These recordings were made in 1980 on a Revox reel to reel tape recorder. There was very little editing done. The idea was to make a CD of some unusual and rarely played modern guitar music, plus some transcrptions. Since the recordings have been transferred via a cassette tape and then compressed into MP3 files the sound quality leaves something to be desired.
Hans Erich Apostel – Sechs Musiken
Apostel studied with Schonberg and later with Berg and was involved with the publication of Berg’s opera scores at Universal Edition. These pieces are unusual in that there is very little guitar music that I know of written by adherents of the Second Viennese School. I also like these pieces a lot.
Paul Hindemith – Passacaglia
This is the last movement from Hindemith’s Viola Sonata of 1919, transcribed for the guitar. I like it because it feels as large in scope as the Bach Chaconne, but in style and form it belongs completely to the 20th century. In this sonata you can feel the relief and the release of energy that Hindemith must have felt when he emerged from the trenches and the horrors of World War 1.
Franz Burkhart – Passacaglia
Burkhart was Austrian and lived from 1902 until 1978. Otherwise not much biographical information is available. He was friendly with the guitar teacher Karl Scheit and wrote a few pieces for him. This passacaglia was written in 1940 and has a sombre mood as one might expect for music written in that period.
In 1969 I was studying classical guitar with Peter Scott at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I needed a new guitar and Peter Scott recommended I order a handmade guitar from David Rubio who was then working in Duns Tew, Oxfordshire.
I made an appointment to visit the workshop and Rubio appeared at the door wearing a suit, as I remember. He was known as “Gentleman Dave” for his habit of wearing a suit while making musical instruments. He asked me if I had played one of his guitars and I had to admit I hadn’t. He said “that’s a good test of a guitar maker!” and he picked up a guitar that was in for repair, whipped off the three bass strings with a string winder and replaced them and handed me the guitar. I played a Bach prelude on it and said “it has a beautiful singing voice”. Rubio looked very pleased and fetched out a stack of Brazilian rosewood and said “pick a back and sides”. I looked through the stack and picked a set with a slightly asymmetrical pattern.
Some time in early 1970 the guitar was ready and I went to Duns Tew to pick it up. The guitar had actually been made by Paul Fischer, but Rubio had been involved and he told me they had used a piece of 1952 Swiss pine for the top, such old wood was then quite rare and most of the pre-war stocks of tonewood had been burned by the Nazis as part of their scorched earth policy. Rubio said they had done something unusual with the strutting on the bass side of the guitar and brought one of the struts up into the upper bout. They were pleased with the guitar and said that even though it was brand new the bass was unusually strong.
Well, I’ve played this guitar all my life, though it’s had periods of rest when I’ve been experimenting with cedar tops. This year I had it repolished and some water damage repaired by an excellent guitar maker, Peter Barton, near Ilkley in Yorkshire.