'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ritual Fire Dance - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky New Release

This album was recorded without any edits, and on one track minus a shirt...all the playing is real and as it happened! The cover photo was taken at Hampton Court Palace during a break from recording in the beer cellar for BBC Radio.

It features an eclectic mix of composers including Domenico Scarlatti, Fernando Sor, Felix Mendelssohn, Pierre Petit, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mauro Guiliani, Manuel de Falla, Jan Marten Komter, Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky.

The album also features a traditional Jota, arranged by Hill/Wiltschinsky and two Elizabethan lute duets, the first, Le Rossignol is anonymous and the second, My Lord Chamberlian's Galliard by John Dowland.

The opening Scarlatti sonata was the product of many hours recording and finally the duo got it to their satisfaction. Robin sprang out of his seat to celebrate, went straight to an upright piano in the corner of the room and started to play some boogie-woogie. After some time an inexperienced, stand-in engineer announced to the studio, "You'll be pleased to hear I recorded that." "Not over the Scarlatti I hope?" replied Robin.
Unfortunately it was...
The duo had to start the process all over again, but a fine version resulted.

After finally getting the second Scarlatti recording the duo decided to have a break, as it was late in the evening by this point. They visited a local pub, had a few beers and returned to the studio where they then recorded Felix Mendelssohn's beautiful 'Song Without Words'. I feel this actually added a certain mellow dimension to the recording.

For some inexplicable reason, during the recording of Mauro Guiliani's Variazioni Conertanti, track 13, Robin's microphone was picking up the friction between his shirt and guitar quite loudly. After much experimentation he eventually took his shirt off and recorded the track bare chested which seemed to solve the problem!

The traditional Jota, track 3, with its blistering triplet variation was recorded first take!

The Ritual Fire Dance, track 15, was played for many years by the duo as the final item on their programme and always elicited an encore.

You can hear excerpts of this album on iTunes, Amazon and all the usual digital outlets.

Here are the liner notes, by John W Duarte:

Notes by John W. Duarte

Spain is the only country in which the guitar, in its various evolutionary forms, has played an uninterrupted part in the national music culture, yet the common description of the guitar as “Spanish” does not truly accord with the historical facts. The early (four and five-course) guitars were in use throughout Europe, the instrument in its present “classic” form probably first appeared in Italy or Austria, and only in the last decades of the 19th century and the first few of the 20th might it be said that the guitar’s centre of gravity lay firmly in Spain. Andrés Segovia reminded the rest of the world that the guitar is a beautiful and resourceful instrument, and that they were wrong in having allowed it to fall into neglect. The lesson was quickly learnt and the guitar resumed its internationality; it is now a “world” instrument in every respect, but it is from Europe that its 20th century gospel has spread.

The guitar, like the keyboard and the harp, is both a melodic and a harmonic instrument, which permits it to “borrow” music written for other media, and to present it with a fresh face. Most of Domenico Scarlatti’s 555+ sonatas for the harpsichord (another plucked string instrument) were written in Iberia, to test the mettle of his pupil Maria Barbara (a Portuguese princess who later became a Spanish queen). The didactic purpose of the Sonata K141 is clear, the rapidly reiterated notes: in some other sonatas Scarlatti marked such passages: “mutandi i detti” (alternate the fingers), which is exactly what a guitarist does here! Duets for two plucked-string fretted instruments have been a companionable activity for many centuries, a Canone a due liuti is among the works of Francisco Canova da Milano (1497-1543) and, such instruments being portable, they have been beloved of friendly amateurs - like Jane Pickering, who enjoyed making music with her friends and in whose lute-book (c1616) Le rossignol (the nightingale) is to be found. It is an ‘equal’ duet, in which the two players ‘converse’ on an equal footing. Duets in which both players share the same instrument (e.g. four hands on one piano) came later. John Dowland, the greatest lutenist of his time, may have been the first in the field with My Lord Chamberlaine his Galliard, “an invention for two to play upon one lute”, another ‘equal’ duet, in which the players balletically exchange roles - but not here. The music is sufficient in itself and the humour is in any case not visible in a recording!

Much keyboard music translates to two guitars, and when it is of a romantic character the marriage is a particularly happy one, as it is with the Song without Words Op19/1 of Mendelssohn. His eight cycles of Lieder ohne Worte are a recognition that an instrument, no less than a voice, can ‘sing’, as one guitar does here whilst the other provides the accompaniment. The sound of the guitar is rooted in the consciousness of most Spanish composers, so that two guitars can convincingly project the essence of the exciting Ritual Fire Dance from Falla’s ballet El amor bruno (Love the Magician), without need of the weight of sound of the original orchestral form.

Traditional songs and dances are not the special ‘property’ of any particular musical medium, but may happily be dressed in a wide variety of ways. The Irish folk song, The Lark in the Morning, with its bird-like trills, and the Jota, a Spanish dance whose simple ground opened the door to some flamboyant variations, provide excellent and contrasted examples of what may be added to such material through creative arrangements for two guitars.

When it comes to music that is directly written for the guitar, no-one does it more effectively than a composer who plays the instrument and knows its capabilities intimately. Fernando Sor, a Spaniard whose career carried him as far east as Russia and as far west as London, wrote 13 Fantasias of which the Fantasia Op.54 bis is the only one for guitar duo; the theme of the final movement was used by the Danish choreographer Auguste Bournonville in his ballet The Toreador (1840). Mauro Giuliani, an Italian virtuoso who moved to Vienna to enhance his career - and back again to Italy to escape the arm of the Viennese law, is often referred to as Sor’s “rival”; be that as it may, they were the two leading players of their time. Giuliani’s prolific compositional output (he had an avid Viennese salon public to satisfy) included many sets of variations; In the Variazioni concertanti the theme (probably Giuliani’s own) is preceded by an imposing introduction and followed by six contrasting variations in which he exploits the technical potential of two virtuoso players - who may originally have been Giuliani himself and his daughter Emilia.

Among the later guitarist/composers who have written for the duo medium are: Dimitris Fampas, whose romantic and ‘stateless’ Fantasie (dedicated to the Greek duo Evangelos and Liza) bears no trace of his Greek origins, Jan Marten Komter, the Managing Director of a Dutch chemical firm, amateur guitarist and flautist, the composer of the Milan Suite, with its overt references to the pavans of its eponym, the 16th-century Spanish vinuelista Luis Milan, and Robin Hill, whose Rondo for two guitars is in the classical mould (with earlier Iberian echoes of Padre Antonio Solar), and whose charming Canzone is one of a set of three studies for two guitars.

The remaining music on this disc is by composers that did not play the guitar but who nevertheless wrote generously for it. Jean Absil, a Belgian, composed for most musical media and his style ranged from the uncompromising to the accessible - as it is in his Three Pieces (1963) for guitar duo, from which the Musette comes; the pieces carry “baroque” titles but the music fulfils neither the promise nor the threat (according to your point of view!) of matching pastiche. Pierre Petit, erstwhile Director of Light Music for French Radio and TV, critic and composer, was one of many who were inspired to write for two guitars by the Duo Presti-Lagoya (which ended with the death of Ida Presti in 1967). The driving rhythms of the outer sections of his Toccata are interrupted by two slow, jazz-tinged episodes, and the work ends in a blaze of virtuosity. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, a refugee from Mussolini’s Italy, emigrated to the U.S.A., finally settling in Beverly Hills. In his prodigious output of music he was unusually generous to the guitar; in this the original catalyst was Andrés Segovia, one of those who sponsored his entry into the U.S.A., but in the last year of his life he was equally captivated by Presti-Lagoya for whom he wrote (amongst other things) Les guitares bien-temperees, Op.199 (1962), prelude-and-fugue pairings in all major and minor keys. In this he followed the example of Bach’s Das Wohltemperierte Klavier but the pairings are differently ordered thus the Prelude and Fugue in F# minor are No. 13 in the series, not No. 14 as Bach had them. Neither is the musical language of Bach, it is Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s own.

John W. Duarte

Monday, February 15, 2016

'She Loves You' from 'Classic Beatles' by Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky

Early last year we released an album, 'Classic Beatles' which you can read about here, 'Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky'.

Today we thought it would be nice to hear one track in its entirety and accompanied by some photographs of the duo taken over the years.

'She Loves You' is a favourite of most Beatles fans and therefore required a sensitive approach to maintain the essence of the piece.
In this arrangement, by Robin, he uses many techniques to grab the listeners attention, such as the canon, counterpoint and some breath taking triplets at about a minute in.

You can hear more examples from the album on iTunes, Amazon and in fact many digital outlets.

Also, for those who may want to try playing these pieces, or many others, there is a large catalogue of sheet music on our website, under Hillhouse Editions Sheet Music.

So, here is 'She Loves You'.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Robin Hill - 'Guitar Dimensions' New Release!

We are pleased to announce the release of 'Guitar Dimensions' which features pieces for guitar and orchestra and solo guitar, from jazz through flamenco to classical.
Some pieces here are well known favourites, others have never previously been heard.

The album notes, found below, were written by Robin and provide further information about each piece.

Samples of 'Guitar Dimensions' can be heard on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. It is available as digital download and also, via our website, on CD.

Guitar Dimensions

‘Take Five’ was one of the first pieces of music to make a real impact on me. When I first heard it I was probably around 10 years of age. My father had taken me for a guitar lesson and two of the teachers were playing it as a duet. It immediately connected with me and I remember getting the sheet music. In my arrangement, for guitar solo, I make use of percussive effects with the right hand while the left hand keeps the riff going. The tune, of course, was made famous by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and was composed by alto player, Paul Desmond (1924-1977).

The ‘Celtic Concerto’ by myself is a reflection of my love for traditional celtic music.
The piece consists of six movements of which three can be heard here – ‘For Turlough’ inspired by, and dedicated to, the great Irish harpist and composer, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) This starts with the solo guitar stating the main theme sparsely accompanied by pizzicato basses, cellos and percussion. The full orchestra then takes over accompanied by the guitar. The mood is optimistic and the atmosphere vibrant.
‘Return to Islay’ was inspired by a visit to this beautiful Hebridean island and reflects the simplicity, and the beauty, of its unspoilt character.
‘Rakes of Kildare’ is based on a traditional theme with the first statement by solo guitar. This is a lively jig with much merriment and good humour.

‘Canon’, by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) is his most well-known and loved composition. It was first recorded in 1940 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Although originally in D, I prefer the resonance of Eb in my arrangement, using a capo at the first fret.

‘Jota California’ is from another piece for guitar & orchestra in six movements by myself. The Spanish jota is always a lively affair with much hand clapping and invariably accompanied by castanets.

The ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ by Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999), was composed in Paris in 1939 and premiered in Barcelona in 1940. The soloist, on that occasion was Regino Sainz de la Maza. The beautiful adagio is the essential core of the concerto and passes through many different moods until it reaches its logical conclusion. In her autobiography, Victoria, Rodrigo’s wife, eventually declared that the adagio was a response to their devastation at the miscarriage of her first pregnancy. I first performed the concerto in Liverpool with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis.

‘Fiesta de Xabia’ was composed in Spain on a family holiday. It represents the excitement, bravura and vibrancy of a Spanish fiesta.
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) composed his ‘Pavane’ Op.50 in 1887. It was originally for solo piano.
Fauré modestly described it as, ‘elegant but not otherwise important.’ The piece’s rhythm comes from the slow, processional Spanish court dance of the same name. It is highly melodic and beautifully haunting and evolves through a series of sophisticated harmonies to its inevitable conclusion. The piece enjoyed immediate popularity which it has retained to the present day.

Claude Bolling’s (b. 1930) ‘Hispanic Dance’ is the first movement of his ‘Concerto for Classic Guitar & Jazz Piano Trio’. It is basically a lively, sparkling dialogue between the guitar and piano with the double bass and drums supplying the underlying pulse. I gave the first UK performance of the piece in Liverpool in 1981. There are six more movements in the concerto all of which I have recorded with my quartet, Eklectica.

John Dowland (1563-1626) was the greatest lutenist of his day. A contemporary account of his playing said, ‘his touch upon the lute doth ravish all human sense.’ He was renowned for his introspective temperament and this is surely reflected in his ‘Melancholy Galliard’ . However ‘My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe’ illustrates a completely different side to his character. The piece is ebullient and demonstrates that the composer possessed a wicked sense of humour. My Lady Hunsdon is pilloried for her lack of ‘puffe’ i.e. stamina……she was a keen dancer but rather unfit….in the second section of the piece she is heard to slow down and to become rather breathless…

Stanley Myers (1930-1993) was a British composer who also wrote the theme music for BBC’s ‘Question Time’. ‘Cavatina’ was originally used in the film, ‘The Walking Stick’
but later, and much more famously, it was used on the soundtrack, and as the main theme, for ‘The Deer Hunter’.

The ‘Gavotte en Rondeau’ by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) comes from his Fourth Lute Suite and was one of the first pieces I heard played by the great Andres Segovia (1983-1987). Although originally composed for the solo violin and/or the lute clavichord, it embodies for me the very quintessence of the classical guitar. In this recording I play the piece with a capo at the first fret and on a Manuel Reyes flamenco guitar circa 1963. The sonority of F major and the Reyes seem to work for me. The ‘Prelude from 1st. Cello Suite’, however, is played on my 1980 Miguel Rodriguez. This, for me, is such an optimistic piece and a justly famous work.

Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909) composed ‘Rumores de la Caleta’ for the solo piano.
It is, however, steeped in the flamenco music of Andalusia. I have arranged it with this very much in mind…the introduction featuring an extended improvised section leading into the original piece.

‘La Paloma’ by Sebastian Iradier was composed in 1863 following a visit to Cuba. Its ascent to worldwide popularity was rapid and it was performed by many artists from very
diverse genres. This arrangement is by Francisco Tarrega the composer of much original music for the guitar and also the arranger of many classic pieces by Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and many more….

The ‘Fantasia X’ by Alonso Mudarra (1510 – 1580) is subtitled ‘Fantasia que contrhaza la harpa en la manera de Ludovico’. This is translated as ‘fantasia which imitates the harp in the manner of Ludovico’
Ludovico was a well-known virtuoso harpist of the era. This is an extraordinary piece. It contains, in addition to the obvious and highly effective, campanella, harp-like effects, syncopation, dissonance and a wry sense of humour. Mudarra states on the score: ‘from here to the end there are some wrong notes – but, if you play them well they will sound fine.’
The piece was originally composed for the vihuela, the Spanish equivalent of the lute and an instrument which was widely popular in Spain during the 1500s.

On this recording I use three different guitars. They are: a Miguel Rodriguez ‘churchdoor’ 1976, a Miguel Rodriguez 1980 and a Manuel Reyes flamenco 1963.

Robin Hill

Special thanks to:

Nick McCloud for his invaluable computer expertise.
Chris Hughes of Oscillate Studios for his great work mixing and mastering this recording.
Ray Kennan (of Bingley) for his constant enthusiasm.
Pip and David for their support and enthusiasm.
Pugwash the studio dog for her high fidelity.
My sons, Felix and Oliver, for enduring, and constantly living with, the recording process.
My wife , Anna, for her keen ears, cold nose, opinions and support.


Robin Hill was born in Yorkshire, England. His first instrument, at age seven, was the violin. At 10 he started to play the guitar, which he studied at music college and later participated in master classes with the eminent Venezuelan guitarist, Alirio Diaz.
In the early 1970s Robin met fellow guitarist, Peter Wiltschinsky and, together, in 1973, they formed the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo, a highly successful partnership with a large archive of recordings (they recorded for Teldec Classics, Hyperion (debut album), ASV, RCA, Erato, Telstar, IMP Classics, Carlton Classics, Warner Bros. and many more. The duo have made numerous radio and television broadcasts and have toured extensively worldwide.
In 1997, Robin performed Joaquin Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (under Carl Davis) to an audience of three thousand. The same year Robin also gave the premiere of his own 'Concerto Primavera' with the same orchestra under the conductor, Ian Tracey. He has to date composed four other concertos - three for guitar and one for piano.
Robin gave the UK premiere of Claude Bolling's 'Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano Trio', a work he has also recorded with his quartet, Eklectica.
Robin has collaborated with artists as diverse as Luciano Pavarotti, soprano Lesley Garrett, tenor Russell Watson, American soprano Denise Greaves (at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Philharmonic) to British rock bands Deep Purple and Jethro Tull and he has toured extensively with the American jazz/soul singer, Madeline Bell.
His book 'The Guitar Gymnasium' is used in conservatories throughout the world.
Robin's musical travels constantly take him all over the world.

'As always it was a great pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique. Everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper – Classical Guitar Magazine UK

'Charismatic – a world class performance!' St Louis Dispatch - USA

'Daunting technique' Acoustic Guitar magazine - USA

'Wonderful for precision, touch and virtuosity, the result of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia - Italy

Monday, June 29, 2015

Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium Podcast No 2 - The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo Part 1

After the more technical podcast No.1 on right hand technique which can be found here, Podcast No.2 looks at the history of the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo with some musical examples and also some inside information on the murkier side of the music industry...

Robin's Book, 'The Guitar Gymnasium' can be found here.

During the podcast Robin mentions the duo's first album, which originally started with the Bach Invention No.8, there is a reissue of it here.

And here are the sleeve notes from the initial release:

Colin Cooper - Sleevenotes Hill/Wiltschinsky debut album on Hyperion Records

The brilliance of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya set standards of duo guitar playing that have seldom been equalled. The form is a difficult one. Accuracy and precision are of course prime essentials, but the best duos are welded together by something more: a unity of purpose, a spirit of excitement and even adventure, an ability not only to play as one instrument but also to think as one musician.
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky, on the evidence of this recording, have that rare capacity. Their performances are alive, zestful, invigorating. It will make new friends for their exuberant playing, and new friends too for the guitar duo form, in which so much can be accomplished.
Some of the pieces are familiar; some not so familiar, though they deserve to be. All are hugely enjoyable. Hill and Wiltschinsky demonstrate their very wide range by adapting their style successfully to every new requirement, from the English lute tradtion of John Johnson to the 20th century French composer Pierre Petit. The Bach Invention that opens the recital could scarcely have been better chosen; light, airy, fast, it nourishes as it dazzles - perfection in 44 seconds (but length is never a prerequisite of great music). And has the Queen of Sheba ever made so exhilarating an arrival?
It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to introduce this remarkable record - as much pleasure as I think it is going to give those who listen to it.

Podcast No.2:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium Podcast No 1 - Right Hand Technique

Today we celebrate the first podcast of Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium.
Robin will be making these audio recordings regularly and the subjects will vary widely to reflect his diverse interest and eclectic tastes.

The first one concerns the improvement of right hand technique on the classical guitar.
Robin talks about the 120 right hand exercises by Italian virtuoso guitarist and composer Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) and gives his personal insight and methodology behind his own approach to this classic work.

Here is Podcast No.1:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky

The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo have long been Beatles fans so it seemed natural that at some point they would record their own versions of these incredible songs on this Classic Beatles album.

Some of these pieces have been performed live, especially Eleanor Rigby which the duo frequently played as a much appreciated encore. When introducing it Robin often mentioned the following story:

A journalist once asked George Harrison what he thought of Andrés Segovia and his reply was, 'He's the Daddy of us all."

This got back to the Maestro, who said, "These pop stars might be nice boys but what they are doing is obscene and a disease...I do not like the way the girls go crazy.'

This always caused much mirth amongst the audience.

With these arrangements Hill/Wiltschinsky hope to redress the balance and show that the music of Lennon and McCartney is of such a high quality that it can stand many forms of interpretation.

The whole process was an intense one as they each took half of the 32 songs so that both did an equal amount of arranging. As in the relationship between Lennon and McCartney, the desire to create interesting and unique arrangements to these well known songs fuelled Robin and Peter to become more and more creative.

Sometimes the title alone suggested an arranging approach.
A good example of this is, 'I'll Be Back', which Robin punned as, 'I'll Be Bach', and arranged in a Baroque style.

Another, 'Hard Day's Night', which he thought of as, 'Hard Day's Knight', and arranged in an Elizabethan Lute style.

Who would have thought that, 'She Loves You', would work on two guitars successfully? This one was imagined as a real guitar duo and features many compositional devices such as canon, counterpoint etc.

The hope was always that people would pick up on the many more hidden references and inspiration throughout the album. Even the introductions to many of the pieces present a mystery as to which famous Beatles track will be heard.

You can find, Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky here on iTunes or cdbaby and from many other digital outlets.

As always, many thanks to Jonathan Keenan for the cover photography.


Friday, October 17, 2014

New Sheet Music for Guitar by Robin Hill - Arrangements of Bach & Pachelbel

After Robin's many years as both performer and composer it is not surprising that huge amounts of both hand written and printed scores abound around our home. For anyone associated with a musician it will probably be no surprise to hear that this music can turn up in the most unexpected places. A Fandango in the Freezer for example...

But in our case much of the music is either original compositions or arrangements.
We have a vast archive of guitar duo, solo, orchestral, guitar & flute etc.etc. There are literally hundreds of pieces of music.

So it is with great excitement that I can announce that we are gradually going to release these arrangements as digital sheet music.

The difficult part was deciding where to begin, so, we have opted for a selection of two very well known classics and an original piece by Robin.

'Canon' by Johann Pachelbel. Arranged by Robin Hill

Pachelbel's 'Canon' is such a beautiful piece of music it isn't surprising it is so popular. Although some arrangements for guitar of this classic are available Robin felt he would like to create something new which would be idiomatic for the guitar.

It is 7 pages long and contains some new, original material and has been well received in concert.
Our edition includes both standard notation, with fingering, and also tablature.
You can find it here.

'Prelude No.1' from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' by Johann Sebastian Bach. Arranged by Robin Hill

Originally in C major Robin has transposed and arranged this piece into the more guitar friendly key of E major. 'Prelude No.1', from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' is 5 pages long and includes fingering and tablature. You can find it here.

'Return to Islay' By Robin Hill

'Return to Islay' is an original composition inspired by a visit to the beautiful Hebridean Island. The piece reflects the island's simple, natural beauty and has proved a very popular, and often requested, concert item.
You can hear Robin playing Return to Islay here and the sheet music can be found here.

'The Guitar Gymnasium' by Robin Hill

Or to give it its full title, 'The Guitar Gymnasium, A Mental and Physical Workout, Designed to Develop Flawless Technique.'
I have written about this book before, 'Performance and Practice,' and 'Musical Practice Tips.'

It is available instantly here, or from the warehouse here.

We will be adding to this catalogue of available pieces over time so please check back regularly.