“Concerto” = SALINAS: Danzas Peregrinas; EDWARDS: Arafura Dances; GOSS: Guitar Concerto – John Williams, guitar – SCW3 – self [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

“Reinventing Guitar II” = D. SCARLATTI: Five Sonatas; BACH: Prelude, Fugue & Allegro in E-flat Major; Toccata in e; HANDEL: “The Harmonious Blacksmith;” Chconne No. 2 in G Major; Reference track – Smaro Gregoriadou, special guitars – Delos CD 3419, 61:09 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

A pair of winning guitar CDs.

(John Williams – guitar; Horacio Duran – charango; Richard Harvey – clarinet, kena, sicus, mandolin, recorder; English Ch. Orch. cond. by Paul Daniel [in Danzas Peregrinas, chamber orch. alone in Arafura Dances.]; Royal Philharmonic Orch./ Paul Daniel (in Goss Concerto))

After years of recording for Decca and other major labels, John Williams has started his own label to insure the profits from sales go to him instead of someone else. This is evidently his third CD on the label.

He says he waited a long to assemble three guitar concertos which had a strong sense of their own identity and worked well together. The Danzas Peregrinas came from many performance Williams has made with Inti-Illimani. He asked the group’s principal composer to put some of their pieces together into a concerto form. These dances of popular rhythms are for three different soloists, chamber orchestra and a guest cellist, Caroline Dale.

Arafura Dances is really a guitar concerto in three movements. The composer is Australian and the outer movements are based on Australian chants. There are also fleeting references to musical cultures of Southeast Asia and traditional Spanish music. The intial movement of Stephen Goss’ Guitar Concerto alludes to North American urban music and modern jazz. The center movement is elegiac with an English quality, and the finale draws on Latin American influences.

Inventor and musician Yorgos Kertsopoulos has created two special guitars for this recording, as he did three for the first volume in this series which we reviewed here. https://www.audaud.com/?p=38530

One is a double-course pedal guitar and the other a single-string scalloped pedal guitar, which comes in both soprano and alto versions. Miss Gregoriadou plays beautifully and whereas on the first album we only got a single Scarlatti harpsichord sonata, this cD opens with arrangements of five of them. These are quite different-sounding from the nylon string acoustic guitar versions by such as Segovia, Kersopoulos feels these instruments are closer to what might have been used at the time for some performances and add sonic interest to the early music works. Two of the works are having their recording premieres here, and none of them have been performed on these special guitars previously.

Gregoriadou did all the arrangements herself and her playing of the very difficult passages has great clarity and perfection of fingering. Sometimes the sound is very much like a harpsichord, especially on the Scarlatti Sonatas. The Reference Track which closes out the CD is an analytical presentation of various tunings, and samples of some of the pieces played on a standard guitar with nylon strings and ordinary tuning.


1} Domenico Scarlatti – 5 Harpsichord Sonatas
2} Johann Sebastian Bach – Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV 998
3} Johann Sebastian Bach – Toccata in E minor, BWV 914
4} George Frideric Handel – Air and Variations “The Harmonious Blacksmith”
5} George Frideric Handel – Chaconne No. 2 in G major, HWV 435
6} Reference Track

—John Sunier