On occasion I get notes from fans following concerts or after they hear a CD or a podcast. Happily, this is occurring more and more!
Here are a few recents:
1 – “A note to say how much I enjoyed your concert. It is one thing to see an accomplished musician play his instrument; it’s quite another to see and listen to a brilliant musician who is at one with the guitar. Truly, as I sat there, I felt the connection between you and your guitar – they were one. This doesn’t happen often, so I’m glad I saw you perform. At times, the guitar sounded as a harpsichord; at others, like a violin. That is a testament to the musician.” – Jan., Oregon
2 – “Your CD. Wow! You have wonderfully braved the criticism of the fuddy-duddy classical ineffectuals. The choices and playing have opened your music to a much wider audience. I’m sharing the experience with friends and family, we are all on board. Another thing I really appreciate about the CD, you are willing to follow the lead of the last half of the 20th century and move away from strictly tonal music. Please keep it up.” – David C., Oregon
4 – Wonderful concert yesterday! I was honored to be in the audience. – Mary J., Oregon
5 – “It looks like Aaron is ready to make a big splash In New York. It’s funny, I played his [Legend of] Hagoromo CD yesterday, and the thought occurred to me that, if you hadn’t seen him perform it, you might think it was some trick done during the recording.” – Carolyn E., – Oregon
My latest CD ‘The legend of Hagoromo’ (Stone Records, UK) received a stellar review in ‘The Triangle’ the quarterly magazine of the professional music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. Read the complete review and find links for purchase below.
The complete Fall 2016 issue of ‘The Triangle’: HERE
- Award and Honors, Con Fuego, Concerts, Interviews, New Lullaby Project, Publishing, Teaching
- No Comments
It is a great honor to be a Mu Phi Epsilon ACME Honoree!
I look forward to continuing my musical adventure with the wonderful musicians and music lovers of Mu Phi Epsilon Professional Music Fraternity. Go Beta Chapter!!
Read about the fraternity and other ACME Honorees at: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.muphiepsilon.org/resource/resmgr/triangle_issues/vol110issue3Fall2016.pdf
Aaron is featured on the November 9, 2016 podcast ‘Classical Guitar Insider’ hosted by Bret Williams. The two met in July and discussed a range of guitar topics. Listen to it for free by clicking on the link below! Aaron’s portion starts at 22:45.
iTunes link to the free podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-87-aaron-larget-caplan/id622648929?i=1000377685584&mt=2
Listen to Aaron being interviewed by Mike Maino for Conducing Conversations. Click on the link below to be taken to the 1-hr episode full of witty banter and great music! Free and available 24/7.
I recently received this excellent recording, a mix of Japanese and American music performed by Aaron Larget-Caplan. You probably recognize Larget-Caplan from his videos, concerts or his other projects such as my recent review of John Cage arrangements or the New Lullaby Project. Also of note, Aaron Larget-Caplan is the first guitarist and first American to record on the UK label Stone Records, visit their artist page and spot the best bio pic of the bunch. I haven’t been doing as many reviews lately but I love albums that have a good programatic concept and this one delivers. No shortage of great repertoire here with all 20th Century to Contemporary works:
- Keigo Fujii: The Legend of Hagoromo
- Leo Brouwer: Hika, in memoriam Toru Takemitsu
- Toru Takemitsu: Equinox
- Ken Ueno: Ed è subito sera*
- Kota Nakamura: Sui-hou*
- Harold Arlen: Over the rainbow
- George Gershwin: Summertime
- Martin MaxSchreiner: Japanese idyll no.1*
- Martin Max Schreiner: Japanese idyll no.2*
The Legend of Hagoromo, an epic 18 minute singe movement work by Japanese composer Keigo Fujii (b.1956) is dedicated to David Russel with whom the composer studied guitar. You can find a write up about this work in an article on Aaron Larget-Caplan’s site. It’s a beautiful opening to the album with lush orchestral chords and pacing that ranges from improvisatory to determined forward moving momentum. Excellent musical playing by Larget-Caplan, and believe me, his playing is put to the test with a wide variety of textures and challenges in terms of balance and the large scope of the piece. You get orchestral brushing, sweet melodic lines, a little Spanish touch here and there, Japanese modes, tremolo, harmonics, everything. It meanders a bit but always brings you back with bouts of focused writing. Based on a folk tale, the composer used a 16-bar song by Hiroshi Yamanoha (d. 1991), on the same title, as a basis for the work which helps tie it all together.
Takemitsu was an obvious choice for the album and Equinox delivers the goods. Also, perfectly in line with the album’s concept, Takemitsu’s arrangements of Gershwin and Arlen connect the two countries even if the music itself seems a bit out of place. General listeners will find it interesting to hear the two sides of Takemitsu ranging from contemplative dissonance to jazzy arrangements of American music. The inclusion of Takemitsu also allows some bending of the rules to get Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s Hika, in memoriam Toru Takemitsu onto the album. Larget-Caplan’s Brouwer delivers a focused performance with nice spaciousness where needed.
Personally, I was most interested to hear the new music on the album. On the American side we have a premiere by Ken Ueno (b.1970). Ed è subito sera is an exhilarating and hypnotic work combining some of the best textures the guitar can produce but not in a cliché way. The quick tremolo/arpeggio effect with the surrounding twinkling notes and micotones (bends) are very effective. Too bad this wasn’t a multi-movement work as it’s very successful and well played by Larget-Caplan with a driving determination. My only wish was that the composer would have extended the dissipation at the end to lasted longer. Japanese-born composer Kota Nakamura’s Sui-hou is a slow but steady meditative expanse. I like how the work pulls the listener into single notes while exploring multiple textures around it. The melodic strumming is very successful and handled tastefully by Larget-Caplan. Both works were commissioned for Aaron’s New Lullaby Project The Martin Max Schreiner arrangements of Two Japanese Idylls offer a mirror of the Takemitsu arrangements. These pretty, melodic, swaying works are a beautiful way to cool-down for the end of the album. Plenty of interesting effects reminiscent of traditional Japanese music and instruments: angular strong-weak melodic lines, bends, repetitive alternation, and percussion.
Overall good recording quality, more of a studio sound rather than live. It sounds a bit on the close-mic side with some overpowering mid-range to bass but nothing unpleasing. It does offer a wide spectrum of warm bass sounds to brighter and plucky tones. I think the opening chords of Fujii’s work is well suited to the mix with a warm, almost watery-bell-like sound emerging and the harmonics are nice and soft rather than piercing or too glassy. Maybe Equinox could have benefitted from a different mix but I’m splitting hairs. Also, because of the wide range of textures this mix ensures that the strumming and other effects are not harsh which was the right choice.
Aaron Larget-Caplan’s The Legend of Hagoromo combines a conceptually strong programme with virtuosic and sensitive performances all-around. From the epic work of Fujii, meditative Takemistsu and Nakamura, to the charming arrangements of American and Japanese songs, this album will not disappoint guitarists or general listeners. More importantly, this is not just a random collection of concert works, but a focused project with new music, artistic creativity, and vision. Highly recommended. – Bradford Werner (thisisclassicalguitar.com)
Read the full review on This is Classical Guitar: http://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/review-the-legend-of-hagoromo-aaron-larget-caplan/
A great review of Aaron’s arrangement of ‘Six Melodies by John Cage for violin and guitar in This is Classical Guitar by Bradford Werner.
“A few months ago I started arranging Six Melodies by American composer John Cage (1912-1992) but quickly found a YouTube video of Boston based guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan playing the work with great success. After asking about the arrangement I received this beautiful score by Edition Peters. No need for me to arrange when such a great edition already exists! It
’s such a treat to be able to play the music of John Cage from this era of his compositions. The gamut technique and the nested rhythmic proportions are the same used in his String Quartet in Four Part… theory aside, they create a tranquil and almost hypnotic motivic puzzle of beauty. There is little music of this style and era specifically written for guitar so high quality arrangements are very welcome.
I’ll quote more info about the piece below but it’s a great arrangement without much…”
Read the complete review at: www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/six-melodies-cage-guitar-violin/
“The release of such works is very important for the development of the modern guitar repertoire. The transcription of Larget-Caplan has ennobled our instrument.”
Six Melodies – Publication Review by Six Strings of the World (Poland)
Edition Peters, EP68526
“Aaron Larget–Caplan is an American guitarist having in his repertoire a long list of works of contemporary composers. One of the compositions he has shown interest to was the Six Melodies for piano and violin of John Cage from 1955. A. Larget-Caplan has transcribed the piano part for the guitar und has successfully played this composition since 2013 with the violin player Sharan Leventhal. This transcription was released in December 2015 by Edition Peters and was the first published composition for the guitar regarding work of John Cage.
Larget-Caplan is not the first guitar player involved in the work of the famous American musician Cage. The Japanese Kozo Kanatani was interested in the Cage´s work as well, he wrote three arrangements for piano: Dream, In a Landscape and Ophelia, two of them were released as CDs (the Dream as part of the album Renaissance from 1999; In the Landscape on In the Landscape from 2003). Two Italian artists got also connected to the work of the American avant-garde composer, Maurizio Grandinetti recorded on the EQUIvoci, John Cage and John Dowland even eight of Cage´s compositions (exp.) and Andrea De Vitis plays his own arrangements of three Cage´s compositions on concerts as the Aril for vocals and the Dream and the A Room for the piano.
By his transcription A. Larget-Caplan was keeping the part for the violin without changes and has adapted the piano part changing the single sounds and transforming them to another octave. He replaced the components of the chords. In all of the six pieces he was using the scordatura of the sixth string from E to D. His big attention was given to the piano pedal marks, which he tried to translate by setting of exactly accents on tones. From the interpreter’s point of view this composition seems to be not so difficult, but the challenge is made up of in paying attention to tone and articulation and clarifying the sound then many of tones are played in pp or ppp dynamic.
The release of such works is very important for the development of the modern guitar repertoire. The transcription of Larget-Caplan or the arrangements on György Ligeti´s Violin sonata made by the Greek Kostas Tosidis has ennobled our instrument. With help of such artists, works of composers, who never created for the guitar, can be used by guitarists and the non-guitarists are paying more attention and see more potential in our instrument.”
By Michal Lazar
Translated by Agn Cibura, July 2016
March 2016, p. 62
2013 Premiere Performance with Sharan Leventhal at the Boston Conservatory
Aaron’s latest CD ‘The Legend of Hagoromo’ (Stone Records 2015) received a glowing review in the Spring 2016 issue of Classical Guitar.
- “Eclectic and endlessly rewarding release”
- “Aaron Larget-Caplan is a performer with all the skills and energy required to deliver a truly remarkable contemporary performance.”