Archive for the ‘Contemporary Music’ Category

Prepared Guitars – Bacchanale by Cage

Bacchanale by John Cage

Prepared Piano intoPrepared Guitars

Bacchanale was Cage’s first piece for prepared piano. Finding that the stage was too small for both  dancer/choreographer Syvilla Fort and the needed battery of percussion, so Cage decided to fix weather stripping, bolts, screws and nuts into the strings of the piano to create a percussion ensemble, Fort, a colleague of Cage’s at Cornish College, asked for a composition of African inspiration. Only twelve notes are used in the piece, all of which are prepared. In the piano version preparation is predominantly weatherstripping and the performer is instructed to “determine position and size of mutes by experiment.

*click below to listen to Aaron & Adam Levin perform Bacchanale – track 14

Translating the preparations to the guitar posed a couple of challenges and I asked myself a few questions:

Q: Why prepare the strings at all, since the guitar will already not sound like a prepared piano?

A: I actually played the work completely as written with no preparations for a while. It fits on two guitars (guitar 1 = right hand, guitar 2 = left hand), without much adjustment, so I knew it was possible.

I was also not a big fan of prepared guitar with the works I had heard and seen in the past. At times I felt such works were more of an excuse to the performer to be seen as dramatic and serious. But, as I listened to more and more recordings of prepared piano and experienced the vast changes of timbre and percussion vs. piano sounds, I was inspired to experiment on my own.

Q: Isn’t guitar already considered a percussion instrument. 

A: Yes and no. A flamenco guitar has a much lower action (strings closer to the fret board), which allows the strings to hit the frets when played apoyando (reststroke) or rasgueado (flamenco strumming). In such case, yes, it is both melody and percussion.

A classical guitar has a higher action (strings further from the fret board), which allows for more timbre choice, louder individual notes, more resonance, and depending on the player, cleaner tone.

These are broad generalizations, and do not say one is better than the other. Each guitar represents a very different style of music and artists are aware of it.

As a side note, a recording engineer I work with originally didn’t want to record guitar, because to him it just sounds like a box with strings. I convinced him otherwise.

Q: What are some of the challenges of preparing the guitar? 

A: 1 – Gravity. If I clip something on to the strings and hold the guitar in the normal playing position those clips can easily flip towards the ground touching ‘higher’ strings or the wood of the soundboard. I also had to find a way to hold the substitute for weatherstripping in the strings without letting it fall out when being played.

2 – Only one string. Each note of the piano has three strings, so one can add a screw between two strings and not touch any other pitch.

3 – No slurs. Yes, if you do a left hand slur (hammer or pull off) the preparations don’t really sound.

4 – Nylon strings and no cast iron frame. Since the strings use much less tension weatherstripping will completely mute the string. I had to find a substitute that gave a percussive sound and a bit of pitch.

Q: When and where can I get the score?

A: Edition Peters will be publishing my arrangement in early 2019.

Piano Preparations

Guitar Preparations

Purchase the album on Amazon: http://a.co/d/1u6L6kk

PRESS RELEASE – John. Cage. Guitar.

JOHN. CAGE. GUITAR.

CD RELEASE DATE: 2 November 2018
Stone Records Limited

AARON LARGET-CAPLAN, GUITAR
SHARAN LEVENTHAL, VIOLIN
ADAM LEVIN, GUITAR

International guitar virtuoso Aaron Larget-Caplan returns with a second ground-breaking recording for Stone Records. The first classical guitar recording dedicated to the music of John Cage, it features seven early and mid-career compositions, dating from 1933 through 1950 for solo guitar, violin and guitar, and prepared guitar duo. The music is playful, meditative, meandering, introspective, large, quiet, rambunctious, haunting, and regal. Lyricism of Satie and foreshadowing of minimalism and even rock are present on the album.

Aaron was first introduced to the music of John Cage as a student at the New England Conservatory. Disappointed by the lack of representation by mid-century American composers in the guitar repertoire, Aaron chose to make his own arrangements of Cage’s music; the first officially sanctioned arrangements of the 20th century American icon for guitar – now published by Edition Peters. He found similarities in arranging Cage to arranging Bach, claiming the music to be so strong on its own that instrumentation felt secondary: Beautiful music is beautiful. All guitar parts were originally written for solo piano or prepared piano. The compositions required few adjustments from the originals and fit very well on the guitar. Aaron is joined by violinist Sharan Leventhal (Kepler String Quartet) and guitarist Adam Levin.

Whether a cognoscente or someone who wants to discover more about John Cage, this disc is a wonderful recital of one of the great twentieth-century composers, newly imagined and expertly played by wonderful artists.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM

“Aaron Larget-Caplan is a riveting artist. His classical guitar performance was a treasure”
– The Washington Post

“A fascinating program … with irresistible mastery”
– American Record Guide

“Astounding technical proficiency and artistic delicacy”
– Boston Musical Intelligencer

BIOGRAPHIES

Aaron Larget-Caplan is a classical guitarist noted for his “astounding technical proficiency and artistic delicacy” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), renowned for as a recording and touring artist throughout Europe, Russia and the United States. A champion of new music and collaborations, Aaron has premiered over 80 solo and chamber compositions, many being the first compositions for guitar by the commissioned composers. In concerts and recordings, Aaron utilizes many of his own arrangements of music by J.S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Reynaldo Hahn, and numerous Spanish composers. His arrangements of John Cage are the first officially sanctioned arrangements of Cage’s music for guitar and are exclusively published by Edition Peters. Aaron is the founder of the New Lullaby Project, a 21st century commissioning and recording endeavour, which has seen over 55 premieres since 2007 of classical miniatures in the genre of a lullaby.

Sharan Leventhal, violin, has toured four continents as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. She has received grants from the NEA, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording, Chamber Music America, New Music U.S.A., and the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, and has premiered well over 130 works. Sharan has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, is a founding member of the Kepler Quartet, Marimolin, and Gramercy Trio, and can be heard on the New World, Northeastern, Newport Classic, Naxos, Navona, GM and Catalyst labels. She teaches at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music, and is founder and director of Play On, Inc., a non-profit supporting chamber music programs for children.

Adam Levin is a guitarist praised for his “visceral and imaginative” performances (Washington Post) and has performed extensively throughout the USA, Europe, and South America. He has received numerous top prizes, including the Fulbright Scholarship, the Program for Cultural Cooperation Fellowship from Spain’s Cultural Ministry, and the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship to research and perform contemporary Spanish guitar repertoire in Madrid, Spain. He commissioned thirty solo guitar works from four generations of contemporary Spanish composers, which resulted in a contract for a four-volume encyclopaedic series for Naxos, 21st Century Spanish Guitar.

www.stonerecords.co.uk

ENDS

 

Artists:                               Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar); Sharan Leventhal (violin); Adam Levin (guitar)

Disc:                                 John. Cage. Guitar.

Label:                                Stone Records

Catalogue number/barcode:  5060192780833

Release date:                     2 November 2018

Track Listing:

1.       A Room

2.       Three Easy Pieces – I – Round

3.       Three Easy Pieces – II – Duo

4.       Three Easy Pieces – III – Infinite Canon

5.       Chess Pieces

6.       Dream

7.       Six Melodies – I – Melody 1

 

8.       Six Melodies – II – Melody 2

9.       Six Melodies – III – Melody 3

10.     Six Melodies – IV – Melody 4

11.     Six Melodies – V – Melody 5

12.     Six Melodies – VI – Melody 6

13.     In a Landscape

14.     Bacchanale

 

C4NM April 7 Concert Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         March 4, 2018

BACH FROM MUMBAI & CAGE ON GUITAR

American guitar virtuoso Aaron Larget-Caplan returns to San Francisco for a one-night-only performance of ReImaginationS at the Center For New Music on Saturday April 7 at 7pm, 55 Taylor Street in San Francisco, Tenderloin neighborhood.

ReImaginationS explores keyboard works arranged for solo guitar by J.S. Bach and John Cage. The Cage compositions are from his early and mid-career, that vary from simple contrapuntal forms (Round, Canon) to dance works influenced by composer Erik Satie and Japanese music and aesthetics: spacious, modal and lyrical. Larget-Caplan’s arrangements were recently published by Edition Peters, and seek to explore the timbre qualities of the guitar and the spirit of the 20th century American icon. They are the first sanctioned arrangements for guitar.

Indian-American composer Vineet Shende (Bowdoin College) reimagined J.S. Bach through the prism of him being born in Mumbai, India in his Preludes from the Well-Tempered Clavier. Shende’s ‘Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach’ rewrite them in South Indian Carnatic musical language using ragas (modes/scales), as well as tala (shifts in rhythmic groupings and metric modulations), which often play an analogous role to what harmonic tension/release does in Western music. The three Carnatic Preludes on the program are paired with Larget-Caplan’s artistic transcriptions of the original keyboard preludes for guitar. The musical collaboration is a true fusion of musical cultures between India & European classical music, and the musical epochs of the 18th and 21st centuries. All of the compositions featured are California premieres!

Larget-Caplan is on a solo 2-week 10-concert tour on the west coast that takes him from Los Angeles and Bakersfield through the Bay Area and Sacramento, before he heads to Oregon. “I am very excited to be returning to C4NM and the Bay Area. The Bay Area is a perfect metaphor for my artistic imagination of various cultures positively influencing each other, living side-by-side and sharing in their arts. The Center for New Music is a gem and an important part of sharing in the cultural fabric that classical music often forgets to do or keeps in academia. I look forward to premiering these works with the SF community!”

ABOUT THE ARTIST & ARRANGER
Noted for his “astounding technical proficiency and artistic delicacy” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Aaron Larget-Caplan is an international recording and touring guitarist, as well as an outlier in the classical music community. He often performs new music in rural and non-academic venues for people of all-ages, he has premiered over 75 compositions with many being written for him, and regularly highlights composers of non-western backgrounds in his concerts. Aaron’s arrangements of the music of John Cage are published by Edition Peters, and a recording dedicated to John Cage on guitar will be released in 2018 on Stone Records (UK). Stone, Albany, and Parma Records issue his solo and chamber recordings. He is on faculty at University of Massachusetts Boston and formerly Boston Conservatory.

Video Introduction of the John Cage Collection (2’): https://youtu.be/vJdTXTcxJfE
Center For New Music: www.CenterForNewMusic.com
Artist info: www.ALCGuitar.com • info@ALCGuitar.com
C4NM Contact: Kurt Rohde, kurtrohde@dslextreme.com
C4NM Event Page: http://centerfornewmusic.com/calendar/reimaginations-cage-shende-bach-on-guitar-aaron-larget-caplan/
Audio of Carnatic Prelude N. 1: https://soundcloud.com/aaronlcguitar/shende-carnatic-prelude-1

CALENDAR LISTING

Saturday April 7 at 7pm • San Francisco, CA
ReImaginationS – Cage, Shende & Bach on Guitar
Aaron Larget-Caplan, guitar
Admission: $10 Members • $15 General • Door or Online
Where: Center for New Music, 55 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Info: (415) 275-C4NM (2466)
Info: www.centerfornewmusic.com/?p=4126
FBevent: www.facebook.com/events/141279946502125/

 

Classical Guitar Magazine – John Cage

Recent Sheet Music Releases: John Cage, Spanish Renaissance Music for Guitar, and Raúl Maldonado

John Cage
Piano Music Arranged for Guitar
(arr. Aaron Larget-Caplan)
Editions Peters, 20 pp.

Aaron Larget-Caplan is fast becoming perhaps the greatest guitar advocate for the music of John Cage (1912–1992). Having previously arranged Cage’s Six Melodies (originally written for violin and piano) for violin and guitar, he has now put together a collection of Cage piano pieces arranged for solo guitar. As Larget-Caplan notes, the collection features five early and mid-career compositions by John Cage, dating from 1933 through 1948. . . The compositions required little adjustment from the originals, mainly in the form of register modifications, and fit very well on the guitar. All phrase and dynamic markings follow the published originals. Very few left and right hand fingerings are included in the publication, to allow the performers their own realizations. All of the works retain their original keys and are presented in chronological order.”

If you still think of Cage as either a peculiar modernist or wispy minimalist (or both), you will probably be surprised by the warm and sonorous nature of many of these pieces. In its piano version, for example, In a Landscape, almost sounds like it could be a lovely evocation of a Japanese woodblock print, with its delicate, unfolding melody and elegant and mesmerizing short scalar runs, which resemble a koto in parts. Two of the Three Easy Pieces (all very short) look back at Baroque and/or early classical music. Dream (watch below) is quiet, tender, contemplative. The other two works are “A Room” and “Chess Pieces,” each interesting and attractive as piano works, and no doubt on guitar as well.  —Blair Jackson 

 

Cage for Guitar Review

The first review of CAGE – PIANO MUSIC ARRANGED FOR GUITAR!!

Thanks to Julio J. Sequeira and the quarterly MU PHI EPSILON (ΜΦΕ) Triangle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READ IT ONLINE: http://online.fliphtml5.com/tuhv/dvrd/#p=10

Cage Coming Soon in November!

“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!
screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-44-07-pm

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

CD Review by This is Classical Guitar

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-15-43-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-18-07-pm 
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!