In offering a brief aural history f the present-day guitar's ancestry this recording mirrors the first LP of Julian Bream's album ''Guitarra'' on RCA (RL85417, 5/85), introducing the same instruments used by Bream were made by the contemporary luthier Jose Romanillos, whereas North uses only three modern reproductions, the remaining six being originals: c. 1590, c. 1760, 1818, c. 1825, 1828 and 1843.
The two players approach their tasks from different directions: North as an early-music specialist and Bream as a modern guitar virtuoso with a passionate love of early music. They differ also in that, unlike Bream, North does not use his right-hand nails in plucking the strings, and the two hold their right hands in quite different attitudes; the nett result is that North produces rounder, less brilliant sounds than Bream, reflecting the differences between their musical approaches. Make no mistake—North is a very fine technician and a very cultured and sensitive musician, but he lacks Bream's sparkle and intensity, particularly noticeable in Giuliani's Grande Ouverture in which a little Italianate extravagance is distinctly helpful. There are both gems (especially in the earlier, items) and fine curiosities amongst the music itself.
The two recordings provide a valuable comparison between the best of what we are now accustomed to hearing, and the sounds of greater historical truth; which ones speak the more eloquently to you is for you to decide. In North's recording all nine instruments were played at the same distance from the microphone, giving a clear impression of their relative volumes. Both LP and CD have exemplary sound; the latter form is particularly convenient when it comes to selecting from a programme of 19 items.'