Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Recent Fan Letters!

On occasion I get notes from fans following concerts or after they hear a CD or a podcast. Happily, this is occurring more and more!

Here are a few recents:

1 – “A note to say how much I enjoyed your concert. It is one thing to see an accomplished musician play his instrument; it’s quite another to see and listen to a brilliant musician who is at one with the guitar. Truly, as I sat there, I felt the connection between you and your guitar – they were one. This doesn’t happen often, so I’m glad I saw you perform. At times, the guitar sounded as a harpsichord; at others, like a violin. That is a testament to the musician.” – Jan., Oregon

2 – “Your CD. Wow! You have wonderfully braved the criticism of the fuddy-duddy classical ineffectuals. The choices and playing have opened your music to a much wider audience. I’m sharing the experience with friends and family, we are all on board. Another thing I really appreciate about the CD, you are willing to follow the lead of the last half of the 20th century and move away from strictly tonal music. Please keep it up.” – David C., Oregon

3 – Aaron, I recently listened to your interview with Bret Williams and videos at Savage Classical — both were excellent!! Thank you for continuing to push the guitar forward!! – Ben R., NY

4 – Wonderful concert yesterday! I was honored to be in the audience. – Mary J., Oregon

5 – “It looks like Aaron is ready to make a big splash In New York. It’s funny, I played his [Legend ofHagoromo CD yesterday, and the thought occurred to me that, if you hadn’t seen him perform it, you might think it was some trick done during the recording.” – Carolyn E., – Oregon

 

“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

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!

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

New Lullaby Project Celebrates 7 Years!

New Lullaby

In December 2006, I received the first commission for the New Lullaby Project from David Leisner titled, Disturbed, a Lullaby.  At first I thought that the project would not last with such an ominously titled first New Lullaby, but I was wrong.  The New Lullaby Project (www.NewLullabyProject.com) has proven that it will live through all parts of life’s successes and failures, including a house fire, injuries, and multiple moves.  Many of the early lullabies written during the early period of upheaval have a darker tone as if the composers wished to commemorate the personal trials and tribulations I was going through.  Needless to say, the obligation I felt to the many composers who entrusted their dots on the page with me kept me going through many a sleepless night.   

A Youtube channel for the New Lullaby Project features an interview and 18 videos of New Lullabies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B21nluWjFME&list=PL7E006D64BC311C6C

I had originally planned for the New Lullaby Project to run its course in a year or so with  New Lullaby, a CD featuring 14 New Lullabies by 13 composers, recorded in 2009 at Futura Productions and released in 2010, but as I kept receiving New Lullabies from composers I kept premiering new works.  New Lullaby garnered very positive reviews in Classical Guitar Magazine (UK), Audiophile, Fanfare and more.  One of my favorite quotes:  “This is not some godawful Classics-for-Baby CD, something new has been attempted here…” (Fanfare)

And then this from author and friend Glenn Kurtz:

New Lullaby CD 2010

New Lullaby CD 2010

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 Musician’s Return To Music’

I knew a few of the composers featured on the CD prior to the project, but The New Lullaby CD also attracted the attention of many more new composers.  Since 2010 I have premiered New Lullabies by 23 composers, with some living as far as Australia and Poland.  I have also received another 20 or so by composers throughout the world…I know I have much practice and many performances to give!

Studying, practicing and performing so many new works by different composers challenged me as a musician and person in ways that I did not expect.  Each composer writes in their own voice with their own idiosyncrasies and understanding of the guitar, musical notation and symbols, and I have had to learn to decipher their dots and line and search for their voice in the music.  I could just play the notes of each piece and call it done, but I believe that happens all too often and is one reason new music gets a bad rap by musicians and audiences.  I could also make the works fit my personality, but I believe the performer should not overshadow the composer’s voice, which also means the composer must have a voice.  Luckily, all of the composers who have submitted New Lullabies are alive and well, and willing to discuss and collaborate on their compositions.  Sometimes this means re-voicing chords, adding or subtracting a section on occasion a whole new lullaby.  Occasionally these discussions are heated with disagreements about notation or intent, but all of them are extremely fruitful for both parties, at least I hope!

Some of the New Lullabies require unusual scordatura (alternate) tunings of one or more strings on the guitar, which has made my ears and tuning flexibility improve greatly.  Most notably Shhh by Ryan Vigil (6-E-flat, 4-D-flat, 2-B-flat), Cradle Song by Kevin Siegfried (6-C#), Whispering into the night by Kathryn Salfelder (4- D#), Ed è Subito Sera by Ken Ueno (1- D ¼ sharp), and Sui-huo by Kota Nakamura (5-G).  On two occasions the performer is asked to hum, whistle or sing: Berceuse by David Vayo (all three) and Cancion de cuna by Hayg Boyadjian.  Whistling and playing is an endeavor the conservatory did not prepare me for!

My intent with the New Lullaby Project is to expand the repertoire of the guitar, create beautiful music that demonstrate the guitar’s versatility and natural gifts, that are also approachable by the general public.  On a professional level I also wish entice composers who are intimidated by the guitar and its idiosyncrasies, it’s not a piano, to write for it, for Who is Afraid of a Lullaby?   The first couple of composers to submit New Lullabies were actually guitarists who are composers, but only six of the 36 composers whose submissions have been premiered to date have a background in guitar.  I find this to be one of the greatest success of the New Lullaby Project.

I have received New Lullabies inspired by Adam & Eve’s first night of sleep (Lynn Job), a leaky roof (Jonathan Feist), a television gone to snow (Eric Schwartz), a Cheyenne lullaby (McDonald), a newborn child (Michael Veloso), death (Jacob Mashak) and even exhaustion (Patricia Julien).  There are 12-tone lullabies by Mashak and Julian, and contrapuntal lullabies by Leisner and Alan Fletcher.

One of the criticisms, besides lullabies are for kids, which is just not true, is that some of the lullabies are not what many consider music to fall asleep with.  I let each composer be inspired by the project in their own way.  Some saw the composition as representing the process of sleeping, others the transition from one world to another, others the desire for sleep and some a piece that one should not hear the end of as the listener is sleeping, and even one wondered if we, as society, deserved such a simple lullaby as Brahms wrote as are world has changed.  Also, not each dance composed in the 20th-21st century is meant to be danced to either:

In a New Hampshire high school

In a New Hampshire high school

One of the joys of the New Lullaby Project is that it has taken me into colleges and universities across the country to work with young composers on writing for guitar.  Residencies at University of Nevada Las Vegas, CSU Bakersfield, Wheaton College, The Boston Conservatory, Tufts University and Boston University have garnered over a dozen New Lullabies by composers who see the guitar as an important instrument in their music education and future professional careers.  As many can attest, this has not always been the case in music circles.  I do not take credit for this change, but I am happy to be a part of it.

New Lullaby Concert, 12/10/11, Francine Trester, Hayg Boyadjian, John McDonald, Martin Schreiner, Demetrius Spaneas, Patricia Julien and Jacob Mashak

New Lullaby Concert, 12/10/11, Francine Trester, Hayg Boyadjian, John McDonald, Martin Schreiner, Demetrius Spaneas, Patricia Julien and Jacob Mashak

One of my fondest memories of the last few years of concertizing and including New Lullabies in my programs is my December 2011 New Lullaby Project Premiere Concert in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the complete program featured New Lullaby submissions, and five of the 12 pieces performed were world premieres.  With many of the composers in attendance, it was a fascinating night of music.

In Littleton, New Hampshire in April 2011, the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire sponsored an early evening family program featuring my New Lullabies.  I arranged the program so that each half had 4 New Lullabies followed by a dance, where many of the participants actually got up and danced.  Over 50 Parents and kids of All-Ages (newborn through H.S.) came and packed the hall, with many of the young-ins in their pajamas.  With kids sitting just a bit away from my feet, I had a rapt audience like I had never experienced.  Milk and cookies were served and it was good.New Lullabies in Littleton, NH

The future of the New Lullaby Project is exciting!

In New Lullaby Project premiere queue:

  • Scott Scharf, Chicago
  • Colin Homiski, London/Boston
  • Frank Warren, Boston
  • Marc Giacone, Monaco
  • Anton Tanonov, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Pamela Marshal, Boston
  • Ricardo Odriozola, Norway/Spain
  • Stanley Hoffman, Boston

A few of the New Lullabies are now published and available to the public.  Three of them by Jonathan Feist and Francine Trester were recently selected as required works by the MA-ASTA youth and senior division 2014 competition!

Plans are in the works for another CD of New Lullabies.

To ALL of those who have supported and participated in the New Lullaby Project, I thank you for making the last 7 years extremely satisfying and beautiful.  And to the MANY friends made through the sharing of music, I am eternally grateful for your trust and friendship.  I look forward to sharing more music with audiences, students and colleagues over the next 7 years.  Stay tuned!

Jonathan Feist & Aaron on Jonathan's pond

Jonathan Feist & Aaron on Jonathan’s pond

*A complete list of composers, reviews, videos and articles can be found at www.NewLullabyProject.com

Find the New Lullaby CD at:

iTunes

Amazon

CDBaby

Buy an autographed copy directly from the Artist:  wwww.AaronLC.com/store

 

Reflection on the Reading-Recital w/ Glenn Kurtz

A beautifully written reflection in the Upham’s Corner News about my January Greater Boston House Concerts event.  I paired with author and former musician Glenn Kurtz for an evening of music played by me and readings by Kurtz.

A wonderful late night of music making.

http://www.uphamscornernews.com/gbhc-interwoven-words-and-music-captivating-the-listeners.html

Glenn & Aaron