Buried Treasure: Guitar Concertos


[Today: In the wee hours…]

First a few facts: this album was recorded in 1961 in England by British classical guitarist Julian Bream. It consists of two album side-length guitar concertos, one composed by Mauro Giuliani (‘Concerto For Guitar And Strings’) and the other by Malcolm Arnold (‘Guitar Concerto, Op. 67’). In his liner notes, Bream describes Arnold as “…a large joyous man of wit and humor both in himself and in his music. Like all great jesters, he is also a man of pathos and deep intensity.” He also notes that Giuliani was “…one of several composers who succeeded in establishing the guitar concerto as an accepted musical convention.”

If that’s so then I tip my cap to Giuliani, because Guitar Concertos is one of the most relaxing albums in my collection, and one that I keep coming back to. In fact, I just spent two hours sorting 2010 receipts for the tax man, so I’m especially susceptible to its charms right about now. This album is so soothing that its best comparisons on my record shelf are chill electronica by the likes of Kruder Dorfmeister or Fila Brazilia. Like those artists, Bream’s music is suited for the quiet after the storm. Late Friday night, in the wee little hours, I pulled this album out and listened to it while I watched the stray twinkling lights in the Oakland hills. Well past 3am, when the world has truly calmed itself, is the time for an album like Guitar Concertos.

This record came into my possession shortly after I moved to San Francisco in 1994. I was sitting in my cubicle one day when my co-worker John came gliding by with a pile of about 35 LPs under one arm. “They’re giving away the vinyl in the production room,” he said, beaming. By the time I ran back there, all but one measly pile of rejected albums was left. I knew I’d missed the good stuff, but I flipped through that pile anyway, cursing my timing. The two albums I came away with: Jazz staple Getz/Gilberto (a favorite ever since) and Guitar Concertos

Listen: Andante [from Guitar For Relaxation]

Listen: Granada [from Guitar For Relaxation]

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