Did you see Segovia, Bream and Williams live.

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by fraim » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:13 pm

i also saw segovia at the "valley forge music fair", outside of philadelphia back in the early 80's. to be honest, i didn't have an ear at that time to be able to know if he made mistakes as a previous poster noticed. i was a 25yr old newbie who was just thrilled to be able to see him perform and that's all that mattered to me & so i have good memories of that performance to this day.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by John Stone » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:22 pm

I saw both Bream and Williams live in NYC in the late 80's. I was lucky enough to live on the Upper West Side -- a terrible, little apartment, but I could walk to the concert halls to see them play! I saw a Segovia master class around the same time. I had tickets for a Segovia concert at Carnegie Hall, but sadly he died a few weeks before he could perform.
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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by Claughton » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:55 pm

I have had a passion for classical guitar since I was 12 and was lucky enough to see Julian Bream at the City Hall in Sheffield in my early teens. This would be about 1962. I had a seat near the front. He was only a few yards away from me. I went by myself as a young kid really and was totally mesmerised. I don't remember much of the programme. He played quite a bit of Bach though. I remember his manner was so relaxed and friendly. He really engaged with the audience almost like they were his friends.
I saw Williams in the 90s in Birmingham. He seemed miles away both in distance (Symphony Hall is quite large) and in manner. He was not disrespectful to the audience but did seem very aware of his celebrity and managed to convey to me that we should be priviledged to be there....which I suppose we were . His playing was perfect as always and I did enjoy the recital of course but it is a different type of impression he has left in my memory compared to Bream. I have no desire to see Williams again but wish I had more opportunities to see Julian Bream.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by riffmeister » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:00 pm

Parkening, Bream, and Williams. But sadly, never Segovia.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by Digory Piper » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:06 pm

The Bream concert I attended on 21 January 1973 included the first performance of the Walton Bagatelles. The programme also included Lennox Berkeley's Theme and Variations. Lennox Berkeley was present, and took applause, but Walton was not!

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by purple » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:06 pm

I've seen all of three of them. What they all had in common was an overpowering presence and confidence which came across in their music performance. Their interpretation had the hallmark of sureness that the piece could not be played in any other way. For me Julian Bream's concerts were the most memorable of all. John Williams had a very powerful sound, a very energetic player. Segovia's sound was... well, Segovia, what else.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by dory » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:43 pm

I am actually a bit sorry I saw Segovia because he was right at his very end. He was having a hard time. I, of course was very young, and my parents were relatively young. I couldn't believe that someone could be that old and still be on stage. I would be MUCH more sympathetic now. Some experiences are totally wasted on the young.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by DenisJ_III » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:34 pm

Yes, all three, once each.
I saw Segovia in 1976 at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon. This was a great barn of a place seating around 1,800 people and from my seat it was not easy to hear well. He certainly was a presence on stage and commanded attention and, inevitably, rapturous applause.
In London, around the same time I saw John Williams - I think at the Royal Festival Hall, but can't be sure of that.
Looking back, my abiding memory of both the Segovia and Williams recitals is of how ill-suited the guitar is to those great big venues. :| Yes, they both gave good performances, yes I'm very glad that I was able to see them, but for me the musical experience was diminished in those impersonal environments.

Julian Bream gave the inaugural recital to open a new arts centre in Poole, Dorset, in 1978 and I was fortunate enough to be there. At the time, this was a more modest venue (I believe it has since been redeveloped) and the scale was much more appropriate for the instrument. This was one of those occasions that stays in the memory, for all the right reasons. If I could choose to see one of them perform live again, it would definitely be JB,

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by guitareleven » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:43 pm

I've seen all three on multiple occasions, including a couple Bream/Williams joint recitals. Right now, i find myself ruminating on recollections of Williams. When I saw a solo recital he gave, I was in the balcony for the first half. I had been enjoying the concert immensely, but spotted a couple of vacant seats down in front of the stage. So, at intermission, I hurried down and grabbed occupancy of one of them. When the second half began, I realized that, for acoustics, I had made a mistake. Up in the balcony, one received the benefit of the surface of the stage acting like a reflecting board, which sent everything he did straight up into the rafters. Down in front, it wasn't that I couldn't still hear everything, but I had a sense that it was somehow it was all being shot over my head. However, I was excellently situated so that I could see his technique. It seemed that he had about a thousand different configurations to which he would conform his right hand as he played. I don't mean to suggest that it was just loosely flopping around, each one seemed the result of precise micro-adjustment which was quickly entered into, to a deliberately employed accuracy as to specific purpose, sometimes even if fleetingly. I had always believed and taught that rather than searching out a singular ideal right hand position in terms of closely defined small tolerances to which one then strictly adheres, that one needs to inculcate a technical envelope within which the hand can move, and adjust it's approach according to needs. It was gratifying to see this validated, while at the same time I was blown away by the manifest variety of form in which I was seeing it done.

i also find myself wanting to respond to a criticism of Williams that one does come across, i.e., that he is a technical marvel, but emotionally and musically void. I don't mean to target particularly anyone in this thread who may have suggested such; I do realize that there is a "subjectivity strikes again" factor in such discussion, and, I also do have to grant that there are a few recorded instances of his in which I have to go along with this seeming validated. But I have encountered such forwarded as a general characterization, in this forum and elsewhere, sometimes vehemently and ungraciously expressed. I think that there is a fundamental divergence of perception at work in this.

Just as a particular example, in the Bream/Williams recitals, each would have a solo portion. At one of these, a solo that Williams decided to play was the Weiss "Tombeau Sur la Morte de Mur. Comte d'Logy". Williams' performance of this had all the characteristics of his which are brought forward in these discussions. It's not a piece among those which one first thinks of as representing the highest demands of technical expertise, but it was exemplary of the absolute perfection of control and cool delivery for which he has come to be identified, And yet, it was at the same time, one of the most passionate and emotional performances i have ever heard. It is remarkable that out of a stellar concert of these two individuals at the top of their form, this is what has been the enduring memory for me.

So, that was my impression of one instance. As for the more generally operative "fundamental divergence of perception" to which I alluded, there was another forum in which, many years ago, someone had written in being so non-plussed and perplexed by the derision he had encountered among some colleagues for his "liking" of John Williams, that he was motivated to inquire whether there was, in fact, anything "wrong" with his perceptions. This, of course precipitated a long thread, which naturally took on some adversarial tone amongst some contributors. An extract from a post I contributed follows below. I apologize ahead of time if some bit of such partisan and polemical strain may have crept into how certain things were expressed; my main intent is to amplify upon such basic "divergences" as I have suggested.

">...I hear Williams getting
>so much negative and unreasonable criticism. Please tell my untrained ears
>I am missing....

Yes, John Williams is good- I see you have garnered a lot of replies, including the yawningly predictable salvos from the insular belt on this one.
You are not missing anything- we all know of his technical prowess, he has good clean tone, he plays with grace, style, and proportion- its difficult to say what it is that bugs his detractors so- perhaps in spite of their sometimes dismissal of him as a mere technician, the display of technique is actually what they miss. Maybe they need some discernable evidence of the effort involved, and if he plays as easily as if rolling off a log they feel cheated.

I've heard and read the term "restrained passion" in connection with Williams, offered in his favor by his supporters, uttered with a derisive snort by his detractors. I'm not sure about the restrained part- but perhaps those who don't "get it" about Williams demand that expressions of passion in music contain an element of something indulgent and sullying for them to detect it. You don't get a lot of that from Williams, in fact his artistry is presented with the same sort of deceptive ease as are his technical accomplishments. I suspect that those incapable of hearing this might be among those who hear no passion in Palestrina, think Mozart is either childish or stuffy, or imagine that it would be easy as pie to write like Vivaldi, or continue one of his concerti along the same line if presented with one broken off in the middle of a sequence.
Williams is in good company, there have been plenty of great artists subjected to such sniping. Luckily, he is not in a position in which he has to care about this.
There is nothing wrong with your hearing.

Someone said earlier that his programs are "light"? C'mon! His performances and recordings run the gamut of the repertoire! "

Again, my apologies- the above was more appropriate to the discussion in which it occurred, but the underlying thesis is one I think worth considering- ironically for the topic, in a more dispassionate manner.

And, as I said before, I myself have occasionally felt the same way about certain of Williams' efforts, and have also found a falling towards the reverse side of the tightrope which performance artists must traverse. Not long ago, I was writing to a colleague about one piece, and found myself saying this about an exemplary recording by Williams:

"This is, admittedly, Williams yielding to his occasional tendency to indulgence in his more bulldozerish aspect; performance-wise you may feel about this much as you did about some of the Saltarello videos you saw. Wiiliams' unleashing the full force of his formidable technical prowess to bear on pieces of fairly modest dimensions, that are less than super-human in their demands, sometimes emerges in a character of presentation similar to that that one might expect as a result of mounting a high powered Indy 500 race car engine in a Volkswagon beetle...."


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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by tubeman » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:19 am

Bream 3 or 4 times. Most were good, but the one shortly after his car accident was pretty shaky. He eventually apologized and said he was suffering from an inner ear infection and it was all he could to do to not lose his balance and fall off his bench!

Segovia when he was 89. Full of memory lapses and restarts. He too apologized and said "Some nights my guitar is my lover other nights she is..." and he just shrugged.

Williams 3 times. All were quite good technically, except the first time I saw him he played Paganini's 24th Caprice as an encore and messed up a section in harmonics. I noticed it, but it wasn't that bad. On the way out, one guy said to the other, "Did you hear those wrong notes in the Paganini?" I chimed in and asked, "Did you hear the thousands of right notes that he played?" He just glared at me.
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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by Montgomery » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:37 am

I've seen John Williams twice. The first time was with John Etheridge and they played a really good variety of music together. The second time I saw him play concierto de Aranjuez, that was out of this world. I had a ticket to see Julian Bream but it was cancelled a few days before he was due to perform, sadly.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by Peter Lovett » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:19 am

tubeman wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:19 am
Williams 3 times. All were quite good technically, except the first time I saw him he played Paganini's 24th Caprice as an encore and messed up a section in harmonics. I noticed it, but it wasn't that bad. On the way out, one guy said to the other, "Did you hear those wrong notes in the Paganini?" I chimed in and asked, "Did you hear the thousands of right notes that he played?" He just glared at me.
Oh classic! Isn't that what we all should be about when we go to a recital, lets enjoy the experience and not carp about the slips. :bravo:
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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by Tim W » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:38 am

I heard Segovia several times at the Lisner Auditorium and Constitution Hall in Washington DC during the 60's. There was always a lot of tension about whether anyone would cough when he sat down, as he was known to get up and leave until there was silence. I had little to compare his performances to at the time, as I was just starting out and hadn't heard many other recitals. I do remember he was clearly audible in a big hall. I heard Bream during that same period at the Library of Congress, if memory serves. I was mesmerized.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by amade » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:57 pm

I saw Segovia numerous times in Detroit and Chicago, starting in the late 1960s. These concerts were perceived as major events, and they attracted a broad and educated audience. People would hold their breath to better hear the nuances of his playing. Unfortunately his decline was quite noticeable as the years progressed and I did not enjoy his last performances. I saw John Williams in Chicago and he was certainly the greatest guitar player I ever heard. But his performance was uninspiring; he appeared to be just going through the motions and not at all enjoying himself. I could not imagine a more aloof performance of the Stanley Myers' Cavatina. I was told that he could play with much more expression when inspired. I saw Julian Bream in Milwaukee, and he was the most gifted and inspiring performer on the guitar that I have ever seen. He connected directly with his audience; he communicated, both with words and with music. He seemed to draw energy from the audience and its emotions. I saw Christopher Parkening several times in the early 1970s and he played well.

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Re: Did you see Segovia,Bream and Wiliams live.

Post by Smudger5150 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:55 pm

I saw John Williams at Birmingham UK somewhere between late 90s and early 00s - can't remember the exact date.
The thing that struck me at the time was how easy he made it look. Maybe some would say it was uninspiring.
I enjoyed it but wasn't blown away, so to speak. I had just heard Antigoni Goni's version of Koyunbaba (written by Domeniconi) on CD which I really liked and JW played it but it didn't have the same sparkle (?) compared to the one on the CD.
Maybe, as many have alluded to, he tends to play slightly safer compared to others who are more expressive.
But I've noticed how really accomplished players in any genre tend to make it look easy. I saw Joe Satriani and Dream Theater's John Petrucci during a similar period and they seemed to make their playing look easy too.
It's probably due to their technique being 'economical' etc. so as to be able to play at such a high level.
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