinions on the ‘best’ living classical guitarist as there are on what constitutes ‘best’.

The criteria for judging ‘best’ appear to fall into four categories: musicality, technique, tone production, and emotional impact. However, what interested me more was the sheer number of CG players listed among the top three picks… 38 in total!

So, I have compiled a list of just the top 10 candidates. I have done this as a basis for further research, learning, and listening pleasure. I have arranged the list based on the number of different people identifying them as part of the top three living players. Of course, the list is not meant as any sort of definitive ranking, but rather as an inspiration for run-of-the-mill classical guitarists like me. Along with each name are links to their websites and a video of them playing.

Of the 10 maestros listed, seven are over 60 years of age, and so the fear for many is that the era of classical guitar greats is passing. Not so! In my next post, I intend to highlight 10 great players between 40 and 55 years old. Then in a 3rd post I intend to feature another 10 fabulous players 35 years old and under. The future of the classical guitar looks bright to me!

1.  Julian Bream (84 years old)

http://www.julianbreamguitar.com/

Grand Solo by Fernando Sor

2.  David Russell (64 years old)

http://www.davidrussellguitar.com/

Choro No 1 by Villa-Lobos

3.  John Williams (76 years old)

http://www.johnwilliamsguitarnotes.com/

Sevilla by Albeniz

4.  Ana Vidovic (37 years old)

http://www.anavidovic.com/

La Catedral by Barrios Mangore

5.  Marcin Dylla (41 years old)

http://www.marcindylla.com/

la Alborada by Francisco Tárrega

6.  Jason Vieaux (44 years old)

https://www.jasonvieaux.com/

Bach: Lute Suite No. 3 in E minor, BWV 996

7.  Manuel Barrueco (65 years old)

http://www.barrueco.com/

Variations on a Theme of Mozart

8. Pepe Romero (74 years old)

https://peperomero.com/

Pepe Romero plays Zapateado & Fantasia from ‘Suite Andalucia’ by Celedonio Romero

9. Christopher Parkening (70 years old)

http://parkening.com/

Christopher Parkening plays Koyunbaba at Harvest Crusade

10. Sharon Isbin (61 years old)

http://www.sharonisbin.com/

Sharon Isbin plays Waltz by Agustin Barrios Mangore

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John Williams – King of Classical Guitarists


I am currently reading a biography of this great classical guitarist called, ‘Strings Attached: The Life and Music of John Williams’ by William Starling and published in 2013. So far I am finding it dry reading, so I decided to see what was available on the internet.

The most comprehensive videoed interview with this giant of the classical guitar world that I could find is the four-part production by GuitarCoop:
Part 1 – The Early Years
Part 2 – The Musical Experience
Part 3 – The Composers
Part 4 – Final

However, the overview of his various collaborations (particularly with Julian Bream) that I found the most enjoyable was the 2016 John Williams (Classical Guitar) at the BBC. This 58-minute production contains several full pieces played by the maestro.

There is also a  transcript of an interesting  interview by Classical Guitar Magazine, summer 2016 edition, titled ‘Amazing Legacy: John Williams Reflects on Five Decades of Recordings’.

John Williams is a champion of Greg Smallman guitars which, when he first tried one out were unknown but now sell new for around $36,000. Classical Guitar Review interviewed John in 2010 and in Part Three of their publication he gave the reasons for his switch from Fleta to Smallman guitars.

Serval years after first meeting Greg Smallman, John visited him in his workshop deep in the Australian wilds and here is a short video clip of that visit.

El noi de la mare by Llobet

Performed here by Edson Lopes

A level 5 (intermediate) performance piece.

A Catalan folk song, which is both a lullaby and a Christmas song. The title is Catalan for “the mother’s baby boy”, where the mother refers to the Virgin Mary and the boy is the baby Jesus.

Miguel Llobet (18 October 1878 – 22 February 1938) was a Spanish classical guitarist, and a renowned virtuoso who toured Europe and America extensively. He arranged several Catalan folk songs for the solo guitar, as well as arrangements for the guitar of the piano compositions of Isaac Albéniz.

HERE is the musical score for this piece

A performance of the same piece by the famous Performed by Andres Segovia.

“Torija” from Castillos de España by Federico Moreno-Torroba.


Level/Grade 4 (Guitarburst level 7)

The castle of Torija is in the Guadalajara province, located just off the road between Madrid and Barcelona. Torroba (1891-1982) also composed operas, but he is best remembered for his works written for the classical guitar.

Per-Olov Kindren plays with his usaul style and sensitivity.

HERE is the musical score for this lovely piece

Free classical guitar music scores

Where do I go on the www to find free classical guitar scores? I have poked around quite a lot and have found the following sites to be the best.

www.classclef.com

This site lists over 4,600 pieces in .pdf format. There is no real difficulty grading system but it does list 1,173 pieces as ‘easy’. Some of the pieces have a difficulty indicator when you click on the actual selection; for instance, Tarrega’s Lagrima is marked ‘Grade 4 Late Intermediate’.

www.thisisclassicalguitar.com

Bradford Werner has provided a nice, but by no means comprehensive, selection of graded pieces. The added value of this site is that he provides video lessons for most of the pieces listed.

www.imslp.org

The Petrucci Music Library contains a huge database of public domain music for all instruments. It is not easy to browse this collection, but the search facilities are adequate if you are looking for a composer or a particular piece. For instance, a search for ‘Tarrega’ yields 51 pieces and a search for ‘Largrima’ yields no less than 7 available transcriptions. Unfortunately, there are no indications of playing difficulty. However, you could use www.guitarburst.com in conjunction with this site for most free guitar scores.

www.8notes.com

This site has over 600 scores, with basic difficulty level indicators, and an online synthesised audio/visual playback facility. However, it only allows a few views/downloads per every 24 hours unless you take out a paid subscription to the site.

www.classical-guitar-school.com

A reasonably good range of free music scores as well as methods and collections, but this is the site of the Guitar School of Iceland and so the commercial sections contain a lot more material that you will have to pay for.

www.delcamp.net

This site is more than just a forum and contains sections of graded classical guitar music. The drawback is that you have to become an active member of the forum in order to access most of these collections. In addition, the choice of music tends more towards the Baroque than anything else.

I hope this is useful to you – have fun and enjoy learning new stuff.

Beautiful Guitars

I love the look of well made classical guitars. Here are three beautiful guitars worth show-casing.

‘Black Diamond’  by Rafał Turkowiak

Design features include: •   Acoustic Tubes – special ‘holes’ placed in the neck that increase resonance and reduce neck mass.         •     WAVE type resonator – increases vibration through the soundboard; reduced bridge mass.

 Specs:

  • Top – Western Red Cedar
  • Back and Sides – Black and White Ebony
  • Arched back
  • Neck – Flame Maple
  • Fretboard – Ebony
  • Head – Crafted with natural black diamonds and authentic Mother of Pearl
  • Bridge – Black and White Ebony with Mother of Pearl
  • Armrest – Bevelled
  • Tuners – Ebony, Aluminium, White Mother of Pearl with an 18:1 ratio
  • Fret markers – Mother of Pearl
  • Varnish – French polish

 

 ‘No. 22’ by Zebulon Turrentine

Specs:

  • Top – Western Red Cedar
  • Back and Sides – African Mahogany
  • Fretboard – West African Ebony
  • Bridge – African Padauk
  • Bracing – Asymmetric lattice
  • French polish with shellac
  • Scale length – 650mm
  • Jumbo Gold EVO frets
  • Der Jung tuners

Grand Concert by Robert & Orville Milburn

Materials: Rare African blackwood sides and back, close straight grain European spruce soundboard with extensive cross grain silk, rare snakewood bindings, African Blackwood head veneers, black/white/black hairline purling, mammoth ivory saddle and bridge tie block decoration, perfectly executed side grain mosaic rosette, Rodgers tuning machine heads, impeccable French polish of finish.

Tarrega: “Adelita” – by Per-Olov Kindgren

Adelita is one of Tarrega’s most well-known compositions and is played by amateurs and professionals alike. Apparently, Tárrega named the piece Adelita because he dedicated the piece to the illegitimate daughter King Alfonso XII, Adela Aimerich.

Here Per-OLov Kindgren plays the piece, which I have graded as Level 6 (Higher exit).

History of the classical guitar


The early history of the guitar is not clear, but historians have documented developments over the last several hundred years.

HERE is an article based largley on research conducted by Don King (no not the boxing promoter).