Archive for January, 2011

American Record Guide New Lullaby CD Review

American Record Guide, January/February 2001, p. 227

New Lullaby

Composers: Job, Feist, Trester, Wheeler, Siegfried, Small, Stolz, Cooman, McDonald, Vayo, Leisner, Schwarts, Vigil
Aaron Larget-Caplan, guitar
Six String Sound 888-01 – 53 minutes

Mr. Larget-Caplan directs the New Lullaby Project from his home base in Boston.  Here he has collected 14 lullabies from 13 composers, most not well known (only David Leisner was familiar to me, and he as one of our finest guitarists who also composes).  All the pieces were composed between 2006 and 2009.  Each is well crafted, and each performance is well played and sensitive.  The notes include descriptions of each piece by its composer.

Larget-Caplan says in his introduction that the works are of two types, the first consoling and protective, but a second type that is quietly disturbing, as if on the edge of a sleep troubled with bad dreams.  They are presented in what might be described as ascending order of weirdness.  The early pieces are all fairly conventional, pretty, and soothing.  Others near the end have other qualities.  David Vayo’s ‘Berceuse’ is the longest piece, at seven minutes, and asks the performer to sing (or, in Larget-Caplan’s case, to moan) and whistle.  His notes don’t indicate that his intent was anything other than consoling, but the effect is rather creepy.

David Leisner’s ‘Disturbed, a Lullaby’ is indeed disturbing, with a non-tonal, pointillistic texture, as if he were attempting a quiet irony.  The final work, Ryan Vigil’s ‘Shhhh’, is done entirely in harmonics, with three strings tuned to alternate pitches.  The work is five minutes of nearly inaudible sounds that get even softer as the piece progresses.

It will come as no surprise that I don’t recommend that you hear this recording all in one sitting.  Every piece is quiet (don’t wake the baby!), and that can become monotonous.  Some pieces are charming, some disturbing.  –Keaton

Kenneth Keaton is a professor of music at a Florida university and has earned three degrees in classical guitar performance.

New Lullaby is available on Amazon, CDBaby and itunes

Minor Concert of Major Music • program and notes • Cambridge

Aaron Larget-Caplan, guitar
Kai-Ching Chang, piano

New School of Music
25 Lowell St, Cambridge • FREE
Friday January 7, 2011 • 7:30pm


Prelude – Fugue – Allegro, BWV 998 byJ.S. Bach

Quatre Pièces Brèves pour guitarre (1933 edition) by Frank Martin

  1. Prelude
  2. Air
  3. Plainte (complaint)
  4. Comme une gigue (like a gigue)

Tracing a wheel on water (2003) by Kevin Siegfried

Elegie für die guitarre  by J.K. Mertz

Movements from El Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo
I. Allegretto
II. Adagio


J.S. Bach (1685-1750) – Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998 was originally titled “Prelude pour la luth ò cembal” and written in E-flat major.  It was probably performed on a Lautenwerck or lute-harpsichord.  For this performance the work is transposed to D-major.

The work is in three movements beginning with a style brisé (broken chord) Prelude.  The Fugue is the monumental movement, containing almost twice as many measures as the prelude and allegro (double measures).  The A-B-A form of the fugue, which is found rarely in the fugues of Bach, is dominated by the 8-quarter note fugue subject.  The Allegro is a fast and colorful finish.

Frank Martin (1890-1974)– A Swiss composer who spent much of his life in the Netherlands, Frank Martin originally wrote Quatre Pièces Brèves in 1933 for Andrés Segovia who, due to his very conservative musical tastes, refused to play it.  Martin then wrote a piano version called, guitarre.  The guitar version resurfaced in an edited version in the 1970’s with Julian Bream.  Trudi Van Slyck and Aaron performed the two versions in a 2007 concert at the New School of music.

Written in 1933, Quatre Pièces Brèves, echoes the foreboding tensions that were taking place across Europe, though it also harkens back to an earlier time with its semblance of a Baroque Suite in its movement’s construction.

The Prelude traverses tempi and emotions and hints at the dance that finishes the suite by including flamenco strumming or rasqueado (Martin’s daughter danced flamenco).  The beauty and transparency of the second movement Air is brushed aside by the dissonant and tedious third movement Plainte, who’s ending recalls the first movement’s fast section.  The last movement jumps in its rhythmic groupings from 3 to 2 and all around like a gigue, but like the suite…it is not.

Kevin Siegfried (b. 1969) – A graduate of the New England Conservatory with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition. He also studied additionally in Paris, at La Schola Cantorum, and in India, with South Indian classical musician Sriram Parasuram.  Since 2004, he has been a faculty member at Boston Conservatory.

Tracing a Wheel on Water was written in 2003, shortly after moving from Boston to the southern coast of Maine. My family and I were fortunate to rent a house directly situated on a tidal inlet, and it was only a matter of time before the cycle of tides and the play of light and water began to shape our lives. My first composition for solo guitar, Tracing is a meditation on my experience of the water’s surface. In particular, it reflects the interplay of stasis and movement, and the manner in which flowing circles on the water’s surface envelop one another in a rhythm that is always new, yet never changing.  It received its premiere at Boston Conservatory in 2005 and its commercial release in 2006, both by Aaron Larget-Caplan.  Tracing has been performed in over 50 concerts across the country and in Italy since its premiere.

J.K. Mertz (1806-1856) – A Hungarian composer and guitar virtuoso whose prominence faded after his death.  His compositions number over a hundred and though most are for guitar solo or include guitar he also wrote music for small ensembles.  The piano music of Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn is quite apparent with his fondness for arpeggio accompaniments and harmonic language.  Currently, he is most well known for his solo guitar works including 6 Schubert song arrangement (à la Lizst), Elegie, and Hungarian Rhapsody.  Written towards the end of his life, Elegie, is a piece of lament.  To whom, we do not know.

Joaquin Rodrigo (1900-1999) – The most famous Spanish composer of the 20th century, Rodrigo wrote his monumental concerto for guitar and orchestra for Spanish guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza in 1939 while living in Paris.  Probably his most famous work, and one of the most difficult in the guitar repertoire, the second movement Adagio is one of the most beautiful compositions with its conversation between English horn and guitar.  The Adagio is often quoted or copied, most famously by Miles Davis on his Sketches of Spain album, for which Rodrigo received no royalty or mention (watch out for countries that don’t respect artist’s rights!).  Interesting to note that Andrés Segovia refused to play the concerto during his lifetime, saying he did not like the rasqueados (flamenco strumming) of the first movement!

The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at the Palacio Real de Aranjuez in central Spain.   Joaquin and his wife, spent time walking through the gardens after their marriage.  Rodrigo described the concerto itself as capturing “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains in the gardens of Aranjuez.”

About the Artist
Called “A riveting artist” by G. Acosta of The Washington Post, founder of the New Lullaby Project and the classical Spanish music & flamenco dance group ¡Con Fuego!, classical guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan is a sought after soloist and chamber musician.  A gifted performer and speaker, Aaron has released two solo discs, Tracing a wheel on water (2006) and New Lullaby (2010).  He is also featured on the recent Albany Records release, Vientos – Music of Hayg Boyadjian, and soon to be released, Classic American Songbook with baritone Donald Wilkinson.  Born in Oklahoma and raised in Colorado, Aaron is a graduate of the New England Conservatory in Boston where he studied with David Leisner and Eliot Fisk.  Following the conservatory, Aaron studied with Dmitry Goryachev for seven years, while immersing himself in Cathar Yoga and healing with his wife, healer and muse, Catherine.  Aaron teaches at the New School of Music in Cambridge, has an active private studio in Boston, and gives enrichment programs for listeners of all-ages in schools and other community settings.

Kai-Ching Chang

B.M. in Piano Performance, Soochow University (Taiwan). M.M. with Distinction in Piano Performance, Longy School of Music, Artist Diploma in Collaborative Piano, Longy School of Music. Winner of Longy’s 2007 Honors Competition, and 2007 Patricia Sherman Award. Prize Winner in the 1999 Seidof and Sons Piano Competition, Taiwan. Former orchestral violinist. Current staff accompanist for PALS Children’s Chorus. Piano and violin teacher since 1998.  Faculty at the New School of Music.

Recent praise of Aaron’s latest CD New Lullaby:
[Aaron] is a fine player, a classical guitarist with a keen ear for new music…This is not some, godawful, Classics-for-Baby CD, something new has been attempted here…  — B. Rayfield – Fanfare Magazine

New Lullaby is a beautiful, perceptive, and evocative performance that earns and deserves your rapt appreciation. Most of all, however, it felt to me like a courageous exploration of a mood or a state that is rarely identified, and these days all-too rarely enjoyed: attentive peacefulness.
– Glenn Kurtz, author of “Practicing, a musicians return to music”

The appealing theme and some delightful surprises will attract a listening public that’s often unwilling to give new music a hearing. [New Lullaby] is not mere background music; rather, the soothing and provocative sounds are mood enhancing and beckon personal involvement.  – S. Kloss, Upon Listening, Mu Phi Epsilon

Well crafted, well played and sensitive” – American Record Guide