WORKS: Concerto antico; Guitar Concerto
PERFORMER: John Williams (guitar); LSO/Paul Daniel
CATALOGUE NO: SK 68337 DDD
Throughout history talented instrumentalists have inspired composers to write for them, and here John Williams maintains this noble tradition in works which are receiving their first recordings. Williams is an eclectic artist, and both Richard Harvey and Steve Gray share his interest in folk music and jazz, having worked closely with him for many years.
Harvey’s Concerto antico is more a suite than a conventional concerto: five movements ‘based on old dance and song forms from different parts of Europe’. The guitar is nicely balanced against the small orchestra, though the recording allows it undue prominence. Otherwise, however, the sound is most pleasing, and the performance could hardly be more idiomatic. As for the music, it is pleasant and at times rhythmically exciting, if seldom rising above the level of pastiche.
Steve Gray’s Concerto is a more ambitious affair, using a surprisingly large orchestra and developing the material much more extensively. In a helpful note he admits the need for ‘unobtrusive amplification’ of the guitar, the dangers of which would surely be more apparent in live performances than in a recording. The music is approachable and tuneful, and the orchestra is handled with assurance; again the performance seems admirable. Terry Barfoot