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MP3 Paul Galbraith - Introducing the Brahms Guitar

“Galbraith’s playing is a joy to listen to. It has intensity of focus and immediacy of expression that are unique in the guitar world.”- American Record Guide ~ “Exceptional artistry.” ~ The New Yorker

19 MP3 Songs

Show all album songs: Introducing the Brahms Guitar Songs

plays his revolutionary 8-string ''Brahms Guitar''.

Paul Galbraith''s historic debut 8-string classical guitar recording:

Recorded by John Taylor at Habberdashers, London, 12 & 13 November 1994.

The ''Brahms Guitar'' was built for Paul Galbraith by renowned
violin maker & Luthier David Rubio.

Paul Galbraith''s 8-string guitar transcriptions
published by Hornall Bros. Music Ltd.

Original Limited Edition 1996 UK-release on the Watercourse Recital label
~ now available on CD Baby.

sleeve notes by Paul Galbraith – Edinburgh, July 1996:

"The name Brahms Guitar derives from my arrangement of the Brahms Variations on an Original Theme Op. 21A for piano, which I had initially transcribed for the 6-string guitar. At the time, I felt the transcription had been somewhat of a breakthrough in my ongoing attempts to develop new repertoire for the instrument, to the extent that I began to think about having it published. I still encountered two significant problems, however. Firstly, I was worried by a certain incompleteness in the bass; the other problem being that for much of the piece my left hand was stretched to its limits.

"I recognised that the question of increasing the bass range of the guitar was hardly a new one. Even as far back as the 19th century, guitarists played and wrote for multi-stringed guitars, which carried extra bass strings, strung below the traditional six. Indeed throughout this 20th century, any numbers of strings have been added to increase the bass range. However, one extra string tuned to a low A (a fifth the low E string), yet also flexible enough to stand tuning up to a low C, would, I felt, be sufficient to give the sense of “completeness” in the bass that was looking for.

"During a discussion, a close friend - the Italian guitarist Stéfano Grondona - suggested to me that in order to increase the available range within one position (and therefore also reduce stretching), an eighth string could be placed above the high E string, tuned a fourth above, to a high A. This would, in turn, balance the instrument, as the additional strings would effectively surround the (unaltered) traditional six strings.

"With an 8-string instrument such as this, I knew that a considerable repertoire would become available to me (quite apart from allowing me to work on a more complete and comfortable version of the Brahms transcription). Lute music, from the Renaissance right through to the late Baroque, could fall more easily under the fingers, using the complete original “tessitura” and, in all but a few instances, at the original pitch. In fact, it would be possible for Renaissance lute music to be read straight from the lute tablature. Even original 6-string guitar works would inevitably benefit the extra high string (and occasionally the extra low one also) in facilitating fingerings, enabling a greater control of voicing, and sometimes even completing the range which had been overstepped by the (non-guitarist) composer.

"Transcriptions would naturally take their lead from the Brahms model, and the prospect of developing an original repertoire for the instrument became a very exciting one. It seemed to me that the instrument would be able to cope fully with the entire range of existing guitar repertoire, and much more besides. The major problem was to find someone who could turn such an idea into reality – the reality of an 8-string guitar that still sounded as rich and entrancing as the classical guitar so many players and audiences have come to know and love.

"I started and ended my search at the top. I seemed almost too much to hope for that the renowned English luthier, David Rubio, would take on such a project, but from the very first mention of the idea, he was wonderfully enthusiastic. Adding an extra octave range to an already perfectly balanced instrument, without sacrificing tonal quality, would provide an undoubtedly difficult but worthy challenge.

"Rubio´s inspired solution to the problem of designing the instrument was based on the Renaissance model of the “Orphereon”. The Orphereon was unique in fretted string-instrument, in that it gave a staggered, rather than uniform length to the strings. This was achieved by using a slanting bridge and nut, opening up in length towards the bass, with the frets “fanning out” over the complete length of the fingerboard. Although the instrument was short-lived, largely due to its uncomfortable metal strings, it seemed to Rubio that the Orphereon´s revolutionary stringing system was worth resurrecting for this modern classical guitar.

"Rubio´s prototype proved to be an astounding success. The two outer strings sounded like “normal” guitar strings, and integrated beautifully with the middle six. The whole instrument sounded amazingly full and rich in tone over its entire range. Furthermore, it felt very natural to play, thanks to some fine adjustments to the width between the strings (and hence the overall width of the neck). I also found the finished look and “ergonomics” of Rubio´s guitar to be totally integrated and somehow timelessly “Classical”.

"As a guitarist, I feel I am now able to start out again with a whole new world of unfolding possibilities, made available to me thanks to David Rubio and the development of the Brahms Guitar."

Some press quotes about Paul Galbraith:

“What many had come to see and hear was the revolutionary change he has brought to playing the guitar … the results were truly remarkable, with an amazing clarity and a huge dynamic range… The audience was held spellbound.”

~ Sunday Times of London

“A landmark in the history of guitar”

~ Gramophone

“A new milestone of considerable impact on the history of guitar”

~ CBC - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

“The next step in the instrument''s evolution ... utterly convincing”

~ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

(for his Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by https://www.tradebit.comh) arr. for 8 string guitar.

“Magnificently played, thoughtful and majestic performances.”

~ Gramophone

“Exhilarating beyond compare ... a joy.”

~ Guitar Review

“A breathtaking performance [of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez] ... Exquisitely beautiful ... Vivaldi’s D major Lute Concerto ... was transparent and luminous.”

~ Knoxville News-Sentinel

“Pure magic.”

~ Santa Barbara News-Press

“Glowed with dexterity and genius ... one of the premier living classic guitarists.”

~ Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal

“Worth travelling long distances to hear.”

~ The Guardian (U.K.)

“Galbraith’s playing is a joy to listen to. It has intensity of focus and immediacy of expression that are unique in the guitar world.”

~ American Record Guide

“An extraordinary musician ... made familiar music [Vivaldi’s Concerto in D] uncommonly tender and uncommonly clear.”

~ San Jose Mercury News

“His musicality is so ‘authentic’ that every note carries the hallmark of truth ... He held his audience in rapt silence as if spellbound by some magician.”

~ The Scotsman

“An awesome session played on a unique instrument ... I just don’t have enough two-dollar words to describe it!”

~ Folk Calendar

“Gracefully phrased, beautifully balanced ... imagination and coloristic variety.”

~ The New York Times

“Exceptional artistry.”

~ The New Yorker

“[His Bach] had a soaring dignity ... [he made Debussy’s Children’s Corner] sing on guitar, as if it belonged there, all dreamily rippling textures and lucid, tender spirit.”

~ Los Angeles Times

“Wonderful ... a master musician.”

~ Dallas Morning News

“Galbraith is a legend in classic guitar circles ... [His performance] verged on an epiphany ... teeming with life and variation.”

~ Santa Barbara News-Press

“I fell in love with a combination of artist, instrument and music ... Everything sounded like a masterpiece that evening.”

~ Classical Guitar

“He has not only mastered his instrument technically but has the ability to gain access into its inner mysteries.”

~ Classical Guitar

“It is difficult to sum up the brilliance of Galbraith’s artistry ... I first saw him perform in an intimate, stone chapel ... He brought tears to the eyes of some ... Sheer brilliance.”

~ CD Reviews

“Galbraith has made something of a sensation in the guitar world ... extraordinarily skillful, cohesive and (the right word here) passionate performances ... remarkable depth of feeling.”

~ Stereo Review

“A sense of excitement and curiosity prevailed among the gathering crowd [at Galbraith''s N.Y. début at the Frick Collection] … there was much to anticipate ... it was clear that Mr. Galbraith''s technique was not a gimmick, but a tool to create music ... a memorable and musically convincing concert”

~ Guitar Review
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