Julian Bream – Popular Classics for Spanish Guitar = VILLA-LOBOS: Choros No. 1, Etude in F Minor, Prelude in E minor; TORROBA: Madrones; TURINA: Homage to Tarrega , Fandanguillo; ALBENIZ: Suite espanola; FALLA: Homenaje – Julian Bream, guitar – RCA

by | Feb 8, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Julian Bream – Popular Classics for Spanish Guitar = VILLA-LOBOS: Choros No. 1, Etude in F Minor, Prelude in E minor; TORROBA: Madrones; TURINA: Homage to Tarrega (excerpts), Fandanguillo; ALBENIZ: Suite espanola (excerpts); FALLA: Homenaje “The Tomb of Claude Debussy;” TRAD.: Popular Catalan Songs: El testament d/Amelia – Julian Bream, guitar – RCA Red Seal Living Stereo SACD 88697-04606-2, 42:27 ****:

Whoops, I just referred in my last Living Stereo SACD review to the increased time length of around 70 minutes. Not in this case. It is unfortunate, therefore, that two of the guitar pieces are excerpted when there is plenty of time available.  But there wasn’t back in 1962 and in the LP era 42 minutes was about it, even for solo guitar.

This is nevertheless a legendary recording of Spanish guitar music by one of the masters of both that instrument and of the lute. The works are some of the best-known and most popular for the classical guitar and Bream breathes wonderful life into them. The three Villa-Lobos pieces are to my thinking the standouts of the album – they seem to fit the instrument so perfectly (even though they don’t quite fit the theme of Spanish composers).

The tremendous resolution of the new DSD remastering brings out not only the warm and wide-range sound of the guitar, but also the whistling on the strings and other noises to be expected in most classical guitar performances – sometimes to a nearly annoying degree.  There is also a low hiss thruout the disc – the sort of thing usually covered up by other vinyl surface noises but now quite audible.  It is claimed that no EQ or noise reduction is done on the original tapes.  Sony BMG persists in calling the Living Stereo recordings made originally only in two channels “Multichannel.” Sorry, but that term normally refers to more than two channels. Thus, the Stereo layer and the Multichannel layer on this disc are perfectly identical, which seems wasteful and confusing.  It would have been nice to offer some sort of derived ambiance on the surround channels in the Multichannel option – as several other labels have done, but evidently that doesn’t fit BMG’s purist approach on this series, and I suppose the feeling is “Why risk it?” when this is currently the most successful classical CD reissue series.

 – John Sunier

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