1st Edition

Recording the Classical Guitar

By Mark Marrington Copyright 2021
    444 Pages
    by Routledge

    444 Pages
    by Routledge

    Recording the Classical Guitar charts the evolution of classical guitar recording practice from the early twentieth century to the present day, encompassing the careers of many of the instrument’s most influential practitioners from acoustic era to the advent of the CD. A key focus is on the ways in which guitarists’ recorded repertoire programmes have shaped the identity of the instrument, particularly where national allegiances and musical aesthetics are concerned. The book also considers the ways in which changing approaches to recording practice have conditioned guitarists’ conceptions of the instrument’s ideal representation in recorded form and situates these in relation to the development of classical music recording aesthetics more generally. An important addition to the growing body of literature in the field of phonomusicology, the book will be of interest to guitarists and producers as well as students of record production and historians of classical music recording.



    Preface and Acknowledgements

    1 Recordings and the Evolving Identity of the Classical

    Guitar in the Twentieth Century

    De!ning the Terms of the Study

    Narratives of the Classical Guitar in the Twentieth Century

    The Recording Model Established

    The Recording Model Consolidated

    The Recording Model Interrogated

    The Recording Model Deconstructed


    2 The Classical Guitar in the Early Period of Recording: Spain

    Introduction: Evaluating the Early Period of Classical Guitar Recording

    The Technological Conditions of Early Recording

    Recording Plucked String Instruments

    Early Classical Guitar Recording in Spain, 1897–1936

    The Recordings of Miguel Llobet

    Spanish Guitarists on the Regal Label

    Other Signi!cant Recordings Made by Spanish Guitarists During the 1920s and 1930s

    3 Segovia at HMV (1923–1939)


    Segovia’s First Recording

    Segovia at HMV: Repertoire and Recording Strategy

    The Reception of Segovia’s HMV Recordings

    The Sound of Segovia’s HMV Recordings: Early Classical Guitar Recording Aesthetics

    The HMV Recordings and Later Critical Perspectives on Segovia’s Performance Style

    4 The Classical Guitar in the Early Period of Recording: Latin America


    Edison, Victor and the Classical Guitar in Cuba and Mexico

    Mexican and Cuban Guitarists Recording in the Late 1920s and Early 1930s

    Classical Guitar Recording in the Rio de la Plata and the Legacy of Agustín Barrios

    The Eclectic Roots of Solo Guitar Recording in Brazil


    5 Segovia at American Decca


    Early Post-war Recordings and the Transition to LP

    Return to Abbey Road

    Segovia at American Decca: Rede!ning the Classical Guitar in the Post-war Period

    The LP and the Structure of Segovia’s Early Recorded Programs

    Repertoire Programming and Evolution of the Segovian Album Concept

    Segovia in the Studio

    Segovia’s Recordings and the Aesthetics of “High Fidelity”

    Acoustics in Classical Guitar Performance: A Brief Digression

    The Sound of Segovia’s American Decca Recordings

    6 The North American Backdrop to Segovia


    The Foundations of the North American Classical Guitar


    The Recordings of the Spanish Music Center

    The Spanish Music Center and Lo-Fi Recording Aesthetics

    The Recording Career of Rey de la Torre

    Laurindo Almeida’s Recordings of the 1950s and 1960s

    The Sound of Almeida’s Recordings

    The Classical Guitar and American Popular Music and Jazz

    7 Developments in Latin America


    The Documentation of Latin American Guitar Music

    The Emergence of the Brazilian Classical Guitar

    Guitarists of the Rio de la Plata

    Alirio Díaz and Venezuelan Music

    The Classical Guitar in Mexico

    Cuban Perspectives on the Classical Guitar


    8 Nationalism and Modernism in the Recordings of Julian Bream


    Early Recordings for Decca and Westminster

    Recording Aesthetics: Westminster’s “Natural Balance”

    Re-thinking the Classical Guitar Album Program: Bream at RCA

    Modernizing the Repertoire: 20th Century Guitar, ’70s and Dedication

    Bream’s Quest for an Acoustic Aesthetic

    Re-orienting Recorded Guitar Perspective After Bream

    Bream and the Recording Process

    9 Non-conformity in the Recordings of John Williams


    Early Recordings: Delysé, Westminster and CBS

    Williams’ Early Recording Aesthetic

    Recording and Repertoire Experiments After 1970

    Constructing the Solo Guitar Recording

    Crossover Projects from Changes to Sky

    Williams’ Changing Attitude to Recorded Classical Guitar Sound

    Multi-tracking the Classical Guitar

    10 The Wider European Context


    Spain: The Early Recordings of Narciso Yepes

    Yepes at Deutsche Grammophon

    Spanish Contemporaries of Yepes

    Guitarists in Austria

    The Recordings of Siegfried Behrend and Anton Stingl

    The Emerging Czechoslovakian Guitar Scene

    Classical Guitar Recording in France


    11 Post-Segovian Narratives of the Classical Guitar


    The Classical Guitar and the Recording Industry at the End of the 1960s

    The Assimilation of the Bream Paradigm

    Leo Brouwer and the Avant-garde Classical Guitar

    The Album Program Re-imagined

    The Rise of the North American Progressives

    Contemporary Eastern European Perspectives

    Traversing Boundaries: The Recordings of Liona Boyd

    Popular Music as Repertoire: The Classical Guitar Canon In!ltrated

    12 Retaining and Revitalizing the Tradition


    Segovia’s Legacy in North America: Christopher Parkening

    The Spanish Perspective Retained

    Recordings and the Classical Guitar Transcription

    Historical Composer Recording Projects

    Latin America and the Classical Guitar Canon

    Audiophile Recording and the Classical Guitar

    Recapturing Liveness: Classical Guitarists and “Direct to Disc” Recording

    13 Narrative Threads Since the 1990s


    The Consolidation of the Progressive Paradigm

    The Revival of the Classical Guitarist-Composer

    Classical Guitar Recording in Britain Since the 1990s

    North American Perspectives After 1990

    Popular Music and the Canonization of The Beatles

    The Canon Upheld: The Recordings of David Russell

    The Segovian Paradigm Reinstated

    The Repertoire Documented: The Naxos Guitar Collection

    The Emergence of the Specialist Classical Guitar Recordist

    New Critical Perspectives on Classical Guitar Sound

    Extensions of the Audiophile Recording Aesthetic

    14 Two Contemporary “House” Guitarists and the Future of Classical Guitar Recording Practice


    Xuefei Yang

    Miloš Karadagli□□

    Concluding Remarks

    Archives and Bibliography

    Select Discography



    Mark Marrington studied classical guitar as an undergraduate before training as a musicologist in the late 1990s and undertaking doctoral work focused on twentieth-century British music and the composer Denis ApIvor. Later he became interested in record production and recording technologies leading him to a period of research into the impact of digital production tools (principally the Digital Audio Workstation) upon musical creativity in a number of genre contexts. This book is essentially a marriage of these two perspectives. Mark is currently Senior Lecturer in Music Production at York St. John University and his academic writing has been published by Cambridge University Press, Bloomsbury Academic, Routledge, Future Technology Press, British Music, Soundboard, Classical Guitar, the Musical Times and the Journal on the Art of Record Production.

    Recording the Classical Guitar is the winner of Best History in the category Best Historical Research on Recorded Classical Music in the 2022 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence. Begun in 1991, the ARSC Awards are given to authors of books, articles or recording liner notes to recognize those publishing the very best work today in recorded sound research.

    'Recording the Classical Guitar is an abundantly detailed and historically thorough publication. It ably discusses common elements from over a century of classical guitar history, uses primary sources effectively, and mentions a variety of performers who may otherwise have escaped notice of the guitar world at large.'

    - Austin Wahl in Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal.