Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Drifting in This Is Classical Guitar

The wonderful website ‘This is Classical Guitar’ run by Bradford Werner gave a wonderful shout out to ‘Volume 3 of the New Lullaby Project Drifting’ in a recent blog post. Check it out and take a listen to the free embed music. Let me know what you think!

Huge thanks to Bradford for his continued support of contemporary music and passing his great love of the guitar to people!

Drifting by Aaron Larget-Caplan

 

New Review – DRIFTING in The Whole Note

The Canadian classical music publication ‘The Whole Note’ has reviewed ‘Drifting’ in their latest edition!

“Another captivating addition to a significant series that continues to add miniature gems to the contemporary guitar repertoire.” – Terry Robbins

Volume 27 Issue 1 – September / October 2021https://kiosk.thewholenote.com/34

 

Album Review: Nights Transfigured, American Record Guide

REVIEW – Nights Transfigured

– May 2021
The Whole Note is a Canadien publication based in Toronto, Canada.
https://www.thewholenote.com/index.php/booksrecords2/booksrecords2-2

Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan follows up his 2010 CD New Lullaby – 14 Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep with Nights Transfigured – Vol.2 of the New Lullaby Project, a second collection of short pieces by 14 different composers written for Larget-Caplan between 2009 and 2020 (Stone Records 5060192781106 stonerecords.co.uk).

Don’t be misled by the title. Although there’s obviously a general sense of calm throughout the CD, this isn’t a disc of music for children but a fascinating collection of exquisite contemporary miniatures for classical guitar that explore a wide range of musical languages and often employ extended guitar technique, all of it beautifully played and recorded.

LISTEN AND PURCHASE  THE ALBUM HERE: https://alcguitar.bandcamp.com/album/nights-transfigured

Album Review – Nights Transfigured

Nights Transfigured by Aaron Larget-Caplan

“Nights Transfigured, Volume 2 of the New Lullaby Project by Aaron Larget-Caplan is an album filled with creativity, virtuosity, and beauty. It’s more than an album release, it’s a creative project that encourages interaction between the performing artist and composers but also between the compositions themselves. Each composer approaches the lullaby in a new creative way allowing the listener to engage with the album as a conceptual whole. From colourful sensitive phrasing to virtuosic execution of soothing new music textures, Aaron Larget-Caplan’s playing is exquisite. Highly recommended.”

The link includes a few words from me about the album.

Read the complete review at: https://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/nights-transfigured-aaron-larget-caplan/

 

New ALBUM – Nights Transfigured

NIGHTS TRANSFIGURED, Vol. 2 of the New Lullaby Project

Aaron Larget-Caplan is more than one of the leading classical guitarists of his generation; he is an enthusiastic ambassador for his art. Following his groundbreaking 2015 release ‘John. Cage. Guitar.’ (Stone Records), Aaron returns to his New Lullaby Project with the première recording of a second volume of contemporary lullabies in Nights Transfigured. Compositions written between 2008 and 2020 by 14 composers from Australia, Austria, France and the United States, these new lullabies give a compelling argument for the listener to examine their relationships to contemporary music, the lullaby, and how to bridge the chasm between audience and living composers.

When Covid-19 canceled touring and public performances, Aaron constructed his own studio, L’atelier des Artists Boston, and recorded the album in September 2020. It is an exhilarating representation of 21st century composition for guitar and the album demonstrates how extraordinarily welcoming Aaron is in his expansive ideas about what can be embraced in the musical idea of lullaby.

Nights Transfigured features new lullabies inspired by composers’ children, song and the intimacy of singing to another, the end of night, poetry, longing for sleep, our troubled times, gentle motion, and of course, the melding of stars and moonbeams. They are lullabies of passage and being, longing and loneliness, marking time, memory, and yet these sonorous landscapes are also inhabited by warmth, hope, and peace. On a theoretical level there is a variety of musical languages: tonal, 12-tone, contrapuntal, North Indian, minimalist, and quasi-improvisational, with many using a mix of them while requiring many extended instrumental techniques. The American Composers Alliance will publish a multi-volume anthology of new lullaby project scores beginning in 2021.

Whether a music lover, amateur or professional musician, child, or someone who wishes to doze off peacefully, there is a piece for you. A lullaby’s creation is tied to something never quite forgotten or remembered. Lullabies transfigure our nights, so, then, they must transfigure our dreams.


CRITICAL ACCLAIM

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

“This is not some godawful Classics-for-Baby CD” ~Fanfare (New Lullaby, 2010)

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

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

“Aaron Larget-Caplan is fast becoming perhaps the greatest guitar advocate for the music of John Cage.” ~ Classical Guitar Magazine

 

BIOGRAPHY

Aaron Larget-Caplan is an international recording and touring guitarist, who has premiered over 80 compositions. He is the founder and director of ¡Con Fuego! – a Spanish classical music & flamenco dance trio, and the commissioning-performance endeavor the ‘New Lullaby Project’, which has premiered over 60 compositions from nine countries.

Aaron has five critically acclaimed solo recordings: Tracing a wheel on water (2006), New Lullaby (2010), The Legend of Hagoromo (Stone Records, 2015), John. Cage. Guitar. (Stone Records, 2018), Nights Transfigured (2020), and he is featured as a soloist and in chamber music on four other albums for Albany, Navona, and American Composers Alliance record labels. Aaron’s groundbreaking arrangements of John Cage for guitar solo, and violin-guitar, are exclusively published by Edition Peters and are the first officially sanctioned arrangements of Cage for guitar. Forthcoming publications include solo and chamber music of Cage, Alan Hovhaness, and Reynaldo Hahn. A partnership with the American Composers Alliance will see a multi-volume anthology of New Lullaby Project scores beginning in 2021. Aaron also utilizes his own arrangements of Bach, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and numerous Spanish composers.

Aaron is on faculty at the University of Massachusetts Boston and formerly at the Boston Conservatory. He presents lectures for universities, the Guitar Foundation of America, 21st Century Guitar Conference, and Mu Phi Epsilon. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory, and his principal teacher was Dmitry Goryachev. He recently received a medal from the Société Académique Arts-Sciences-Lettres of Paris, France for his trailblazing work in music, and was Musician in Residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Raised in Colorado, he resides in Boston where he enjoys espresso with his wife, healer, and muse, Catherine. Aaron performs on an Olivier Fanton d’Andon guitar and Hannabach strings exclusively.

https://www.NewLullabyProject.com

END

 

Artists: Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar)

Disc: Nights Transfigured, Volume 2 of the New Lullaby Project

Label: Six String Sound

Catalogue number/barcode: 195269049775

Release date: 06 November 2020

Track Listing:

1.      Shatzer: Lullaby for D—

2.      Castilla-Ávilla: Perseiden

3.      Read: The Moon Through The Window Shines Down

4.      Julien: After Many Days Without Rain

5.      Shende: Reva’s Lullaby

6.      Fletcher: Lullaby in Three Voices

7.      Éon: Berceuse

 

8.     McMullin: Sleeping Light, Spinning World

9.     Trester: Lullaby for Our Time

10.   Dalton: A World of Your Own

11.   Spaneas: A Child Sings at Thanksgiving

12.   Boyd: Esperanza

13.   Schuttenhelm: Wiegenlied

14.   Oliver: The Pillow That You Dream On

 

*all première recordings

 

CONCERT REVIEW

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

a virtual journal and essential blog of the classical music scene in greater Boston

ALC and Groupmuse Provide a Brief Respite

by Ian Wiese • APRIL 8, 2020

Aaron Larget-Caplan (file photo)

What else can be said about the current “New Normal?” Social distancing forced the cancellation of nearly all of our concerts, which means that musicians are not performing for audiences in the same room if they’re performing whatsoever. Music has entered uncharted territories. That has not stopped the ever bar-raising concert host Groupmuse, however, which has transferred its concerts over to Zoom for its digital audience. One took place on April 3rd over cyberspace:  guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan played for nearly 70 people across the world through a webcam and sophisticated microphones while the audience sat on couches or in their kitchens at home drinking wine and enjoying one little respite.

Larget-Caplan started the unusual evening a couple of his own transcriptions from J.S. Bach Well-Tempered Klavier. The ubiquitous C major prelude showed his fluidity and deep sense of forward momentum that rivaled many keyboardists. He let the music ebb and flow with a firm hand but a sensible gentle guidance. The second was the B-flat major prelude transposed down to A for the sake of the guitar. Rather than showing his inner musicality, this prelude showed the artist’s expressive virtuosity, making the rather unidiomatic prelude seem easy on the guitar. This reviewer wishes he could have LC’s confidence.

Taking a second to acknowledge the reality of our current world, LC dedicated Augustin Barrios’s Una Limosna por Amor De Dios (roughly translated to “A Donation for the Love of God”) to the victims of COVID-19 prior and coming. Centered on rasgueado playing with a line over it, it gave him a chance to explore the colors of the instrument with great ease. The melody effortlessly sang out over the accompanying rasgueado strumming. This number seemed to be an audience favorite from what this reviewer could see from the other webcameras; the audience members popped up infrequently throughout the stream, as the Groupmuse host muted everyone except LC. During the applause, the other viewers came on the main screen; this reviewer did note that the audience was visible on the all users bar at the top of the screen, so some of the reactions could be seen in real time. It felt like looking out into the audience to gauge reactions but where one could see all the faces at once. Suffice to say, this was a slightly unusual sensation, but not one to scoff at.

LC represented his commissioning series “The New Lullaby Project” with Stephanie Ann Boyd’s Esperanza. Boyd, who was in the digital audience, said that she wrote the piece as though she were writing a lullaby for her little sister (who was also in digital attendance) titled with what she called the most beautiful girls’ name while exploring magical and dreamy sounds from the guitar. Laced with harmonics and initially minimal chord flourishes, LC crooned the soft melody as though he himself were singing it. Gradually, the piece built up intensity until a very strong climax that lead back down into the quiet realm where it all started from with the only difference being a return to harmonics rather than merely restating the melody. It was a beautiful lullaby, though the climax might have awoken the sleeping baby girl.

This reflective atmosphere came abruptly crashing down with España Cañi by Pascual Marquina, arranged by LC for guitar. Originally an orchestral work heralding in the bullfighter to the ring, this transcription had all the hallmarks of a Spanish piece of music that need not be stated, for imagination is enough. LC imbued it with the proper amount of aggression and machismo needed to keep it interesting and the sound bitingly sharp. This piece also let the audience really see LC’s precision and accuracy with his right-hand technique, which occasionally moved so fast it blurred in the otherwise clear webcam feed.

Following in his own transcribing footsteps, LC treated the audience to one of his John Cage transcriptions for guitar, In a Landscape. This choice was a rather bold one, as the guitar both can and cannot have the same resonance as a piano or harp, as Cage originally wrote for. Through some creative manipulation of placing lines on different strings and exceptional left-hand technique, LC pulled it off quite well. The resonance needed to sell the landscape sounded most of the time; there were occasions the mechanics of the instrument did not allow this to happen, which was disappointing but understandable. Deceptively simple and harmonically dream-like, LC really pulled this one through and made what seemed to be a difficult choice for guitar extremely convincing.

This reviewer, who has been to several of LC’s concerts, was not surprised that the traditional ending of The Legend of Hagoromo by Keigo Fujii rounded out the program once again. As one of only a handful of guitarists to be able to play such a complex piece, it is understandable why he has adopted that tradition. Basing the work  on a 13-century Japanese legend of the same name, Fujii crafts a tour-de-force solo-concerto for guitar while maintaining a folk-like wonder to the sound, in no small part due to the resonance of the strange DADGAD string tuning and use of nearly every possible standard technique for guitar. LC burned through this one like thermite through steel, meeting Fujii’s challenge with unprecedented skill. Quick changes in playing style or technique shifted like greased levers with clear musical intent and integrity. Whatever the guitar can do, LC can do 50 times better than other guitarists. When the piece got very quiet, Zoom did seem to filter out some of the music, making an occasionally strange gap of watching him play while hearing nothing, but what can be done with technology in that case?

If this New Normal has led to this reviewer hearing such a fantastic guitarist from the comfort of my bedroom on a computer with (sub-par) speakers, for the time, I will take it. I would listen to LC live or on livestream any day.

As for Groupmuse and their new attempt to keep the music going, this first Boston-based concert was definitely an admirable effort. The platform, Zoom, was never built for concerts, so the fact that this one worked as well as it did is a testament to the software and its functionality. Perhaps they can fine tune this system for our uses, but to them, concerts are completely ancillary functions to the business meeting. Groupmuse kept a charge of $3 to attend the livestream, which is completely understandable. So long as the organization and the performer work together and utilize moderately professional equipment as a base line (LC used some studio-quality gear for this concert, and rightfully so), the fee is negligible. Perhaps to warm people up to this new idea they should offer one concert booking free to their base, but that would only be to drum up support if needed. I think it definitely worked, and so long as this New Normal persists, this style of concert-going experience serves to be a good band-aid to the situation.

Ian Wiese is a doctoral student composer at New England Conservatory studying under John Heiss.

American Record Guide: REVIEW John. Cage. Guitar

CAGE: A Room; 3 Easy Pieces; Dream; 6 Melodies; In a Landscape+

Aaron Larget-Caplan, Adam Levin, g; Sharan Leventhal, v

Stone 8083—54 minutes

Aaron Larget-Caplin and Sharan Leventhal both live in my neck of the woods, the north- east—possibly Mr Levin too. Noting that Cage never wrote for the guitar, Larget-Caplin has resolved to make some suitable arrangements of his piano music, which have been issued by Cage’s publisher, CF Peters. They are very effective, though from time to time I miss the resonance of the piano. The best performances are of the 6 Melodies; Larget-Caplan and Leventhal seem to bring a degree of expression and nuance to the music missing in the earlier solo pieces here. But in the marvelous arrangement of Bacchanale, for two prepared guitars, the raucous sounds of the instruments work very well for this exuberant work. The recording sounds a little harsh to me—as if the microphones are too close to the instruments—but that might appeal to listeners who like their CDs to have a little crossover appeal.

HASKINS
p. 83, April 2019

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.