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Aug 14 2011

Alvaro Henrique, Gran Fantasia

Published by under Videos

Arrangement of Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Great Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem, transcribed for guitar.

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Jun 15 2011

Barrios WorldWideWeb 2011: Laura Klemke; Estudio de Concierto.

Contribution from Laura Klempke for the Barrios Worldwide Web 2011.

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Jun 12 2011

Milos: The Guitar

Published by under CD Reviews

Montenegro guitarist Milos Karadaglic debut CD contains many staples of the Spanish guitar repertoire, and a bonus DVD documentary, “Milos, The Journey”. It is useful to play the DVD first in my opinion, as the viewer gets an introduction to the classical guitar debutante, from his Montenegro youth to his journey to London, to study guitar at the London School of Music.

Included on the DVD is  a number of clips of the young guitarist playing and singing, among his Montenegro friends, interspersed with extracts of Milos playing in a deserted building some music from the CD, and preparing the recording in the studio. The effect is one of the loneliness of a young performer making his long journey from his practise room to the concert stage, a bridge many players have found it impossible to cross.

The theme of this CD music is the Mediterranean, mostly famous Spanish works and others by Greek composer Theodarakis and Domeniconi from Turkey.

From the very first notes of the opening track on the CD, the much played “Asturias” by Albeniz,  I was aware of a depth of performance not often attained by guitarists in this work. This was followed by “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Tarrega, with it’s evergreen tremolo melody and a haunting evocation of the famous Granada palace. In all works Milos is guided by his own ideas for phrasing, and I was aware of a freshness of interpretation, an example of which is in “Recuerdos” a pause before the final phrases of the minor key section, with the tremolo melody on second string here also, not commonly employed by guitarists, but effective here.

“Sevillia” by Albeniz contains some grace notes in the accompanyment I’ve not heard before in guitar interpretations. “Spanish Romance” features orchestral strings. Tarrega is well represented by “Lagrima”, “Adelita”, given a beautiful, delicate reading, and “Capricho Arabe”.

“Koyunbaba” by Domeniconi has become a much loved addition to the repertory, and here Milos takes his ideas for interpretation from the sea, the performer himself saying of the piece: “like the sea itself, sometimes calm, sometimes a storm…” The work gets a refreshing clarity of performance, with every note sparkling like sunshine on the water…

Mikis Theodorakis is represented by two Epithasios “A Day In May”, given a very sensitive, almost tragic rendition, and “You Have Set My Star”. If I have any critisism of this CD it must by why play only two of these under played Epithasios? Surely the third deserves a hearing also…

Miguel Llobet’s arrangeents of Catalan Folk songs is highlighted by  “El Testament de n’Amelia”, before two Spanish Dances  by Enrique Granados, “Andaluza” and the evocative “Orientale”, played here as solo work on guitar, instead of the often played duet. This involves a key change, but the piece comes over very well, even though I doubt it will be often played as guitar solo.

Milos Karadaglic is a very fine guitarist, who on this recording breathes new life into some much played works, and is a name I feel we will hear a lot more of. The future of the classical guitar still shines brightly, and I would like to thank the performer for inspiring me to pick up some of these classic pieces again, and to re-discover the beauty in them once again.

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May 01 2011

Para Montse by Abysis Projects

Published by under Videos

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Mar 01 2011

Warm Up Routines

Published by under Guitar Tuition

After watching David Russell in a masterclass recently, he made some points relating to warm up routines, and ways to get all fingers of both hands working.

It’s often a case of simple exercises on open strings, for the right hand, i,m fingering playing triplet patterns. The three not figures can present a problem when string crossing, so it’s also an exercise for that as well. Try playing from the top string down, then varying so as to include different string plucking patterns.

For the left hand short scales can be useful, played at different points on the fingerboard, varying speeds. It can help for improvising too, makes you think about what you are playing, not just the “mindless” repetition which can destroy practise incentive. Also try two or three note ligado patterns, different strings.

Russell made the point that the more of these patterns you practise, the more often you will come accross a piece which employs a technique that you have been working on, example as below, Torroba Sonatina:

 The less we practise, the more likelihood that we will be using the piece itself as an exercise, which will take longer to learn, and more to the point, make learning the music itself more of a chore..I well remember the feeling of learning a new piece for the first time. It was like discovering hidden treasures, opening a new box of tricks. However you practise, try to preserve  those positive feelings about learning new music. After all, the real joy is in the learning itself…

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Feb 19 2011

Milonga, Cardoso

Published by under Videos

I am indebted to Adriana Veroes and Rare Guitar VC for discovering this gem, Cardoso himself playing his famous piece “Milonga”, this time in duet in Poland with Leszek Potanski.

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Feb 15 2011


Published by under General,Guitar Tuition



As an experiment, play the above passage, an extract from “Una Limonsna” by Barrios…Play it twice, second time, take your fingers off the fingerboard completely, after  playing bar …, then attempt to pick up from where you left off. Can you begin playing again, or like me, not able to find the notes on the fingerboard after lifting your fingers off? I can still hear the music in my head, but because the thread or sequence is broken, my fingers are unsure how to proceed.

Little wonder then, when playing in public, it is easy for one’s memory to go, following a fingering slip.  We have trained our fingers to the point where they go from one fingering to another  automatic, without thinking of it, which should better enable us to focus on the music in performance. But nerves can play havoc, and many people say their memory fails them when performing in public. How best then, can we overcome this difficulty?

Play the music in your head


It’s a technique you can practise on a train, tram, tube, walking the dog, in a park, or simply in the bath. “Listen” to the music in your head, imagine yourself playing it, and picture the fingerings in your mind’s eye. It’s a great way to understand the fingerings relating to the music, and to get the music as secure as you can before performing it in public. This is something many great players do all the time, and I’ve found it useful myself.

Another idea, in the early stages of practise, is to play the music backwards, from the score. Play last bar, then next to last bar ect. It can be of benefit to know what chord, for example, is coming up next, a way of anticipating the music ahead.

All these techniques are aimed at assisting your knowledge of the music, it’s fingerings, and memorisation. Any other ideas which you use I’d like to hear…


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Dec 13 2010

El Choclo, Tango Arr. Roland Dyens

Published by under General

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Nov 17 2010

Two Guitar Scores

Published by under General

Here are two charming pieces for guitar originally offered in the free music supplement of the now obsolete magazine guitar international. “July Bride” by Geoffrey George, written for Cobie Smit, and “Reflections” by Robert Reid, written for Phillip Thorne.

I am not sure if either piece has ever been recorded, but despite some smudges on the image files here, it seems a shame to me not to make such good quality compositions for guitar available for those who might want to play them. Unless that is, the composers tell me otherwise..

July Bride


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Nov 08 2010

Classical Guitar Events November

This weekens sees the latest Stafford Guitar  classical guitar workshop at Farncombe Estate in the Cotswold’s. Details from Adrian and Selina here 

Xuefei Yang is performing works by Bach, Chopin, Albeniz, Sainz de la Maza, Jobim and Rodrigo at Wiltshire Music Centre. Telephone number for tickets can be obtained from dialling 01225 860100. To whet your appetite here is Yang playing Butterfly Lovers.

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Mark Antony