Archive for the ‘Contemporary Music’ Category

“Stunning Performance” – CD Review

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.
legend-of-hagoromo-triangle-fall-2016

Amazon: http://a.co/iyMs1Zd
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-legend-of-hagoromo/id1007477239
ArkivMusic: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=2135600

The complete Fall 2016 issue of ‘The Triangle’: HERE

Aaron on Conducting Conversations WCRI

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.

Happy Listening!
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http://classical959.podbean.com/e/06-05-16-aaron-larget-caplan-conducting-conversations/

CD Review by This is Classical Guitar

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The Legend of Hagoromo

American & Japanese Music for Classical Guitar
by Aaron Larget-Caplan
Stone Records 2015
Visit This is Classical Guitar

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. Larget-Caplan-coverI 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:

  1. Keigo Fujii: The Legend of Hagoromo
  2. Leo Brouwer: Hika, in memoriam Toru Takemitsu
  3. Toru Takemitsu: Equinox
  4. Ken Ueno: Ed è subito sera*
  5. Kota Nakamura: Sui-hou*
  6. Harold Arlen: Over the rainbow
  7. George Gershwin: Summertime
  8. Martin MaxSchreiner: Japanese idyll no.1*
  9. Martin Max Schreiner: Japanese idyll no.2*
    *Première recording 

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.

 Conclusion

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 Arrangement”

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 Americansix-melodies-cage-guitar 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/

Thanks Bradford!

Publication Review – Six Melodies by John Cage

“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 six-strings-of-the-world-poland-reviewcontemporary 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
www.szescsrunswiata.pl

2013 Premiere Performance with Sharan Leventhal at the Boston Conservatory

 

Classical Guitar CD Review

Aaron’s latest CD ‘The Legend of Hagoromo’ (Stone Records 2015) received a glowing review in the Spring 2016 issue of Classical Guitar.

Quotes:

  • “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.”

Classical Guitar Magazine, Spring 2016

Find it on:
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00ZIILRQK
iTunes: https://goo.gl/2rmsbD

Six Strings Around the World – CD Review

The legend of Hagoromo, Stone Records 2015

“To write that Larget­-Caplan has something to boast about would be to say too little, the guitarist is not afraid of any tempo, with each increasingly spectacular fragment coming through not only with lightness, but with recklessness.”

“The interpretation is refined, every phrase flattering, every sound consciously derived. This artist approaches the played pieces with enormous respect, trying to above all reveal the idea of the composer.”

“A delicious and poetic interpretation of Takemitsu’s Equinox

“Certainly for the better parts ­ and the quality of their presentation ­ the album is worth a listen.”

– Six Strings Around the World (February 2016)

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El Virtuoso de la Guitarra – CD Review

The Spanish website www.GuitarristaOnline.es reviewed Aaron’s latest CD.

The Legend of Hagoromo de Aaron Larget-Caplan

CF005633El virtuoso de la guitarra

Aaron Larget-Caplan es mucho más que uno de los líderes guitarristas clásicos de su generación; es un embajador de su arte, como lo demuestra con su primer CD en solitario para Stone Records que lleva por título The Legend of Hagoromo.

Comprendiendo una mezcla embriagadora de música japonesa y americana, esa fusión-recital es concebida brillantemente y realizada por este virtuoso músico. El disco incluye un número de debut grabaciones que incluyen títulos como Ed è subito sera de Ken Ueno, Sui-hou de Nakamura y Japanese idylls de Martin Schreiner, algunas de las cuales se han escrito específicamente para el, así como la proeza epónima, The legend of Hagoromo – una moderna obra maestra que destaca especialmente por poseer una vitalidad maravLarget-Caplan-coverillosa.

Esa fusión cruzada confluye en el trabajo entre compositores de Japón y de América, donde se escribe música inspirada en la cultura del otro, incluyendo las adaptaciones sorprendentes de Summertime y Somewhere over the rainbow de Toru Takemitsu.
Estamos ante una música clásica carismática, estupenda y magnífica.

El reconocimiento de la crítica no se ha hecho esperar y Aaron Larget-Caplan se ha visto recompensado con elogios hacia su capacidad técnica, su delicadeza artística y su magnífico talento al servicio de los sentidos.

Aaron Larget-Caplan debutó a los dieciséis años. Desde entonces hizo las primeras representaciones de más de sesenta y cinco composiciones y ha tocado en Estados Unidos, Rusia y Europa.
Estamos ante un artista talentoso, un solista buscado y un músico de cámara que se atreve tanto con un repertorio moderno como clásico. Sus grabaciones han recibido el reconocimiento de la crítica de Audiophile, Fanfare, American Record Guide, Guitar Magazine y mucho más.
Como músico de cámara ha presentado obras para conjuntos grandes y pequeños incluyendo coro, cuarteto de cuerda, dúos de todos tipos y grupos mixtos.

Colabora regularmente con bailarines y es el fundador del grupo ¡Con Fuego! que yuxtapone música española clásica con baile y canción flamenco. Él presenta muchos de sus propios arreglos de J.S. Bach, D. Scarlatti y compositores españoles. Su arreglo de “Six Melodies” de John Cage es publicado por Edition Peters y ha derechos exclusivos de Éditions Musicales Alphonse Leduc pour sus arreglos de canciones de Reynaldo Hahn. También es el director y el fundador de Greater House Concerts. Está graduado por el New England Conservatory of Music de Boston donde estudio con David Leisner. Su principal profesor de guitarra fue Dmitry Goryachev y el recibió entrenamiento adicional de Eliot Fisk, Juanito Pascual, y del pianista Seymour Bernstein.

Si quieres escuchar cómo suena la música de este guitarrista, pincha en el siguiente vídeo:

Más información en: www.stonerecords.co.uk

http://www.guitarristaonline.es/noticia/7485/clasica/el-virtuoso-de-la-guitarra.html

27/3/2016

Inspired by Paintings with Composer Thomas L. Read

Thomas L. Read

           Thomas L. Read

I have always been intrigued by music that looked towards the visual arts for inspiration. Of course Pictures in an Exhibition by Mussorgsky is one of the most famous, but I am equally thrilled by the Joan Miró painting  Equinox, which inspired Toru Takemitsu’s guitar solo of the same title, which I recorded in 2005 and again in 2015. In 2013 composer Thomas L. Read composed a guitar and cello duo for me titled ‘Concert Champêtre’ .

Concert Champetre painting - Titian

                                 Titian

Read, professor emeritus of University of Vermont Burlington and an New England Conservatory alumni, wrote me about the piece:

“The initial concept of the duet emerged with recollection of two famous paintings: Le Concert Champêtre, c. 1509, by Titian, and Et in Arcadia Ego, 1639, by Nicolas Poussin. The music is cast in three interconnected movements played without pause.”

‘Le Concert Champêtre’ (The Pastoral Concert) is an oil painting of c. 1509 attributed to either of the Italian Renaissance masters, Titian or Giorgione. It is in the Musée du Louvre in Paris

Et-in-Arcadia-ego

                         Nicolas Poussin

‘Et in Arcadia ego’ is a 1637–38 painting by Nicolas Poussin. It depicts a pastoral scene with idealized shepherds from classical antiquity clustering around an austere tomb

I gave the first performance of Concert Champêtre at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia with cellist  Anton Andreev on May 22, 2014. I have since performed it in Boston, New Hampshire and again in Russia. The Spanish premiere is being planned for summer 2016 and there is hope for a near future recording. The work is published by the American Composers Alliance and the guitar part is edited by me.

Here is a video in Boston with cellist Anton from November 2014:

 

‘Six Melodies’ Published by Edition Peters!

Exciting news!

Aaron’s Arrangement of ‘Six Melodies’ for violin & guitar by John Cage is now published and available through Edition Peters!

http://www.edition-peters.com/product/modern/six-melodies-for-violin-and-guitar/ep68526?TRE00000/

    Six Melodies by John Cage

Written in 1955 and originally for violin and keyboard, Aaron’s arrangement is the first John Cage composition featuring the guitar to be published by Editions Peters, the official publisher of the music of John Cage.

For those not experienced in the early writing of John Cage, the Six Melodies are a wonAaron & Cagederful introduction to a vibrant musical mind whose influence cannot be underestimated. The Six Melodies are quite approachable and audience friendly though their ability to transport listeners to other realms must be considered when programming. The arrangement explores and expands on the timbre (color) qualities of the guitar in place of the keyboard, and the guitar’s more intimate sound compliments the unique violin playing for a truly complimentary duo. Music progressions and hierarchy of pitches take a backseat to an expansive exploration of timbre and rhythm.

Cage_ScoresDuring this period of his composition, John Cage was greatly influenced by the I-Ching, Book of Changes, creating many works based on ‘chance-operations’ during the composing process. The influence of Asian music through rhythm patterns can be heard with the works written in rhythmic structures: 3½, 3½, 4, 4, 3, 4.

The work is not easy for violin with many harmonics and jumps due to the exact string indications given. Cage also asks for no vibrato and minimum weight on the bow. The guitar part is somewhat demanding with a few unusual chords, timbre directions and counting. As a duo there are some wonderful hockets especially in Melodies 3 and 4.

A recording of ‘Six Melodies’ is being planned for 2016-2017. Special thanks to Stephen Drury for the idea of this arrangement and to Sharan Leventhal in giving the first performance at the Boston Conservatory in 2012.

The score is available for purchase through the Edition Peters website:  http://goo.gl/Lj3L8g

For those who do perform or hear it live, please let me know by commenting on this post or via my Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/aaronlcguitar