Archive for November, 2010

Upon Listening, New Lullaby CD Review by Sherry Kloss

New Lullaby CD Review by Sherry Kloss

This is a wonderful introduction to my New Lullaby CD, with a brief description of the project and  pieces.  What I find amazing is how each person hears the pieces so uniquely!

Click on the piece title to hear them via

Upon Listening

Sherry Kloss, Epsilon Upsilon, Muncie Alumni
3510 West University Avenue, Muncie, IN 47303
Phone: 765-287-8469            email:

New Lullaby: Fourteen Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep is an outgrowth of the New Lullaby Project, brainchild of guitarist and educator Aaron Larget-Caplan (Beta, Boston Alumni).  All of the CD’s short solo pieces are newly commissioned by the artist and performed by Larget-Caplan with music insight and fluent technical aplombThe appealing theme and some delightful surprises will attract a listening public that’s often unwilling to give new music a hearing.  Short character pieces, a popular inclusion in concert programs a hundred years ago, challenge both composer and artist to convey their essence in a few brief moments.  This not mere background music; rather, the soothing and provocative sounds are mood enhancing and beckon personal involvement.

Composer Lynn Job creates a wide variety of stylistic techniques in “The Sixth Night.”  Chordal strumming, influence of classic flamenco style, jazz flourishes, and harmonic patterns from major to minor tonalities complement this very satisfying work.  Jonathan Feist’s “Leaky Roof” contains wide rhythmic movement and harmonic interest in rock-ballad style.  The ostinato bass contrasts energetically with the melody, and his use of harmonics for the concluding theme leaves us with a sense of peace.  In “No Time,” Feist weaves a poignantly memorable ballad, reminiscent of the Beatles’ style of melding seemingly uncomplicated harmonies.

Similarly, the introduction of Francine Trester’s “My Darling’s Slumber” expands into a Beatlesque melody, develops with a bluesy line, and leads into interesting harmonies and phrasings.  In “Nachtlied,” Scott Wheeler spins an enchanting melody with cross rhythms, punctuations of harmony, and use of rhythmic space to create silences, transporting the listener to restful peacefulness.

Cradle Song” by Kevin Siegfried is a true lullaby.  A pleasing melody creates a lulling, restful effect, and surprise modulations evoke emotional memories of different worlds.  In the melodically and harmonically rich “Descent to a Dream,” Mark Small employs broken chords, arpeggiated style, and chromatic interest to create a descriptive work.  Nolan Stolz’s “Lullaby for Sam” begins with a single motive and then embellishes it for interest, using portamenti to color the line.  Improvisational style and ostinato bass are the first sounds we hear in Carson Cooman’s “[Unfolding the Gates of Dawn, a] morning lullaby.”  Attractive use of characteristic guitar touches (strumming repeated notes, broken chords, silences, an dynamics) contribute to the effectiveness of the composition.

The sotto voce harmonics of John McDonald’s “You Are Alone to Sleep” set the melody with dissonant chordal punctuation, while in “berceuse” David Vayo produces an instant mood through human voice and whistling juxtaposed with guitar, an extremely clever listening adventure.  David Leisner’s “Disturbed, A Lullaby” begins on a Low A and then follows a single 12 tone-like pattern in playful movement, creating an intricate and thought-provoking experience that finds its final resting place on High A.  Eric Schwartz travels yet another area in his interesting compositional conception.  “Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times” opens with the sound of the ocean, builds a beautiful theme through the harmonic circle, silence, and the ocean once more.  Finally, Ryan Vigil focuses on the “other-worldly” timbre of the harmonic in “Shhhh” an innovative composition calling for scordatura tuning. — Sherry Kloss

About the Artist
Aaron LargetCaplan is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and has been a pupil of Dmitry Goryachev, David Leisner, Eliot Fisk and flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual.  His artistic achievements have been recognized by the D’Addario Foundation, American Composers Forum, Massachusetts Cultural Council, New England Conservatory and Mu Phi Epsilon.  His previous CD Tracing a wheel on water was released in 2006.  Currently on the faculty at the New School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he also maintains an active performing schedule and private studio.  His guitar was crafted of rosewood and German spruce by Stephan Connor.

This review appeared originally in the Triangle of Mu Phi Epsilon, Volume 104, Issue 3, page 9, Fall 2010

Fanfare Magazine, New Lullaby CD Review #2 – Jeremy Marchant

The second of two reviews in Fanfare – The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors


design Alex Fedorov

NEW LULLABY Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) SIX STRING SOUND 888-01 (52:46)


It would be too obvious to open this review with a remark about the impossibility of staying awake listening to a CD devoted to lullabies were the lullabies any good, so I won’t. In any case, the 14 lullabies presented here are too engaging to risk sleep. Aaron Larget-Caplan began seeking lullabies from composers in 2006. A smart idea: A relatively slight form requiring not too much time from composers is likely to generate returns. And so it has. This CD presents some of the first fruits of the New Lullaby Project ( from some 13 U.S. composers. Perhaps subsequent volumes could trawl for pieces from outside the States. Incidentally, it is interesting that most of the composers represented are men and most of them seem to have been inspired by their own small children.

In his notes, Larget-Caplan suggests that “there are two basic types of lullabies: one gives the listeners warmth and protection, while the second tends to be darker with hints of fear.” An interesting idea since I, for one, approached this CD with the assumption that it would be entirely, and deliberately, soporific. However, the permission to add darker elements has stimulated the composers to depart from this norm, greatly to the benefit of the disc. In fact, the definition of lullaby would seem to be stretched beyond even Larget-Caplan’s prescription and perhaps it would be best to think of this disc as containing a set of miniatures, largely quiet and moderate in tempo, on the subject of falling asleep rather than as enticements to do so.

At the relatively boisterous end of the spectrum are Francine Trester’s My Darling’s Slumber, which has a strong climax, and Mark Small’s ambitious Descent to a Dream. This latter documents the various stages of falling asleep, including the arrival of the dream state in which “fantastic ideas and connections that don’t go together in our waking moments seem real.” These are followed by forte strummed chords, which I fear would have woken Baby had she managed to slip into the arms of Morpheus in the first place. No matter. It is an interesting piece that gets a lot into four and a half minutes.

The more elaborate works are carefully positioned in this recital so that they counterpoint the more conventional calls to sleep. Of these, Scott Wheeler’s Nachtlied and Kevin Siegfried’s Cradle Song particularly appeal: fresh and tender songs without words. Another clever piece of programming is the way that the pieces that include harmonics gradually predominate at the end, culminating in Ryan Vigil’s Shhhh, composed entirely of harmonics.

Only Berceuse by David Vayo seems unsuccessful to me. It starts magically—with harmonics—but unfortunately soon asks the player to sing “ooos.” Then, rather like the cook who discovered that adding a little salt to the food made it taste better so he added a whole lot more, Vayo asks the player to shhhh, exhale, and whistle at length (too loud on the recording). But what is performed vocally seems too thin, too seemingly extraneous to the music, while the guitar part is reduced to a vestigial accompaniment. Definitely a case, here, where less would have been more. And the penultimate track, Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times by Eric Schwartz, comes with an inexplicably high level of hiss.

However, these are minor cavils in what is otherwise a remarkably successful, imaginative release. Aaron Larget-Caplan’s playing catches every nuance of the music, making the most of a deliberately restricted palette of colors and textures. The recorded sound of the guitar is excellent, striking a perfect balance: intimate, but giving the instrument some space so that the disc doesn’t become oppressive. — Jeremy Marchant

This article originally appeared in Issue 34:3 (Jan/Feb 2011) of Fanfare Magazine. • •

Fanfare Magazine, New Lullaby CD Review #1 – Barnaby Rayfield

The first of two reviews from Fanfare – The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors.

New Lullaby

New Lullaby, ad design Alex Fedorov

My comments follow the review.

Fanfare Magazine – FEATURE REVIEW by Barnaby Rayfield

NEW LULLABY Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) SIX STRING SOUND 888-01 (52:46)


I immediately took to Aaron Larget-Caplan, the moment I read his artist’s notes here: “I do not have kids,” he announces before explaining the harrowing experiences that followed the genesis of this lullaby project, four years ago. After the initial proposal to various composers for guitar lullabies, his house burned down, taking the new music with it. Then his wife was seriously injured two months later. Through these traumas, and with no fixed abode, Larget-Caplan has not been sleeping too well, and still the new lullabies kept coming in. His note of irony in the midst of genuine tragedy creates, in my mind, a very sincere musician. More importantly, he is a fine player, a classical guitarist with a keen ear for new music. He appears to have given his composers free rein with the lullaby form. This is not some, godawful, Classics-for-Baby CD, but 13 composers’ attempts at the lullaby form, not just in its healing wish to send someone to sleep, but also in its other, more folktale guise of the unsettling nighttime world.

Personal experience seems to be the overriding theme of these works. The wistful, sad No Time came from the composer [Jonathan Feist] waiting for his premature baby to be big enough to leave the hospital. Others take their inspiration from literature, like Wheeler’s Nachtlied, or McDonald’s You Are Alone To Sleep, while others can create little gems from the mundane, like the fast, drip-dripping of Leaky Roof [Feist]. Certainly, the first 30 minutes of this disc work as relaxation. If this sounds a little too soporific for some, there are darker works to pepper this sweet-toned album, like the urgent episode in the otherwise gentle Descent to a Dream [Small], the night excursions of a restless mind. Vayo’s Berceuse is actually quite frightening with its humming and whistling vocal line, lending the pleasant tune an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere. My one slight reservation is the order of the tracks, with these edgier works coming toward the end after an undemanding first half.

Many will think Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times bizarrely suffers from tape hiss, when in fact Schwartz is wittily trying to depict an urban lullaby, in a dirty apartment complete with off-air television snow. That could have been better conveyed, but otherwise the recital has been beautifully recorded, catching every expressive detail of Larget-Caplan’s playing. He is not afraid to change his sound for the right purpose; sometimes he achieves a harp-like sweetness, and at others he can be acerbic and unsettling. I am not usually a huge fan of solo guitar recitals, especially when it could have been so monotonously relaxing, but something new has been attempted here, and it makes me hope that Larget-Caplan looks both back and forward in time to gather up future volumes and create a Lullaby Almanac. Choose your tracks wisely, if want your child to sleep; for the rest of us, though, these make diverting nocturnal wanderings. — Barnaby Rayfield

Print Edition will be available in January 2011

This article originally appeared in Issue 34:3 (Jan/Feb 2011) of Fanfare Magazine. • •

Needless to say, I am very pleased!  What do you think?  This is a review for music collectors, but does it connect to more than just the few?

I find his opening comments on my program notes, which he actually read (not always the case), spot-on.  And I am in complete accordance with his distaste for ‘music to relax to’.  I nearly puked when my hero, Julian Bream, came out with such a CD.  I know it is money but how ugly!  Sorry.
I wonder if adding a click (à la television) at the beginning of Song Softly Song, in Trying Times or a couple of snores in the middle would help Mr. Rayfield feel the television gone-to-snow that Eric created?  I would actually like more snow on the recording – a blizzard!

By the way, I added all of the italics and bold type.


Audience email after Salem State Univ. recital

Hi Aaron,

I enjoyed your performance last night incredibly… your music literally soothed my nerves!  Thank you for the opportunity to experience your talent. Your dedication to music is most obvious, and you have a beautiful personality.  Wishing you the best.


6 Busy Weeks

14 Concerts – Sep. 25-Nov. 4
9 – Solo
2 – Duo with flute
1 – Trio w/ flute, violin and guitar
1 – Master Class
3 – World Premieres – Hayg Boyadjian, Barnaby Oliver, Thomas L. Read
3 – Musicians – Melissa Voshell – flute, Orlando Cela – flute/cuatro, Annegret Klaua, violin

28 Compositions:

Albéniz – Asturias, Granada, Sevilla
Barrios – La Catedral***, Una Limosna
Piazzolla – Verano Porteño
Dyens – Tango en Skaï***
Bach – Prelude-Fugue-Allegro, Prelude, Fugue in A minor
Torroba – Sonatina
Brouwer – Cancion de cuna***
Siegfried – Tracing a wheel on water***
Wheeler – Nachtlied*
Feist – Leaky Roof* and No Time*
Trester – My Darling’s Slumber*
Vayo – Berceuse*
Job – The Sixth Night*
McDonald – You are Alone to Sleep*
Stolz – Lullaby for Sam*
Lauro – Carora
Gershwin/Takemitsu – Summertime
Piazzolla – Bordel 1900**, Cafe 1930, Libertango
Carulli – Trio Op. 9, No. 2
Anon. – Romance
Tarrega – Recuerdos de la Alhambra
Schwartz – Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times*

* Recorded on New Lullaby
** Recorded on Diablo y Tango
*** Recorded on Tracing a wheel on water

It was great fun and I look forward to the next series of concerts!  Thanks to all who took part.