The curious case of John Williams

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60moo
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by 60moo » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:18 am

A few months back, a BBC recording of a Williams / Etheridge concert was posted here on Delcamp. My comment then was that Williams was past his peak, so based on that observation alone, I'd agree with the OP's premise.
stevenhickeyguitar wrote:...I reckon an educated audience would recognise the interpretive and musical prowess over Galbraith over Williams, even though both players are equal in technical ability.
Feel perfectly free, however, to put me in the uneducated category! :roll:

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:28 pm

stevenhickeyguitar wrote:Also, in regards to his of Bach, Scarlatti etc. working so well because of his rhythmic playing, are they really the best youve heard? No offence but any decent guitarist plays 'rhythmically', its kinda the basics. The advanced stuff is the phrasing, nuances etc. So yes he does that stuff well, but i.m.o. many others do it equally well and 'better'.
With reference to the Scarlatti I heard on that LP, well yes, it was to this day the best I have ever heard. As for any decent guitarist playing rhythmically, I'm not sure that you know what I'm getting at: a great number of skilled concert guitarists have no internal pulse to speak of in their playing. To put it in another idiom, very few classical guitarists know how to 'groove'.

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Steven Joseph
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Steven Joseph » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:53 pm

frankly denian, anyone who doesnt have a good grasp of beat or rhythm is not a skilled musician. a skilled player maybe, but thats the core to good playing - just ask Williams!
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Dofpic
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Dofpic » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:54 am

While williams has incredible technique, I will take Segovia's tone any day. There is also bad blood between the two as Segovia had an affair with Williams mother. Don't know if that had anything to do with him not playing a fleta but from the time he switched to another guitar until Segovia died they never spoke again.
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Steven Joseph
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Steven Joseph » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:37 am

https://soundcloud.com/classicalguitara ... n-smallman

Found this interview of Williams talking about Smallmans v traditional were he actually puts his points across more convincingly and eloquently than in the Australian radio interview he did a few years ago. I understand what he means when he says trad guitars are more percussive when played louder in regards to there being less sustain, but I think that Smallmans have a punchy-ness and percussiveness to their general sound regardless of their sustain, but it was nice to hear his reasoning. Though I still dont buy his 'wider tonal palette' argument, as having played many Smallmans myself I always found their range a little clipped. They do pont just fine but the dolce is still a tad pingy for me.
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Cary W
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Cary W » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:15 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:(insert any other superlative pianist you may admire)
Marc-André Hamelin - search Hungarian Rhapsody no 2 or Bach-Busoni chaconne.
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dogonjon

Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by dogonjon » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:33 pm

In the progression of music and musicianship with Segovia and Bream we have two very dogmatic people who through charisma and personal drive pushed their musical values on to the stage and brashly proclaimed "this is what guitar music is". Then we have Williams and Parkening. Williams is the other end of the spectrum and his playing says to me "this is what was written, forgive me for not showboating like Bream." In my own definition Williams is intentionally mediocre keeping performances strictly in rhythm and true to the score. This appears to be an intentional response to Bream and Segovia who at times push the expressive elements a bit to far and suck for it. Holding the middle ground is Parkening. He plays within his range and never exceeds his skill. Everything is comfortable but he takes few chances. He makes the most of expression while staying safely composed. Bream on the other hand has fits of fury that he can't contain and guitar face ruins the passage distracting you from the virtue of the performance to see a sweaty man grimacing. There are times with Segovia where I long for a tempo. The rall. rit. accel. fermata never cease and my toe feels abandoned and gives up trying to find the beat. Don't get me wrong these are the greats of our time yet there are thresholds for expression that make music interesting but exceeding that is unproductive. Playing with too much precision is mechanical like midi and has little interest as well. Now days we are all in competition with recordings of the greatest virtuoso performances. We expect ourselves to constantly rise to that level. It's inhuman. The best we can do and should do as students is to follow Williams example. A solid foundation based on tempo and precision.

Macleod410

Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Macleod410 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:53 am

Well said, I totally agree.

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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by Lovemyguitar » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:43 pm

dogonjon wrote:Williams is the other end of the spectrum and his playing says to me "this is what was written, forgive me for not showboating like Bream." In my own definition Williams is intentionally mediocre keeping performances strictly in rhythm and true to the score. This appears to be an intentional response to Bream and Segovia who at times push the expressive elements a bit to far and suck for it.
:o I'll pretend I didn't hear that!

Williams and Bream are both wonderful players, but they are (obviously!) very different, they know it, we know it, and there is nothing more to say. To engage in a Williams vs Bream debate and to put one or the other down in such an insulting way is simply not necessary.

PAN A575

Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by PAN A575 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:51 pm

dogonjon wrote:The best we can do and should do as students is to follow Williams example. A solid foundation based on tempo and precision.
Perhaps so as a student, but I also appreciate someone who plays with expression. :)

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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by brooks » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:22 pm

dogonjon wrote: This appears to be an intentional response to Bream and Segovia who at times push the expressive elements a bit to far and suck for it.
dogonjon wrote:Don't get me wrong these are the greats of our time yet there are thresholds for expression that make music interesting but exceeding that is unproductive.
gee, if only Segovia and Bream had had you around to instruct them in the thresholds of acceptable expression and musicality, how much better and less "unproductive" and "dogmatic" they both would have been. where can i find the recordings of dogonjon - impartial arbiter of acceptable expressive thresholds - so I can better understand where Segovia and Bream went off the rails?

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wingarratta
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by wingarratta » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:18 am

Lovemyguitar wrote:Williams and Bream are both wonderful players, but they are (obviously!) very different, they know it, we know it, and there is nothing more to say. To engage in a Williams vs Bream debate and to put one or the other down in such an insulting way is simply not necessary.
+1
Thank you!
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by John Oster » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:46 am

wingarratta wrote:
Lovemyguitar wrote:Williams and Bream are both wonderful players, but they are (obviously!) very different, they know it, we know it, and there is nothing more to say. To engage in a Williams vs Bream debate and to put one or the other down in such an insulting way is simply not necessary.
+1
Thank you!
But...but...it's a forum on the internet...where else can people hid behind the anonymity of their computers and spout uninformed garbage? :D

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PaulHardy
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Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by PaulHardy » Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:11 am

brooks wrote: gee, if only Segovia and Bream had had you around to instruct them in the thresholds of acceptable expression and musicality, how much better and less "unproductive" and "dogmatic" they both would have been. where can i find the recordings of dogonjon - impartial arbiter of acceptable expressive thresholds - so I can better understand where Segovia and Bream went off the rails?
It's an internet forum. People put out strong opinions. If we aren't able to pass critical comment on people who have made more records than ourselves then what are we going to write about?

I have a friend in an amateur choir who happens to think Kiri Te Kanawa is a poor singer - by your criteria should she shut up too?

JohnPierce

Re: The curious case of John Williams

Post by JohnPierce » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:44 am

I liked this whole post, but especially
dogonjon wrote:... Williams ... playing says to me "this is what was written...."
Which is an interesting thought: John Williams as the Sviatoslav Richter of the classical guitar. Hmmm... So does that give us Bream as the classical guitar's Glenn Gould? Gould was certainly brilliant, but as a steady diet I think I prefer Richter.

Here is Gould talking about Richter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1iUdM5k5Hc. The first minute of this, wherein he divides (virtuoso-level) musicians into two categories is worth careful attention, particularly in the context of this discussion.

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