Classical Guitar Magazine
Rosewood Recordings ROSE1010 CD
This disc of music from France, Germany, Spain and South America spanning four centuries, showcases Texan guitarist Jason Williams who puts in a bravura performance
on this, his first recording. Having studied with the likes of Jose Luis Rodrigo and Stanley Yates and taken part in master classes with David Russell, Eliot Fisk, Eduardo Fernandez, Scott Tenant and Costas Cotsiolis, one would anyhow have high expectations from a performer with those names on his C.V. and he does not disappoint. Technically, Williams displays an enviable grasp of the difficulties of the classical guitar when tackling music of this complexity and he here proves he is up to all the challenges.
Musically, for the most part, Williams shows he is a musician of depth: rarely has the Falla piece – his one and only work for solo guitar – been imbued with the passion which is evident here. This fervour infiltrates through into his interpretation of the unfortunately rarely-heard Turina Sonata; it is renditions such as the one heard on this disc which makes it even more puzzling why this piece does not appear on recordings and recitals more regularly.
The mammoth 6th Cello Suite, here arranged by Stanley Yates, is an admirable and challenging addition to this programme although occasionally I found the playing a little on the heavy-handed side, some of faster ‘slurred’ passages being slightly indistinct due to the excessive speed. Personally I would have preferred a slightly slower tempo in parts in order for the gracefulness and refinement to get through, but this is probably being a bit ‘picky’.
The Dyens and Pujol works are given splendid performances on this disc, well up there with the best of them and it really is the 20th century compositions on this programme where this player really shines.
The recording quality is good, as is the presentation which includes copious sleeve notes.
- Steve Marsh
Dallas Classic Guitar Society
Dallas Museum of Art Series
In his Debut for the Dallas Classic Guitar Society, Jason Williams made clear that he has a bright future ahead of him. Radiating poise and confidence, Williams displayed command of his instrument yesterday during his performance for the society’s Dallas Museum of Art Concert Series.
After warming up with a pair of Phantasias by German composer David Kellner, the young guitarist jumped head-long into a pair of self-transcribed Scarlatti sonatas.
On the first, the technically difficult Sonata in E minor K. 232, Williams expertly handled a number of complex twists and turns while at the same tie keeping an ear out or the abrupt shifts in dynamics which are so integral in effective performance of the piece.
As well as he might have played the first sonata, the second — Sonata in A minor K. 175 showed why the guitarists was out there on the Horchow Auditorium stage in the first place. Following the piece’s somber opening chords, Williams gently laid a plaintive melody over a delicate waltz accompaniment, coaxing every last bit of emotion from the line. Shifting to a flurry of sixteenth note arpeggios, the guitarist delivered an impassioned performance of the work, injecting it with equal bits of melancholy and yearning.
Williams’ musicianship shone especially bright in his evocative reading of the Spanish composer Eduardo Sainz de la Maza’s Platero y Yo. In a performance that demonstrated his varied strengths, Williams showered gentle harmonies over one movement while uncovering a gorgeous melody hidden in a bed of luxurious, arpeggiated chords in another. The guitarist’s thoughtful reading of the works penultimate movement served as an example of his keen ear for phrasing, as well s his ability to make a gentle, sublime musical statement.
But Williams can also set off some fireworks. Closing with French composer Roand Dyens’ Libra Sonatine, the guitarist pulled out all the stops, using ringing harmonics, impassioned rasgueado strumming and even percussive hand slaps on the body of the guitar to bring Dyens’ creation to life. Coaxing a range of tonal colors from the instrument at the onset, Williams wound his way through the work to a furious rhythmic flourish that brought the concert to an exhilarating close.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Seattle Classic Guitar Society
Frye Art Museum Concert Series
A World of Guitar at the Frye not only brings performers from all over the world, but also provides a venue for our own Northwest guitar talent. Last season’s included Seattle’s Jason Williams. transplant from Texas, Jason teaches at Western Washington university and gives private lessons at Rosewood Guitar in Seattle. Jason’s program included J.S Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 in D major (BWV 1012), but focused on more modern composers Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), Máximo Diego Pujol (b. 1957) Joaquín Turina(1882-1949) and Roland Dyens (b.1955). His performance was characterized throughout by effortless technique, master of all voices and nuances of the guitar (which this more modern music allowed him to explore), and his impeccable musicianship. Jason has an amazing power to bring these very challenging pieces to vibrant life. His concert was a great opportunity to hear works of more modern composers, and was a particularly sonorous and moving performance.
- Guitar Soundings
Musique de cérémonie, vol. 4
CEREMONIAL MUSIC, VOL. 4
Arranged for solo guitar by Jason Williams DZ 2119.
Les Editions d'Oz
This collection is primarily aimed at the guitarist who performs at weddings, private functions and the like. It probably offers a more practical approach to this type of music than a lot of other editions. For an example two pieces from the contents - Prelude from the 1 st Cello Suite (Bach) and Canon (Pachelbel) - are both presented in two different keys, C and D major (with 6th string tuned to D); the idea here being that if a situation occurs where two pieces are required back to back (one for the bridesmaids, one for the bride), no retuning is necessary if the C major version is used. Also, the arrangements have been kept to a relatively simple standard (Intermediate-ish) with plentiful fingering to assist playability. Anyone wishing to fill out these pieces with more full-bodied harmonies should not have too much difficulty in building upon what is here presented.
The music has been well chosen with J. S. Bach having the lion's share with such as Arioso, Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring, Sheep May Safely Graze, Air on the G String, Sleeper's Awake and Prelude No. 1. Elsewhere there are works by Beethoven, Charpentier, Franck, Handel, Mendelssohn, Puccini, Satie, Brackett, Wagner and Vivaldi. Most work very well in these settings but there are a small number which I found didn't quite make the grade but overall these arrangements are very well prepared and make for a nice play-through.
-Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)