Archive for the ‘Recordings’ Category

Review: John. Cage. Guitar – Classical Guitar Magazine

John. Cage. Guitar.
Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar and prepared guitar) 
with Sharan Leventhal (violin) and Adam Levin (prepared guitar)
Stone Records

Ear-opening Cage on guitar

One scenario I yearn to witness is a quiz-master demolishing an other wise unassailable contestant by asking him to name a work by John Cage, other than 4’33”. Possible answers are numerous, but known only to those who’ve done their homework. What Cage apparently didn’t do was compose for guitar, leaving a gap that is definitively filled by this ear-opening release from American guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan.

Drawing on Cage’s catalog for piano and prepared piano, Larget-Caplan eases the listener into the proceedings with the hypnotic soundscape of A Room, the word “minimalist” being invoked for a second time in the performer’s notes, alongside a disclaimer that “Cage did not use the term.” Whatever the genre, the two-part textures have a transparency ideally suited to the guitar. This is enhanced by Larget-Caplan’s tidy and understated playing, the feeling of brightness and focus well-captured by engineer Steve Hunt. Likewise Three Easy Pieces, in which the tonal/modal language prompts Larget-Caplan to suggest the first two pieces “could easily be mistaken for 19th century guitar compositions.” Few are likely to confuse Cage with Carulli, but the comparison is not without merit.

As the album progresses, occasional sharp edges emerge, most notably in the deliciously noisy Bacchanale, arranged for two prepared guitars. However, anyone hoping this CD will perpetuate the false image of Cage as merely a purveyor of the impenetrable will leave empty-handed. —Paul Fowles

Classical Guitar Magazine, Spring 2019, P. 67

 

Review: John. Cage. Guitar. – THE ARTS FUSE

John Cage on guitar? Why not? Though the American maverick never wrote explicitly for the instrument, some of his early piano music was adaptable enough for guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan to arrange for his instrument. The results, out now John Cage: Guitar, are often enticing and plenty appealing.

Larget-Caplan’s program consists of seven Cage pieces, all of which originated in the 1930s and ‘40s, a couple of which are remarkably prescient. The opener, A Room, for instance, anticipates the Minimalist procedures of a later generation or two. And the prepared-guitar closer, Bacchanale, sounds a couple decades younger than it is, almost like a kind of high-brow anticipation of Jimi Hendrix.

In between come Cage’s Three Easy Pieces, which sound like just that: a set of short, contrapuntal exercises that exude not a little bit of charm, especially the central “Duo.” Chess Pieces and Dream are more substantial. The former is adapted from a composition that appears in a 1944 Cage painting while the latter, a ruminative essay, was originally conceived as a dance piece. In a Landscape is another affecting, resonant meditation.

Then there are Six Pieces, a set of radiant miniatures for violin and guitar, in which Larget-Caplan’s joined by violinist Sharon Leventhal. Cage’s writing here is highly specific – the violin part, for instance, indicates which string each note is supposed to be played on – but the music itself is anything but restrained, ranging from the quiet ecstasy of “Melody 1” to the jaunty syncopations of “Melody 3” and the subdued glow of “Melody 6.”

Larget-Caplan’s performances are excellent. Technically, he’s got everything under control, no matter how involved the arrangements get. What’s more, his playing brims with charisma and understanding: Cage can be a tough composer to really bring to life. Larget-Caplan (and Leventhal, in Six Pieces) manage the feat impressively.

Classical Music CD Reviews: ROCO’s “Visions Take Flight,” Nordic Affect’s “He(a)r,” and “John Cage: Guitar.”


 

Jonathan Blumhofer is a composer and violist who has been active in the greater Boston area since 2004. His music has received numerous awards and been performed by various ensembles, including the American Composers Orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic, Camerata Chicago, Xanthos Ensemble, and Juventas New Music Group. Since receiving his doctorate from Boston University in 2010, Jon has taught at Clark University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and online for the University of Phoenix, in addition to writing music criticism for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

John. Cage. Guitar ? – Review

 

 

“To this writer’s knowledge, John Cage had never written any music for guitar. So, for Larget-Caplan to imagine this project, and write all of the arrangements, was quite daring. The capacity audience responded most favorably.”

Read the complete review: https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/12/03/john-cage-guitar/

“John Cage Arranged for Guitar” gave us cause to celebrate.

“Larget-Caplan gave honor to the music, blending the guitar with violin, as though this was the intention of Cage himself.”

‘The two-guitar arrangement of this composition is so well considered, it is hard to remember that this is not the original format! Both guitarists focused intently and clearly. An excellent arrangement, and even stronger performance, created universal excitement throughout the room.”

 

NeuGuitars of Italy features Aaron

Neuguitars, a blog dedicated to contemporary guitar music (classical, jazz and experimental) featured Aaron’s most recent work in a December triple treat:

1 – Album Review – John. Cage. Guitar.
“An excellent introduction to those who want to approach [Cage] for the first time. Highly recommended.”

2 – Interview – “I am a product of consistent work, listening, and collaboration. I have forged my path.”

3 – Video Playlist – John Cage & Elliott Carter

Thanks to Andrea Aguzzi for including me on his wonderful site, and spreading the good sounds far and wide.

 

CD REVIEW: John. Cage. Guitar. – MusicWeb International

STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833

Stone who have established a name for their song series including embracing long-needed projects, such as the output of C.W. Orr, here branch out in unaccustomed directions.

A Room is an insistent little minimalistic mood piece. The Three Easy Pieces are amicable diminutives. There is no obstacle to cool enjoyment and any fears about Cage and the avant-garde are misplaced. The Chess Pieces and Dream throw out plenty of variety of atmosphere and, within the confines of a cool shadowed world, exploit the confiding and orating of Aaron Larget-Caplan’s guitar. Six Melodies for violin and guitar are a shade, but often only a shade, more complicated. After six tracks of Cage, the tunefully atmospheric music-smith, one’s mind and ears are ready for the Melodies‘ gloriously creaking match and mismatch carried by violin and guitar. These Melodies, mercurially varied and each radiating the feel of a journey, occasionally carry the suggestion of baroque Iberian courts. In a Landscape is an interplay of shadows, dripping archways and rilled watercourses. The music here is about patiently moving water rather than torrents; it would make a tasty companion to Rodrigo’s Aranjuez concerto. Bacchanale revels in discontinuity including deadened wood-splintering resonances. Somewhere in the mix is the sound of the koto for which Cage’s similarly inclined friend, Henry Cowell, wrote a concerto premiered by Eto Kimei and conducted by Stokowski in 1964.

The notes, which address the individual works, Cage from various perspectives and artist profiles are by Aaron Larget-Caplan.

This disc, quite properly, knows no fear in its blend of delicacy, complexity and amiable simplicity.

Rob Barnett

John CAGE (1912-1992)
A Room (1943) [2:35]
Three Easy Pieces (1933) [4:06]
Chess Pieces (1944) [7:52]
Dream (1948) [7:06]
Six Melodies for violin and guitar (1944) [12:34]
In a Landscape (1948) [8:36]
Bacchanale for two prepared guitars (1940) [10:38]
Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar, prepared guitar)
Sharan Leventhal (violin)
Adam Levin (prepared guitar)
rec. 2017/18, Massachusetts, Boston
STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833 [54:03]

CAGE Guitar – STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833 [RB] Classical Music Reviews: November 2018 – MusicWeb-International

*Read it on MusicWeb International:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2018/Nov/Cage_guitar_5060192780833.htm?fbclid=IwAR3INH1ZqutUo5FRUQDyK3IkNdlS3PGGWWOXBPUlALcubCdZea_FhNcm6rg

John Cage Interview – BNN News

Aaron went to BNN News to speak with news anchor Chris Lovett for an interview on Aaron’s latest release: John. Cage. Guitar. 

Watch as Chris and Aaron discuss the Apostle of provocation.

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

 

John. Cage. Guitar.

COMING in November 2018 on Stone Records!

Guitar virtuoso Aaron Larget-Caplan 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, he chose to make his own arrangements of Cage’s music – 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. This recording features seven early and mid-career compositions, dating from 1933 through 1950 for solo guitar, violin and guitar, and prepared guitar duo. 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. The music is playful, meditative, meandering, introspective, large, quiet, haunting and regal. 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.

Guests Artists: Sharan Leventhal, violin & Adam Levin, prepared guitar
—-

Many fans want their copy ASAP, so Aaron is offering autographed pre-release CDs of John. Cage. Guitar. !!
• Send $25 via venmo, paypal, (info[at]alcguitar.com) or check. Price includes US shipping only.
He will also have a few at upcoming concerts ($20), so go to a concert!
International fans please inquire via email regarding shipping cost.
All copies will be sent beginning Oct. 1st and confirmed via email.

Stay tuned for CD release concert information, reviews and more.

Thank you 2017!

2017 was musically exciting and adventurous. New collaborations with wonderful musicians and composers pushed me in new directions, for which I am grateful. I am extremely grateful for the friends and family that listen, support, and attend concerts. Also, to the many students who work every day to be better musicians and to find the music in daily life. 

May 2018 be all that you wish for: to good strings, exciting music, and lovely people!

Happy New Year!
Aaron

Musical Highlights of 2017

Concerts in Granada & Extremadura, Spain with cellist Kathleen Balfe
(Spain premieres by Thomas L. Read & Tom Flaherty)

Composers Ian Wiese, Tim Pence, Vineet Shende, Francine Trester, Scott Wheeler, & David McMullin

All-New Lullaby Concerts at the ICA Boston and Coaster Theater, Oregon!

New Lullaby World Premieres by Vineet Shende, Ian Wiese & Stanley Hoffman (New Lullaby Premiere #52!)

A World of Guitar kickoff tour in Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee with guitarists Peter Janson and Steve Davison

World premieres of Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach (N. 1, 11) by Vineet Shende

Concerto debut with the North Shore Philharmonic under Robert Lehman

All-John Cage concerts in Mainz, Germany and the Mantova Chamber Music Festival, Italy

Recorded Concert Champêtre for cello & guitar by Thomas L. Read with Rafael Popper-Keizer

Astoria Music Festival debut with bass-baritone Richard Zeller

A World of Guitar west coast tour of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona with Peter Janson.

Lecture and performance for the 2017 MU PHI EPSILON tri-annual Convention in Denver

First John Cage for Guitar Lecture-Performance at the Mannes School of Music

Publication of John Cage’s Piano Music Arranged for Guitar by Edition Peters!!

Recording begun of John Cage for Guitar at the Kitchen with engineer Steve Hunt and guests Adam Levin (guitar) and Sharan Leventhal (violin)