The hot young whippersnapper vs. the seasoned maestro. Which is more exciting? Which is more satisfying at the end of the day? In the latest in my series of increasingly ridiculous comparisons (which are always a good excuse to listen to some good music) let’s see if we prefer the young or the, ahem, mature. Here are Bream and Williams as kids playing some standard repertoire and then as full-fledged guitar gods, playing the same pieces many years later.

Here’s a young Bream playing Villa Lobos’ Choro #1 (sorry for the audio quality).

And a head of hair later playing the same piece.

And here’s Williams playing Asturias and looking very 1975.

And playing the same piece some time later.

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26 Responses to “Youth vs. The Other Thing”

  1. It is always fun and exciting to see a young musician perform a dazzling piece of music. Where the magic is found is in communication, and it is very rare to find a young musician who has had enough life experience to be able to fully convey the music’s inner meanings, and to provide some of their own musical ideas (and not their teacher’s).

  2. Lawrence Tendler says:

    IMHO…no contest.Bream is much better in later years than he was in his youth ,much more developed and mature which is only natural.

  3. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Actually ,Bream is pretty damn good younger and older and his sound is wonderful .Williams ,for my ears and taste ,sounds much better on his Fleta guitar in the 1975 video ,the australian guitar in the later clip sounds artificial and ugly.

  4. Lawrence Tendler says:

    John Williams 1975 was in dire need of a good haircut ,but at least he played a decent guitar back then.

    • I could not disagree more. The sound is much more full and clear in the later recording. there is also a larger tonal palette. It could be the different hall or the recording technique however. As to the haircut- I suspect Williams would love to be able to have the same hair as he did 30+ years earlier.

  5. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Billy ,the sound quality of the earlier Williams recording is not very good .I can assure you that Fleta guitars are in a different league from the australian dead sounding guitars. Williams does not realize just how bad he sounds on his current guitar.

  6. Lawrence Tendler says:

    To Billy Stewart ,with all due respect ,the Williams video clip from 1975 has awful sound quality and does not do him nor his guitar justice. I once tried a Fleta guitar made in the early 1970s or late 50s.I only played half a dozen notes but the guitar was head and shoulders above all other guitars ,and ones I have heard live played by other guitarists sounded like the best sounding guitars in the world,which they were by a long chalk. The Smallman has one thing going for it: BIG VOLUME LOUD .But it has no quality of sound.When you develop your hearing more ,you will also come to realize this.And Williams is still the greatest living classical guitarist but has poor judgement in his choice of guitars lately.

  7. Lawrence Tendler says:

    My error ,I intended to say I once tried a Fleta from the 1970s or late 60s .

  8. Lawrence Tendler says:

    The later williams recording was in a good acoustic and with good microphones etc.

  9. Greg Pellar says:

    It is not about the guitar. Either player can make a lowely cordoba guitar sound much better than the people making comments about Fleta vs. Smallman. Part of the interpretation is the choice of instrument. In this case all are very spectacular.

  10. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Dear Greg ,it is about the guitar ,at least in part .While it is true that Bream sounds like Bream on any guitar ,I find the smallman disagreeable ,so much so that I am unable to listen to them . I simply can not bear to listen to Williams playing on it

  11. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Greg ,if the guitar is so unimportant ,why did Bream play Hauser and Bouchet ,and not a guitar by Cordoba or Alhambra ??

  12. Lawrence Tendler says:

    To Greg ,I have heard John Williams both live in concert halls and on record and television dozens of times over the past thirty -five years and I have several , if not all of his recordings. I can honestly declare that not even Williams can make a smallman sound good ,sadly. And without beauty of sound ,the guitar has very little to offer . The fact that Williams ,or Russell ,or Aussell or Bream do not choose to play guitars by cordoba should answer your question.

  13. Lawrence Tendler says:

    One more thing Greg ,I have owned guitars by : Plazuelo ,Ramirez ,Bernabe , Manzanero ,Rozas ,Fernandez ,Perez ,Raya Pardo , Abreu and others and I can tell you it absolutely is about the guitar ,assuming one can already play well .The folk at guitar salon do not sell guitars costing big $$$ for no reason.

  14. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Greg Pellar , I do not wish to insult you but you have obviously never played a really fine guitar .If you had you would not have made such a comment.

  15. Lawrence Tendler says:

    A FINAL WORD : The choice of guitar SHOULD be unimportant .It only becomes an issue and important when it can not deliver the beautiful sounds the traditional guitar is famous for A fine guitar allows the player to produce beautiful ,musical and varied sounds and adds to the magic and enjoyment.A guitar which can not do that will only frustrate the player who ,however talented he /she is ,will be unable to sound his or her best . I have played guitars which I sound magnificent on ,and others which I could do nothing with .

  16. Lawrence Tendler says:

    One can not get blood out of a stone neither produce good sounds on an inferior guitar , even Segovia could not do that.

  17. Lawrence Tendler says:

    The recordings by Bream in his later years are magnificent ,his interpretations of Bach and Castelnuovo are wonderful and atmospheric .He was simply at his peak . And his Bach chaconne is terrific .The great pianist Busoni recommended that one study the chaconne for forty years before performing it because it is a very deep piece ,which is a bit extreme of course but he was referring to maturity. So ,although this is just my personal opinion ,Bream has matured magnificently like a fine wine .Williams was always brilliant and wonderful even from a very young age ,he is just an older version but I like to think that most artistes improve and mature with age.The problem is ,physically our bodies deteriorate with age.

  18. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Greg : one more thing .I would rather play a ” lowly ” guitar by cordoba than play a smallman lattice ,they are not to my liking. I am not a snob ,a good guitar is a good guitar and I have played inexpensive guitars which were fantastic.

  19. Lawrence Tendler says:

    My feeling is that the playing of Williams has not significantly changed over the years ,he was always brilliant and perfect and remains consistent ,sometimes boringly so .Bream though has greatly improved over the years IMHO. His sound and his playing has deepened and matured.

  20. Sean says:

    Lawerence Tendler, You are a snob…

  21. Charly says:

    Is Bream playing JAZZ on his Hauser ???


  22. Dear Lawrence, congratulations for telling it the way it is re the “honky”, “banjo in a tin shed” sounding Australian “techno” guitars. As an Aussie guitarist who has been there since the outset of this madness, I am glad to hear you come out and bravely express your views.I have owned more than 20 Fletas,(including both ex. John Williams 61 and 72) as well as Aguados, Bouchet, Hauser, Rubio etc.so I have a good understanding of great traditional master guitars. Best wishes, Jason

  23. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Thank you Jason.

  24. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Jason ,the mere thought of all those Fletas and Hauser and bouchets makes me go all weak at the knees and makes me drool.

  25. Jason says:

    As a very amateur guitar player I can definitley say that I would love to have even a quarter of the talent these guys have whether young or older. I enjoyed all the clips!


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