|Review by Jan Hanford:|
John Bullard has attracted international attention for his work in developing and transcribing classical repertoire for the five-string banjo. And the attention is well-deserved. This recording is a beautiful collection of familiar baroque pieces performed on banjo, guitar, mandolin, cello, violin and harpsichord. Usually, it is just the banjo and guitar playing in duet. Just to be clear: these are not bluegrass renditions of baroque music, they are straightforward, authentic and lovely performances of exact transcriptions from the originals.
In this recording the banjo becomes an instrument the equal to any of its baroque relatives. The short decay and overtone resonance of the banjo evokes an old-world sound usually reserved for authentic-instruments performances. One can easily imagine that if the banjo had existed in 18th century Europe that it would now have its own often-performed classical repertoire.
John is an accomplished musician, presenting a variety of tone color, beautifully executed ornamentation, and a sensitive interpretation. These pieces become fragile and intimate in his hands and the overall effect is peaceful and austere. He and the other musicians on the recording contribute to the transcriptions and they've done a masterful job. The use of single bowed string instruments for the Vivaldi Concerto maintains the feeling of intimacy and allows the banjo solo to take centre stage.
I highly recommend this recording, especially to fans of the guitar but also to Baroque music lovers in general. This recording proves that Bach is truly for everyone. I find it exciting that every musician has the power and ability to adapt Bach for their favorite instrument and make it their own; giving us the opportunity to benefit from their love of the music and also to hear it in a new way.
This cd is available from John Bullard's web site http://www.bullardintl.com/music/music3.html where you can also listen to audio samples.
Also see his other recording The Classical Banjo.