For a player of the lute and the guitar, it is not an easy thing to achieve an intimate rapport with an audience of close to 3,000. But that is exactly what Julian Bream did so effortlessly yesterday at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
Bream's instruments aren't best suited to such large confines, because of their limited dynamics and sonorities. A smaller auditorium - let us say, Lisner - would be more appropriate for these delicate instruments, but that is impossible these days because of the present upsurge of interest in the guitar.
Bream compensates for this, though, with sheer personality. Before the concert there is nothing on the big stage but a stool and a foot pad. It looks pretty bleak. Bream then comes out, sits down, immediately declares, "Would you please bear with me because I forgot my music?", and then goes backstage again.
When Bream returns beaming, the audience is with him. But for one exception he gave a verbal introduction to each piece, particularly helpful in the lute works, which made up the first half, because most of them are obscure. As he said of the English composer, Francis Cutting, "No one's too sure when he was born and nobody's too sure when he died, but we know he flourished in Elizabethan times.
There was nothing obscure about the Bach and the Albeniz works for guitar in the second half. And a work called "Impromptus" written for Bream by Richard Rodney Bennett seemed a major addition to the guitar repertory. The performances were immaculate.