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 

 

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