Thank you California!

A wonder of gratitude to the people who helped make my 2-weeks in Southern California a great adventure!

There is not enough room for all the pictures and pages could be written about each of the Artists and amazing people I was able to meet and collaborate with. Please see below for links to many of them.

Until the next concert,
Aaron

Here are some worth checking out in the photos:

Robert and Katherine Bender – Karob Studios

Buzz Gravelle – Cal Poly Pomona faculty and Fretless guitars

Peter Yates – Multi-media Artist, Guitarist, UCLA faculty

Adrienne Albert – Composer

Cellista – Musician & Performance Artist

Tom Flaherty – Composer, Pomona Faculty

Gisel Vincent – Artist

 

Some picture locations:

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla

Schulman Auditorium, Carlsbad

Tacos on the side of the road, Santa Monica

Lofty Coffee, Encinitas

 

Strings Galore – Convergence Ensemble

Sunday Nov. 20 • The Convergence Ensemble presents ‘Strings Galore’ a chamber music concert.

Program
Prelude 1, BWV 846 – J.S. Bach
sweet nuance
– Aaron Larget-Caplan
from Six Melodies – John Cage, Arr. Larget-Caplan
Trio – Beethoven
Three Vintage Portraits of Exquisite Ladies Expressing Their Frame of Mind –
Antonio Celso Ribeiro
Concert Champêtre – Thomas L. Read,
Cajun Set
– Libby Larsen  – Gringalet • French Blues • Joe Ferail (Whoop and Stomp)
Tango en Skaï – Roland Dyens, trio arr. Dyens

Musicians: guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, violist Michelle LaCourse,
violinist Heidi Braun-Hill and cellist Hyun-Ji Kwon.

Time: 4pm
Location: 
St. Mary’s Church, at 14 Cushing Ave. Boston, MA, 02125
Admission: $15 suggested donation, Students Free
Information
https://www.convergenceensemble.org/

Southern California Concerts & Classes

I’m very excited to be heading to Southern California for 12 days of concerts, classes, good food, and great friends. I will have CDs and publications with me 😊. I will be traveling quite a bit, so reach out if you’d like to meet for coffee or have questions about the concerts.

Aaron

Wednesday, Nov. 3 – Pomona College, Claremont – Originally scheduled for March 2020
ClassTime in contemporary music
Lecture ‘Being an Artist Entrepreneur in the 21st Century’

Saturday Nov. 5 – Pomona College, Concert 8pm (click for INFO)
Looking Bach, Listening Forward
Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music

PROGRAM
sweet nuance (2022) by Larget-Caplan
Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach* (2017-2018) by Vineet Shende
No. 1 – Mayamalagovla, in Tisra jaati, Rupaka taal (after BWV 846) – VIDEO
No. 10 – Dhenuka, in Chaturasra jaati, Matya taal (after BWV 853)Chromatic Fantasy*, BWV 903 by J.S. Bach
The Legend of Hagoromo (1992) by Keigo Fujii
Steps and Leaps* (2019) for Guitar + MAX/MSP by Tom Flaherty –VIDEO
Bacchanale* (1940) by John Cage (1912-1992) w/ Buzz Gravelle, Prepared Guitars
* Written for or arranged by Aaron Larget-Caplan

Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music – MAP – HERE

Nov. 7 – Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, Concert 12pm (click for INFO)
MAP – HERE

PROGRAM
Tango en Skaï by Roland Dyens
sweet nuance by Larget-Caplan
God’s Time Is The Very Best Time*, BWV 106 by J.S. Bach
Prelude 1 in C Major, WTC I*, BWV 846 by J.S. Bach – VIDEO
Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach* by Vineet Shende
No. 1 – Mayamalagovla, in Tisra jaati, Rupaka taal (after BWV 846)
moving still by Larget-Caplan
Over the Rainbow by Harold Arlen, Arr. Toru Takemitsu
Summer Time by George Gerswhin, Arr. Toru Takemitsu – VIDEO
Panaderos Flamencos by Esteban Sanlucar
The Legend of Hagoromo by Keigo Fujii – VIDEO
* Arranged or written for by Aaron Larget-Caplan

Nov. 9 – UCLA, Masterclass and Arts Discussion with students of Peter Yates

Nov. 12 – Schulman Auditorium, Carlsbad, Concert 7:30pm (click for INFO)

PROGRAM
Prelude 1 in C Major, WTC I*, BWV 846 by J.S. Bach
sweet nuance (2022) by Larget-Caplan
Carnatic Prelude, After J.S. Bach* (2017) by Vineet Shende
No. 1 – Mayamalagovla, in Tisra jaati, Rupaka taal (after BWV 846)
God’s Time is the Very Best Time*, BWV 106 by J.S. Bach
In A Landscape* by John Cage
Chromatic Fantasy*, BWV 903 by J.S. Bach
The Legend of Hagoromo (1992) by Keigo Fujii
* Written for or arranged by Aaron Larget-Caplan

Schulman Auditorium, MAP – HERE

REVIEW – INTERVIEW by Ken Meltzer

God’s Time—Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar is another in a series of superb recordings from Aaron Larget-Caplan. Here, Larget-Caplan performs his own transcriptions of Bach’s music. In my extended interview with Aaron Larget-Caplan, the guitarist describes his intensive exploration of Bach, and pays tribute to the musicians who have served the Baroque master so well. In that interview, Larget-Caplan’s reverence for, and affinity with Bach’s music are clear. And those elements are affirmed both in Larget-Caplan’s superb transcriptions and his poetic renditions. All of the transcriptions preserve the integrity and beauty of Bach’s original compositions.

In our interview, Larget-Caplan quotes organist/harpsichordist Peter Sykes, who “advised that transcriptions should sound as if they were written for the instrument.” This, Larget-Caplan achieves as well, in sterling fashion. And the rightness of his transcriptions are affirmed in performances that bear Larget-Caplan’s characteristic gorgeous tonal quality, crystal-clear articulation, and poetic phrasing. Larget-Caplan’s delineation of Bach’s contrapuntal writing is remarkable for its balance of precision and supple musicality. And in his fiery rendition of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy, Larget-Caplan communicates his view of the work as a precursor to the Sturm und Drang movement. The gorgeous recorded sound does full justice to Larget-Caplan’s artistry. A splendid release.

Ken Meltzer, Fanfare

5 StarsFive stars: Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan’s exquisite transcriptions of Bach

Interview with Aaron Larget-Caplan by Ken Meltzer, Fanfare

God’s Time—Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar, presents arrangements and performances by Aaron Larget-Caplan. I spoke with Larget-Caplan about his lifelong exploration of Bach, the composer’s legendary interpreters, the art of transcription, and the significance of the repertoire included in God’s Time.

Your liner notes for God’s Time – Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar contain some fascinating comments that I would love to pursue further. For example: “There are many interpretations of Bach’s music by renowned artists to explore and ideas to internalize, which early in my career I found musically overwhelming.” Tell us about some of those artists, and why they inspired the profound reaction you describe.

The recordings of the major 20th-century masters were so full of personal character and technical mastery with each bearing the stamp of the performer, the space, and the label. I’m thinking of Gould and Richter, Heifetz, Landowska, Rostropovich, and Casals. They did things that many frown upon now, but even the approach to how the instruments were recorded was unique with the labels trying to be independent of each other. These performances still make me excited.

As I explored more and more, I discovered pianists such as Samuel Feinberg and William Kapell, both of whom were technical masters. I fell for Kapell through his Prokofiev recordings.

Living in Boston, violinists Rachel Podger, Christian Tetzlaff, Christoph Poppen are not unheard-of names. Each quite unique from the other, they shed light on ornamentation, variation of tempi, and lyricism.

I believe every guitarist goes through a harpsichord phase. Mine began with Landowska, and then the NEC early music department under John Gibbons. The wonderful Peter Sykes has deservingly placed his stamp on Boston and I’m grateful to hear him perform. Searching for Lute-harpsichord albums, I found the lovely collection by Robert Hill. Informative notes and playing, but hearing such works on early keyboards, which have different mechanisms and action speed then the modern day piano also gives the work a human touch. Gould is great, but fast is not always a choice I agree with.

Regarding the guitar, I fell in love with the early recordings of Maria Luisa Anido and Luise Walker for their use of color, rubato, and unbelievable technical abilities. Segovia’s Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude was, and still is, mind blowing. The structure and drama of Julian Bream’s Lute suites, the clarity of the Assad Duo, Paul Galbtraith’s silky touch, and the inventiveness of David Leisner’s ornamentation all played influential roles in what I do today.

At the end of the day, I can’t say any of these are right or wrong. I believe it is up to the artist to fully invest themselves in the music. I am not Julian Bream, nor should I be. To have Music in Life and a Life in Music means I must be me in every note. That said, stealing is most welcome.

You further reveal: “I took a break from programming (Bach) to allow time to study his music through unknown masters on various instruments, read more about his life, and further explore the place of music in society through writings of John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, Hazarat Inyat Kahn, and others.” Would you be willing to tell us more about this path of exploration?

Society’s relationship with music has changed over the course of time. What was once sacred and only heard in a church or private court is now background music or filler for video games. Since my first album was released in 2006, the practice of hearing and experiencing music has completely changed, and that’s without thinking about Covid.

For a short time in 2nd half of the 20th century, the advent of recorded music allowed some musicians to believe that recordings would be enough to give up live performance. For some this was great, while others disagreed. Though it wasn’t an option for me, I do believe the relationship between artist and audience to be sacred. I worked to make the recording intimate and as if the listener had very good seats in a beautiful space.

Books on the life of Bach and interpreting his music that I found inspiring:

  • Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner
  • Interpreting Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier: A Performer’s Discourse of Method by Ralph Kirkpatrick
  • Bach Interpretation: Articulation Marks in Primary Sources of J. S. Bach by John Butt
  • Bach: Expanded Edition by Little, Meredith, Jenne, Natalie
  • Bach by Frederick Neumann
  • The Fencing Master, About Mrs. Anna Magdalena Bach’s Autograph Copy of the 6 Suites for Violoncello Solo senza Basso of Johann Sebastian Bach by Anner Bylsma

Books on performing and the place of music in society:

  • Glenn Gould Reader by Glenn Gould
  • Charm and Speed: Virtuosity in the Performing Arts by Vernon Alfred Howard
  • Confronting Silence by Toru Takemitsu
  • Silence by John Cage
  • The Music of Life and other titles by Hazrat Inyat Kahn

Please tell us a bit more about your involvement with John Cage, and in particular, your arrangements and recordings of his music.

What started as a wouldn’t-this-sound-cool type of project, became a recording and publishing endeavor far beyond what I imagined. In 2013, I arranged the piano part of Cage’s ‘Six Melodies’ for violin and guitar and performed it as part of my faculty recital at the Boston Conservatory with violinist Sharan Leventhal. Composer and violinist Thomas L. Read loved it and encouraged me to reach out to Edition Peters. I did.

They published the score in 2015 and it sold well enough for them to ask for a set of solos. In 2018 they published seven solos under ‘Piano Music for Guitar,’ and in September 2022 Bacchanale for prepared guitar duo. An album of all of them, John. Cage. Guitar. (Stone Records) came out in 2018.

In January 2020, I was Musician in Residence for a month at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada where I began working on two more large arrangements, and I returned the project in May 2022 with a weeklong residency in Clinton, New York at the Kirkland Arts Center.

The music has been very well received and the director of the John Cage Trust, Laura Kuhn, and host of ‘All Things Cage’ has had me on multiple times.

Cage’s music introduced me to many wonderful artists and expanded my understanding of the mid-20th century American music and art scene, but more importantly, the reaction of audience members to this music has been overwhelmingly positive.

Many musicians’ only relationship to Cage’s music comes from his later creations, so they are surprised to learn of the lyricism and beauty he composed. General audience actually love it.

Tell us about the title you chose for the new Bach CD (God’s Time), and its significance to the project.

As I mention in the liner note, pianist Seymour Bernstein introduced me to the work ‘Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit’ (God’s Time is the Very Best Time), BWV106, and asked me to arrange it for guitar. I knew right away it was a “keeper” and the title of the album had to be ‘God’s Time.’

As a musician knows, sometimes we play Bach and other times Bach plays us. It’s not on our time…

God’s Time features your transcriptions of various works Bach originally composed for keyboard. Bach’s music has long been the subject of transcriptions. Bach himself often repurposed his music for different pieces and performing forces. What is it about Bach’s music that makes it so attractive (and effective) for transcription?

The fact we don’t know much about Bach as a person, exactly how his music was played, except for an occasional tempo and dynamic marking, the general lack of direction, how it actually sounded at the time, and how it was received, allows for a great amount of freedom; the music can be shaped to reflect our own personal tastes.

I grew up hearing the amazing music played on a piano, not a period instrument, so I have accepted such changes from the start.

The variation and steadfast belief musicians have for their own interpretation made me adapt a little joke for Bach: If two musicians on a deserted island had to agree on how to interpret a Bach prelude, there would be three versions: one for each of them, and one they both dislike.

As a guitarist, the lack of original works by the famous European composers, made transcription for the guitar a cornerstone of the 20th century repertoire: Albéniz, Granados, Scarlatti, Piazzolla, and Handel. Today it is not uncommon to hear Mussorgsky or Cage on one guitar and Beethoven on two. It almost feels the common practice of transcribing popular music for various instruments that existed pre-recording era is starting to return.

My general belief: as long as music is being played and introduced to society it is a good thing.

What are some of your favorite Bach transcriptions by other artists, and what qualities in them do you find particularly compelling?

By far the most influential are those by Ferruccio Busoni. I know I heard the Bach-Busoni Chaconne prior to hearing it on violin or guitar.

Researching the album, I found he did quite a few other adjustments to Bach. I almost included Busoni’s version of the Little Fugue in C Minor, BWV 961 (played in D Minor), which has three more measures.

For a time, I had a small obsession with searching out various versions of the Chaconne, including the Brahms for piano left hand, Busoni’s, electric keyboard, multiple for cello, viola, harp, and even the choral-violin version of The Hilliard Ensemble & Christoph Poppen.

The work of the guitar duos, Presti and Lagoya, Assad Brothers and the Abreu Brothers cannot be overstated. The clarity of their playing and inventiveness of ornamentation are breathtaking. I also have a love for mid-20th century solo guitar transcriptions with their lovely colors and romantic rubato additions.

What are your thoughts on Leopold Stokowski’s kaleidoscopic orchestral transcriptions of Bach?

Love them. Bach pushed the instruments and voices at his disposal to their limits, so I would have a hard time believing he would not have done similarly with a 20th century orchestra.

What are your goals and challenges when transcribing Bach’s compositions?

Many years ago, I spoke about with organist/harpsichordist Peter Sykes, who famously transcribed Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’. He advised that transcriptions should sound as if they were written for the instrument. I think this to be wise advice.

With the Six Small Preludes and A Little Fugue, I wanted the works to sound as if they were written for guitar, while also acknowledging the keyboard lesson aspects for those who know them. For instance, though it was extremely difficult, I wanted to make sure ornaments in the bass voice of Prelude in C Major, BWV 924 were clear, and the tempo in Prelude in D Minor, BWV 962 was proper to feel the hemiolas, and the bass articulation in Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999 was somewhat close to the actual notation.

The Prelude and ‘Fiddle’ Fugue presented a whole new set of challenges as there are different versions for violin, organ, and lute. Julian Bream famously made his transcription from the lute and violin.

Again, Peter Sykes urged me to check out the organ version in D Minor, BWV 539, which includes a prelude. I was intrigued right away, as I always disliked how the lute version lacked a prelude, and when I read through the organ version, I knew it would be perfect on guitar.

In the fugue I saw so many dissonant notes that were playable on guitar, so I slowly started adding them to my Segovia & Tárrega scores and after a week or two I was writing out my own “new” version.

In your liner notes, you address the issue of retaining the keys of the original Bach works.

Though speculation of the spiritual meaning of keys and their effects on the listener, I do believe Bach was fully aware of the symbolism of each key. He doesn’t come across as a composer who left things to chance.

As a guitarist, I wanted to try to make sure that the album was not just in the standard ‘guitar keys’ (E, A, D).  Besides the use of the Capo, there are three tunings on the album: Standard, drop D, and G (5-G, 6-D).

Though Bach changed the key to multiple compositions to suit the instrument (see “fiddle” Fugue BWV 539/1000/1001), I did want to keep the original key when possible. For ‘God’s Time…’ and the Prelude in E Flat Minor, WTC I, BWV 853, I was able to keep the original keys of E Flat Minor and E Flat major by tuning my lowest string (6) from E/mi to D/re and then adding a Capo on the first fret.

Tell us about the repertoire on God’s Time, and why you chose it for transcription and performance.

Prelude, Fugue, Allegro in E Flat Major, BWV 998 (played in D Major) • A unique work that stands out from the lute suites in its lyricism, construction, and flexibility of interpretation. The technical approachability of the prelude is countered by the daunting six-minute, three-part and three-voice fugue of movement two. The binary allegro looks straightforward but asks many questions of the interpreter. The symbolism and mathematical relations of the movements inspire, and the fact that each movement has some sort of repetition invites the performer to ornament, which I do.

Prelude in C Major, WTC I, BWV 846 • Part of my repertoire for years, it was the right time to record it.

Prelude & Fiddle Fugue, BWV 539/1000 • Epic and see above.

God’s Time is the Very Best Time, BWV 106 • So many of us have experienced loss over the last two years, that it seemed like the right piece for the time.

Chromatic Fantasy in D Minor, BWV 903 • One of my favorite instrumental solos of Bach for its completely unique place in repertoire. The toccata opening, the recitative middle section with sudden flourishes, and the descending diminished chords of the closing, the knocking of death, only to finish on the warmest of D Major chords. Such a range of emotions that it could easily be considered a Sturm und Drang work a century later. Maybe it was foreshadowing the movement… Regardless, a masterpiece!

Prelude in E Flat Minor, WTC I, BWV 853 • I heard Richter’s performance of this prelude and knew I would need to make a version for guitar. The pacing, the floating melody that climbs and falls, the oscillating minor 2nds, the dotted rhythms, and warmth of the last four bars. Just magical.

Six Small Preludes and A Little Fugue • I am extremely proud of these transcriptions. From a pedological standpoint for guitar, they are wonderful additions to the repertoire that allow students to play smaller works by Bach that can be steppingstones to larger works. Musically, they contain a plethora of emotions that require a level of technical mastery but are also open enough that various tempos can be chosen and quite satisfying unto themselves.

In one of your transcriptions, that of the BWV 999 Prelude, you incorporate a bit of another Bach piece.

Yes, I have never been content with the Little Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999 ending on the dominant. It is accepted as that’s-the-way-it-is, but not for me. I was working on a transcription of Prelude 3 in C Major, WTC II, BWV 872, which I found to have a similar arpeggio motif and that also ends on the dominant before a coda finishes the piece. I stole the coda from BWV 872, transposed it to the dominant of D Minor (A Major), and added it to the end of BWV 999 as a new Coda. It is not perfect, but I think it follows the line of Busoni fixing the Prelude in C Minor, BWV 961, and a lot of fun to perform.

Some of the included Bach compositions have been previously transcribed by others. Did that impact your approach in your own transcriptions of the works?

Quite a bit and especially with the Prelude, Fugue, Allegro, BWV 998.

My instructors at the New England Conservatory, David Leisner and Eliot Fisk, are both well known for their transcriptions, so it seems very natural to make my own.

Leisner also expected his students to add ornament. His Bach recording is inspiring in this respect.

Are there other Bach compositions you’d like to transcribe?

Quite a few!

On another subject: In the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Fanfare (45:2), I had the pleasure of reviewing Vols. 2 and 3 (Stone Records) of you performing works from your The New Lullaby Project. Tell us about that project and the recordings.

The New Lullaby Project began in 2007 to bridge the chasm of fear composers have for writing for the guitar and audiences towards listening to contemporary music. Since then, over 65 composers from 10 countries have had their new lullabies premiered, with number 71 receiving its premiere in October 2022.

The first album, New Lullaby, came out in 2010, followed by volumes 2 and 3 (Nights Transfigured and Drifting) in 2020 and 2021 with 46 having been recorded to date.

In 2020, in partnership with the American Composers Alliance, we published the first anthology of scores, Nights Transfigured, which earned multiple Revere Awards from the Music Publishers Association of the United States. Volume 2, Hushed, was published in 2021.

More recordings and publications are in the works.

While we’re on the subject of your other recordings, Colin Clarke (Fanfare 46:1, Sept/Oct 2022) reviewed honey cadence, a collection of your own compositions for guitar. Take us on a brief tour of this endeavor, please!

honey cadence explores some of my favorite aspects of the guitar: timbre, harmonics, string bends, and having the same pitch in multiple places on the instrument. Each title has something to do with a musical direction: cadence, moving, nuance, anticipation, play. Musically they are influenced by John Cage, bits of Bach, and Villa-Lobos, with nods to Ravel and even Queen. The latter weren’t necessarily conscious, but I hear them now.

I’m very proud of finally entering this new artistic realm, and the response has been outstanding with over 700K streams since its release in April 2022!

What future endeavors are on the horizon?

  • ACA publication of honey cadence scores.
  • Edition Peters publication of a solo by Alan Hovhaness.
  • A guitar and electronics project, which has heard premieres by Tom Flaherty, Lou Bunk, and Lainie Fefferman. Videos online.
  • A large work by Daniel Felsenfeld, his first guitar solo.
  • New Lullaby Project premieres, recording, and publishing.
  • A micro-opera by Richard Cameron-Wolfe.
  • And a great project: Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach with composer Vineet Shende (Bowdoin College). Shende re-imagines WTC preludes as if Bach were from South India and we pair them to my own transcriptions of Bach’s originals. We started in 2017 and have only a couple left.

The horizon is full of music!

Aaron Larget-Caplan’s website: https://alcguitar.com

 

BACH (arr. Larget-Caplan) Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in E-flat, BWV998. The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Prelude No. 1 in C, BWV846; Prelude No. 8 in e-flat, BWV853. Prelude and Fugue in d, “Fiddle” BWV539-1000. God’s Time is the

Very Best Time, “Actus tragicus”, BWV106. Chromatic Fantasy in d, BWV903. Twelve Little Preludes: in C, BWV924; in d, BWV926; in g, BWV930; in c, BWV999-872. Fugue in c, BWV961. Six Little Preludes: in c, BWV 934. Five Little Preludes: in C, BWV939  • Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) • Tiger Turn (888-09) • (Streaming audio: 49:02)

VIDEO: Prelude 1 by J.S. Bach

NEW VIDEO:

The first video from God’s Time – Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar

What do you think?

REVIEW – God’s Time, Bach for Guitar

5 stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️: A fine, sensitive, and contemplative set of arrangements for guitar of Bach’s music

Bertil van Boer, Fanfare • STREAM GOD’S TIME HERE

I’ve always had a soft spot for guitar arrangements of the music of Baroque composers, such as can be found in this album of works by Johann Sebastian Bach. Until recently, all guitar students where I taught were required to take Collegium, and though we did have a Renaissance lute, most were directed to perform music with tablature that may or may not have been written originally for the instrument. As one might imagine, there was a fair amount of Spanish and Italian Baroque works, but a fair number chose to attempt to perform music by Bach, generally trying to finagle the solo violin, keyboard, or cello pieces to fit their instrument. In every case, whatever the difficulty in so doing, the results demonstrated that his works were perfectly adaptable for the guitar, and moreover this is something that Silvius Julius Weiss, a friend of the composer, thought so as well, albeit his instrument was the lute. The purpose of this long introduction is to note that the majority of these “arrangements” were fine, if amateur renderings, but with this program we have some quite sophisticated ones that bring out the nuances in Bach’s often complex music. There is no attempt here to provide complete works, but rather the program shows a compendium of movements that fit together like a puzzle. This contains the following works:

  • Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro (BWV 998) probably intended for Weiss or a keyboard Lautenwerk
  • Prelude in C major (BWV 846) from the Well-tempered Keyboard
  • Prelude and “Fiddle” Fugue (BWV 539 plus 1000-1001), a mash-up of the three versions of the fugue
  • The opening chorus from the Actus Tragicus (BWV 106)
  • Chromatic Fantasy in D minor (BWV 903)
  • Prelude in E-flat major (BWV 853) from the Well-tempered Keyboard
  • Short Preludes (BWV 924, 926, 930, 934, 939, 961, and 999 but with a cadential borrowing from BWV 872) from the notebooks for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Johann Peter Kellner

All in all, it is a nice collection that Aaron Larget-Caplan has chosen to fit his theme of ethereal contemplation. A couple of examples will be of interest. First, the Prelude and Fiddle Fugue, his own compilation of several versions, begins with a fluid and quite complex movement, wherein he moves easily through the various layers of accompaniment, sometimes altogether and others in contrast. Yet, throughout the theme is clearly delineated. In the fugue, he easily outlines the various entrances, with a clear tone and precision of Bach’s lyrical fugal theme. The episodes are particularly well-placed with good depth in the harmony. In this paraphrase from the cantata Actus Tragicus, the smooth flow is pensive and steady, indeed contemplative, with a slow and light marching tempo. The E-flat minor Prelude is equally complex and at the same time evocative. He notes that it reflects the stages in life, and the opening seems calm and yet filled with an implacable march forward. The central sections are a bit more jagged, harmonic uncertain at moments, but a slower more deliberate tempo, and at the end the pensive mood returns.

There is a set of six smaller preludes and a brief counterpoint, all drawn from the pieces meant for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and another set for his pupil Johann Peter Kellner. The second of these, in D minor (BWV 926), is a rather charming little exercise that at moments sounds a bit Spanish on the guitar, even as it is quite improvisatory. The fugue that follows (BWV 961) has a meandering theme that really indicates a musical wandering with an easy lyrical flow. Finally, a short prelude (BWV 939), barely half a minute long, twinkles or rather sparkles, setting a lighter tone for the set.

Larget-Caplan makes short work of these pieces, all of which seem to have been written for his instrument (though of course they weren’t). He navigates the sometimes odd twists and harmonic turns with grace and ease, providing at all times a soft and thoughtful performance, even in the couple of faster movements. This is the sort of music that is perfect for introducing students to Bach; complexity that is evened out, and a sense of how much depth each of the pieces has in terms of texture and lyricism. The notes here say that a compact disc is forthcoming, and whether one streams these works or waits until the disc is

released, it is sure to provide three-quarters of an hour’s worth of fine, sensitive performance on the guitar. Bertil van Boer

5 stars: A fine, sensitive, and contemplative set of arrangements for guitar of Bach’s music

God’s Time – Music of J. S. Bach on GuitarBACH Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in ETBWV 998. Das

Wohltemperierte ClavierPrelude in C, BWV 846; Prelude in eT, BWV 853. Prelude and Fugue in d, BWV 529. Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106, “Actus Tragicus”: Scnatina. Chromatic Fantasia in d, BWV 903. Little Preludesd, BWV 926; No. 11 in g, BWV 930; c, BWV 934; C, BWV 939; c, BWV 999. Fugue in C, BWV 961Aaron Larget-Caplan, (gtr and arr) • TIGER TURN (Streaming audio: 48:54) • STREAM GOD’S TIME HERE • CDs at BANDCAMP

REVIEW: God’s Time – 5 Stars!

Five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ : A lovely disc, beautifully recorded, and expertly played by Aaron Larget-Caplan. Recommended

Colin Clarke, Fanfare • STREAM GOD’S TIME HERE

Entitled “God’s Time,” this is a charming and expertly performed disc of Bach on the guitar. All arrangements, each equally expertly handled, are by the present guitarist, Aaron Larget-Caplan. Although this is Larget-Caplan’s first all-Bach disc, it is his ninth in total. Previous releases include a disc of music by Cage (Larget-Caplan’s arrangements were the first to be authorized by the Cage Estate) and a sequence of discs entitled the “New Lullaby Project”.

The title of this disc, “God’s Time,” comes from the Bach’s early funerary cantata, In Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106 (God’s Own Time is the Very Best of Times), a piece also known as the “Actus Tragicus”, not a piece heard very often, and most recently in my experience by Vox Luminis directed by Lionel Meunier at St John’s, Smith Square in London as part of the 2022 Easter Festival in a terrific performance. The piece itself contrasts the weight of carrying death with the serenity that is ostensibly held within that state. The transcription here is most effective, although obviously one loses the unforgettably mournful sound of the pair of alto recorders.

While most of the works presented here are usually associated with keyboard of some description, the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat-Major, BWV 998 was composed for “Lautenwerck” (to use its more usually accepted spelling), a harpsichord-like instrument but with gut strings. Larget-Caplan opts to transpose the piece into a more guitar-friendly D-Major, his arrangements, he says, inspired by those of Eliot Fisk, Segovia , and Oscar Ghiglia and is supremely well managed, not least in the Fugue, where linear clarity is achieved at all times with no loss in momentum and no interruption to rhythms; the final Allegro is very clearly a dance, its bass-lines crystal clear and grounding.

The famous C-Major Prelude is pure balm, magnificently even and harmonically cognisant. As for the Prelude and Fugue in D-Minor, BWV 529 (which has sometimes been considered as spurious), The Fugue is based on the second movement of the Sonata for Solo Violin, BWV 1001. There is a touching simplicity to the Prelude that contrasts with the rigor of the Fugue, and again it is Larget-Caplan’s technique that allows for the requisite rhythmic flow. The voice-leading is beautifully realized.

The Chromatic Fantasy must be one of the better known of the works here. The arrangement sounds fiendishly difficult, Larget-Caplan allows us to feel both the drama and the modernity of this piece. In contrast, the E flat-Minor Prelude from Book One of the WTC is a meditation. It transcribes supremely well for guitar, particularly when one has as fine a trill as Larget-Caplan’s.

While Larget-Caplan describes the final seven tracks as essentially keyboard studies but approached as guitar miniatures, the sequence of two Preludes plus a Fugue implies its own microcosm, the calmer C-Major Prelude (BWV 924) ceding to the fiendish D-Minor (BWV 926), before the fascinating Fugue in C-Minor, BWV 961. This is a fugue in two voices, its movement beautifully sustained here. Larget-Caplan sees the relentless tread as a reason for optimism, and who am I to argue?

A sequence of “Little Preludes” works well as a final group, with a further C-Major, BWV 939 offered in the manner of an encore. The last of that group, a C-Minor Prelude, is listed as “BWV 999-872″: the primary number is 999, but it ends inconclusively, so Larget-Caplan has somewhat ingeniously added the coda from BWV 872 (WTC Book I, the Prelude in C sharp-Minor). It feels very satisfying. Similarly, the “encore” of BWV 939 works because it brings us to a sense of sated peace.

A lovely disc, beautifully recorded, and expertly played by Aaron Larget-Caplan. Recommended. Colin Clarke

BACH Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in ET, BWV 998. Das Wohltemperierte Clavier: Prelude in C, BWV 846; Prelude in eT, BWV 853. Prelude and Fugue in d, BWV 529. Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106, “Actus Tragicus”: Scnatina. Chromatic Fantasia in d, BWV 903. Little Preludes: d, BWV 926; No. 11 in g, BWV 930; c, BWV 934; C, BWV 939; c, BWV 999. Fugue in C, BWV 961 (all arrs. Larget-Caplan)    Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr)  TIGER TURN 888-09 (streaming audio: 48:54)  Available on all streaming platforms, with physical copies available from Bandcamp STREAM GOD’S TIME HERE

 

 

REVIEW – God’s Time – Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar

Five Stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ : A stimulating, inspiring take on Bach for all lovers of Classical guitar

Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

This appears to be a departure from Aaron Larget-Caplan’s recent albums reviewed in these pages. In those albums, the concert guitarist, composer, arranger, educator, and commissioner of countless works for his instrument can be heard performing dozens of those pieces that he has commissioned and premiered. But at some stage in every guitarist’s career, whether early, middle, or late, there comes the inevitable meeting with Johann Sebastian Bach.

And that is the odd thing, you see, because as far as we know, Bach never wrote a single note for guitar. What he did write—or more properly put, what he transcribed in some cases from works he’d previously composed for other instruments—were a number of pieces for lute and/or lautenwerk, the latter a Baroque keyboard instrument similar to a harpsichord, but strung with gut rather than metal strings, thereby producing a mellow tone imitative of a lute.

Seven such entries appear in Bach’s work catalog under the numbers BWV 995 through 1000, plus BWV 1006a. As noted in a previous review, they are as follows:

Suite in G Minor BWV 995 17314 Lute1 Cello Suite 53
Suite in E Minor BWV 996 17174 Lute-Hpd2
Suite in C Minor BWV 997 17414 Lute-Hpd1
Prelude/Fugue/Allegro BWV 998 17354 Lute Hpd1
Prelude in C Minor BWV 999 17234 Lute1
Fugue in G Minor BWV 1000 17234 Lute1
Suite in E Major BWV 1006a 17374 Lute1 Violin Partita 33

1 Instrument likely
2 Instrument unlikely
3 Bach’s own transcription
4 All dates subject to speculation

By way of an update to the above table, I would quote Clive Titmuss, who, writing in Classical Guitar Canada, cited recent scholarship in stating that “the apocryphal lute works lie well within the confines of Bach’s established keyboard style, and were probably written for various keyboard instruments, including something called the lute-harpsichord.”

In other words, not only did Bach never write a single for guitar, he may never have written an original piece for lute either. Given the fact that many of Bach’s original manuscripts are lost, and that he often cannibalized his own extant works for use in new compositions, no one can say for sure if the seven numbers—minus the composer’s own two transcriptions of the cello suite and the violin partita—didn’t exist in earlier versions for other instruments.

Putting all of that aside, the fact is that much of Bach’s keyboard music, and some of it not for keyboard—I’m thinking of the Chaconne from the Partita in D Minor for Unaccompanied Violin—have been ripe for the picking (no pun intended) by guitarists since time immemorial.

Aaron Larget-Caplan here joins his many illustrious contemporaries and predecessors in a program of Bach’s keyboard works he has put together from his own transcriptions and sometimes fanciful recombinant realizations.

Some of the pieces are familiar fare in guitar collections—for example, the Fantasy from the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903, and the very first prelude in C Major from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier. But Larget-Caplan is not necessarily one to play things straight. One would not brand his performances with the HIP label. But then again, considering that none of these pieces was originally conceived for guitar to begin with, the notion of “historically informed practice” begs the question of what is historical and who is doing the informing. Thus, no eyebrow need be raised when Larget-Caplan raises the octave of the last measures of the aforementioned C-Major Prelude “for an ethereal conclusion.”

When it comes to those famed guitarists past and present— Segovia, Oscar Ghilgia, and Eliot Fisk—Larget-Caplan invokes their spirt and their arrangements of the Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro, BWV 998, one of those speculative lute-harpsichord pieces cited in the above table.

The album cover sports an unusual title, God’s Time, extracted from the full title of Bach’s Cantata, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (God’s time is the very best time), BWV 106. While not the longest track on the disc, I intuit from Larget-Caplan’s deeply-felt album note that his guitar arrangement of the cantata’s opening Sonatina is the emotional heart, soul, and inspiration for this labor of love.

Larget-Caplan quotes Seymour Bernstein, with whom he studied, as saying, “Our job as musicians is to elicit emotion.” Larget-Caplan then relates the story of how Bernstein performed his piano arrangement of BWV 106, and how “at that moment, I understood. I felt the whole world majestically move in solemn humility. He then turned to me, handed me the music with instructions to arrange it for guitar. Basing my version of Gottes Zeit ist die allerbest Zeit on Bersntein’s, I keep the original key of EI Major and dedicate it to him for the decades of glorious inspiration he has given his students.”

I readily admit that some of what’s on offer in Larget-Caplan’s recital takes a little sorting out because he has reconstituted it to take new forms never envisioned by Bach. Such is the headnote item listed as the Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, “Fiddle,” BWV 953 and 1000. According to Larget-Caplan’s album note, “Bach wrote three versions of the “Fiddle” Fugue: 1) the G-Minor Fugue from the Unaccompanied Violin Sonata, BWV 1001; 2) the speculative lute version in G Minor, BWV 1000; and 3) the version for organ, transposed to D Minor, BWV 539. Only the violin and organ fugues include a prelude.

Based on this, and “inspired by Julian Breams’s fugue arrangement and encouraged by harpsichordist Peter Sykes to research the organ version,” Larget-Caplan tells us that he launched into his own edition, a draft of which he shared with pianist Seymour Bernstein in 2013, and was encouraged by Bernstein to continue. “Performed in A Minor, the somber and lyrical Prelude derives from the organ version. The exciting and relentless Fugue is a mélange of all three versions.”

Much else on the second half of the program is given over to selections from the groupings of Little Preludes, BWV 924–932, BWV 933–938, and BWV 939–943. Bach’s authorship of some of these pieces is doubtful. But whether by Bach or not, all of them were almost certainly intended for keyboard instruction of Bach’s children and his other students. In their settings for guitar by Larget-Caplan, these simple, yet hardly simplistic, pieces come across with the pristine beauty and sense of timelessness that tell us these too are in “God’s time.”

For the recording, made in June, 2022, Larget-Caplan plays a 2009 guitar by French maker Olivier Fanton D’Andon. D’Andon received the highest national distinction in France as Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for his award-winning work as a luthier. Listening to his guitar on this recording, one would have to agree that the recognition accorded him was well-deserved.

But of course, the guitar doesn’t play itself, and for that Aaron Larget-Caplan earns the highest praise possible for his flawless and very impressive technique, the great beauty of tone he draws from the instrument, and for his highly creative, thought-provoking, and emotionally moving performances of these works. If God can make time for this, surely you can too. Jerry Dubins

BACH Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in EI, BWV 998. WTC, Book I: Prelude No. 1 in C, BWV 846; Prelude No. 8 in eI, BWV 853. Prelude and Fugue in d, “Fiddle,” BWV 953 and 1000. Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106. Chromatic Fantasy in d, BWV 903. Little Preludes: No. 1 in C, BWV 924; No. 5 in d, BWV 926; No. 11 in g, BWV 930; No. 2 in c, BWV 934; No. 3 in c, BWV 999/872; No. 2 in C, BWV 939. Little Fugue in c, BWV 961 • Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) • CDs: BANDCAMP 888-09 (49:01) • Streaming: SPOTIFYAMAZONAPPLE

Repertoire Fall 2022

After being asked what repertoire I was performing this fall, it became apparent that I needed to make a list. Some of these works are being repeated on multiple concerts, others presented by Now Musique series, many New Lullaby Project solos, and others are part of a tour in Southern California in November. I know there will be more, and I left off few encores and pieces I have’t quite committed to, but I’ll try to update. Many of the pieces are recorded or on youtube.

Did I forget anyone? If there is something you’d like to hear, leave a comment.

Repertoire Fall 2022

Roland Dyens – Tango en Skaï (1992)
Larget-Caplan – moving still (2021)
J.S. Bach – Prelude in C-major, WTC Bk 1 N. 1, BWV 846
Bach – A Small Prelude and Little Fugue BWV 926 & 961
Bach – God’s Time Is The Very Best Time, BWV 106
Tom Nazziola – Lull-a-by-the-sea (2021)
Dean Rosenthal – Sewing Piece (2021)
John Cage ­– In A Landscape* (1948)
Keigo Fujii – Legend of Hagoromo (1992)
John Johnstone – Blue Lullaby (2015)
Bach – Two small Preludes, BWV 924 & 930
Larget-Caplan – minding play (2022)
Ronald Pearl – Berceuse Inquiète (2021)
Brian Schober – Winter Lullaby (2021)
Scott Wheeler – Nachtlied (2009)
Lainie Fefferman – Carousel (2020)
Tom Flaherty – Steps & Leaps (2019)
Ian Wiese – Midnight Train (2021)
Gregory Biss – Lullaby (after Schumann) (2015)
Stefanie Lubkowski – Drifting (2018)
Dennis Bathory-Kitsz – Lullaby For Justin* (2022)
Larget-Caplan – TBA
Laurie Spiegel – Remembering (2020)
Anthony Green – Counting Backwards (2020)
Jim Dalton – World of Your Own (2012)
Michael Veloso – Little Dancer (2010)
Cutis Hughes – Lullibule (2020)
Francine Trester – Assortment!
Gershwin/Takemitsu – Summertime
Arlen/Takemitsu – Over the Rainbow
Larget-Caplan – sweet nuance (2022)
Bach – Chromatic Fantasy, BWV 903
Cage – Bacchanale (prepared guitar duo)
Vineet Shende – Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach (2017, 2019)
Libby Larsen – Cajun Set (Quartet)
Thomas L. Read – Concert Champêtre (cello-guitar) (2013)
Antonio Celso Ribeiro – 3 Vintage Portraits (viola-guitar) (2018)
John Cage – Six Melodies (violin-guitar)
Ian Wiese – Seeketh Not His Own (2017)

*world premiere

New Single – Bach’s Prelude 1

Bach – Prelude No. 1 in C Major, WTC Book 1, BWV 846

The first single of my forthcoming album ‘God’s Time – Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar’ is NOW available!

The first prelude in The Well-Tempered Clavier comprises a simple arpeggio figure; the dramatic tension only builds through harmonic change. While a moment in time, the arpeggio feels eternal. Gounod based his ‘Ave Maria’ on this prelude. I raise the octave of the last measures for an ethereal conclusion.

Streaming and Download Links:

https://alcguitar.lnk.to/Prelude-1