During his career John Williams has not only explored the basic classical literature for guitar, he has also expanded it by inspiring, commissioning and arranging music from different cultures and in different styles, thereby transform the instrument's repertoire. To celebrate this outstanding and ongoing recording career Sony Classical has released a 2 CD retrospective entitled John Williams: The Ultimate Guitar Collection.
The second cd alone is worth twice the compilation's asking price.
25 disc box set featuring music for the classical guitar from the 16th century up to the present day. Some of the works performed include 'Chaconnes' by Bach and Telemann, '12 Sonatas' by Scarlatti, 'Guitar Concertos' by Vivaldi, Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' and Brouwer's 'Music for Solo Guitar'.
Music both old and new, but all of it inspired by the timeless modal harmony of medieval and Mediterranean cultures: this is the subject of John Williams's brilliant guitar disc for Sony, which also features his debut as a composer. The main work is his own "Aeolian Suite" for guitar and chamber orchestra, based on both original and 14th-century tunes (one of which, the "Saltarello," appeared on early-music pioneer David Munrow's disc called Instruments of the Middle Ages). The suite is a lovely piece of writing, deftly composed, and neither tacky nor pretentious. It's paired with an inspired assortment of spiritually related but diverse arrangements and original pieces by Satie, Theodorakis, Domeniconi, and an emotionally intense four-movement work called "Stélé," by Australian composer Phillip Houghton. Naturally, Williams performs each piece expertly, but most important, he makes his instrument sing, and that's just what the music demands. Simply super.
To speak about this extensive set of music allegorically, "Space 'n' Bass" is like an aquarium full of beautiful and varied tropical fish, each interesting in it's own way, whether breathtakingly colorful, exotically compelling or curiously fascinating. And by the very nature of the mediums, both the fish in the imaginary aquarium and the music in these CDs achieve relaxing and beautiful movement via endless repetition and effectively enjoyed for limited time periods only. This is not to say that "Space 'n' Bass" is boring; it boasts an impressive array of ambient electronica offering ample doses of acid jazz, jungle, world-beat and beat-box percussive underpinnings, a nice balance of analog, digital and sampled textures, a smattering of other instruments, infectious bass patterns and surprising aural constructions…