Mauro Giuliani (possibly the only good Giuliani you’ll hear about today) was one of the great guitarists of all time. His social network probably helped: his acquaintances included Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn and Rossini among others.
Oddly, he’s listed as part of the orchestra for the premiere of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony; he probably wasn’t strumming the guitar, although how spectacular would it be to hear a guitar in the mix of Beethoven’s epic work? (Fellow performers Meyerbeer and Hummel played the drums, while Ignaz Moscheles was on the cymbals).
Giuliani brought the guitar from the domain of troubadours into the classical repertoire, and his opus 30 is believed to be the first concerto composed for that instrument. Pairing it with two guitar concertos from Vivaldi (sometimes performed on the mandolin or lute), John Williams plays with polish and lightness, harkening back to the great technique of Andres Segovia.
Nereus Bell executed the artwork for this Columbia release, featuring bits of land floating in the clouds of a blue sky. Several guitarists are posed baroquely, along with a creepy cat’s head. Off on one side, another guy holds a swan as though it, too, is a stringed instrument.