The opening track, "Segovia" by Albert Roussel, is at once as explosive as it is subtle, weaving together bursts of joy with more thoughtful expression. Dedicated to legendary guitarist AndrÃ©s Segovia, Roussel's hommage is one of the gems of the guitar's repertoire.
The opening of the next track, J.K. Mertz's "Elegie," belies its dramatic development and conclusion. Viennese composer and guitar virtuoso Mertz was one of the most significant guitarists of the nineteenth century, even with his death at age 50. The "Elegie fur die guitarre" was one of his last works, and is a masterwork of craft and an exquisite composite of emotions.
"Nocturnal, after John Dowland," Opus 70, was composed for guitarist Julian Bream and given its premiere at the Aldeburgh festival in England in 1963. It is a brilliantly understated piece, and is arguably the most significant contribution to the guitar's literature of the twentieth century. It is an exploration of the notion of sleep in the form of a theme and variations in reverse: after eight tumultuous and often violent variations, sleep finally comes to the listener in the form of John Dowland's song "Come heavy sleep."
The next three pieces can be thought of as a triptych, a collection of complementary short pieces. Barrios' "Julia Florida" is a barcarolle, a boat song that meanders longingly through a variety of related themes and moods. It is one of Barrios' most expressive pieces. The following two pieces are World Premiere recordings of works by Chicago composers. "Tom-Tom," dedicated to guitarist Tom Farrell, is a volatile piece at times, but one that is blended with a bit of whimsy. "Song for Zoe," dedicated to composer Noah Lubin's twin sister, returns to the mood of the barcarolle, captured particularly well in the recurring motive of a rising scale fading each time to near silence.
Mauro Giuliani was a guitar virtuoso of the early 19th century, and celebrates the music of Rossini by setting several operatic melodies and then varies them over the course of this "mini-opera." Along with an introduction and a coda (attaca with the final march-like theme), there are 5 aria themes and their accompanying variations. The character of the themes ranges from the melancholic and serene of the beginning sections to boisterous and dramatic of the last movement.
Mexican composer Manuel Maria PoncÃ©'s Sonata III is at once dramatic, confrontational, and beautiful. Its three movements comprise one of the most significant sonatas for the guitar of the 20th Century. The 1st movement could be described as an unrelenting assault on the listener, moving among bombast, humility, and serenity; the tension created throughout the movement finally fades away just as suddenly as it began. The 2nd movement is a song based upon a Catalonian tune, and is a beautiful release after the turmoil of the previous movement. The 3rd movement is a rondo, the theme of which is heard at the outset of the piece. Three episodes intersperse the rondo theme before a final, dramatic section of tremolo that carries the movement to a surprising end.
James Baur is part of a musical family: his father is a composer, his mother a flutist. Born in 1976, he was constantly exposed to a variety of musical styles. After beginning his musical studies on the violin, he turned his attention to the guitar at the age of 12. Throughout high school in Memphis, Tennessee he studied with the prominent guitarist Lily Afshar.
In 1999 he received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Northwestern University, under the direction of Anne Waller. While at Northwestern, he was selected to perform in the masterclasses of Oscar Ghiglia, Pepe Romero, Manuel Barrueco, Paul O'Dette and Scott Tenant.
He was awarded First Prize in Guitar in the 1998 Society of American Musicians Competition. In 2000 he was selected to perform on both the Chicago Classical Guitar Society's Local Artist Showcase and The Friends of the Windows Second Saturday Concert Series , on which he was invited to perform again in 2001.
In February 2001 he premiered his father John Baur's Etudes for Guitar and Songs of Love for Soprano and Guitar at the Imagine Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, and has performed with Ensemble Noamnesia and Northwestern University's Contemporary Music Ensemble in Chicago. In 2003 he gave World Premiere performances for Chicago composers Bjorn Berkhout and Robert McDonald, and played the electric guitar in Virgil Moorefield's Premiere performance of his ensemble work "Things You Must do to Get into Heaven" in November 2003. In March 2004 he performed "fa/sil" by Bjorn Berkhout at the New Music Festival at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. And most recently he was selected to perform on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago's Cultural Center on April 27, 2005. The performance was simulcast on both television and radio.
Recent concert programs include "A History of the Guitar: The Twentieth Century," a series of concerts chronologically exploring significant works from the guitar's repertoire. He is also a member of The Avanti Duo, a flute and guitar duo with flutist Kim Sopata, and has performed with the MAVerick Ensemble in Chicago. His current projects include two CDs: "Made of String", an eclectic blend of styles and composers; and another of works by Chicago-area composers, including Bjorn Berkhout, Alan Cole, Noah Lubin, and Paul Failla.
Also active as a teacher, he is on the faculty of Sherwood Conservatory of Music, The Suzuki-Orff School for Young Musicians, and The Lake Forest Symphony Music School.
Check out the artist's website:
3. I Musingly
4. II Agitated
5. III Restless
6. IV Uneasy
7. V March-like
8. VI Dreaming
9. VII Gently Rocking
10. VIII Passacaglia
11. IX Slow and Quiet
12. Julia Florida
14. Song for Zoe
15. La Rossiniana
16. Allegro - Moderato
17. Chanson - Andante
18. Allegro non Troppo