Fanfare Magazine, New Lullaby CD Review #1 – Barnaby Rayfield

The first of two reviews from Fanfare – The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors.

New Lullaby

New Lullaby, ad design Alex Fedorov

My comments follow the review.

Fanfare Magazine – FEATURE REVIEW by Barnaby Rayfield

NEW LULLABY Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) SIX STRING SOUND 888-01 (52:46)


I immediately took to Aaron Larget-Caplan, the moment I read his artist’s notes here: “I do not have kids,” he announces before explaining the harrowing experiences that followed the genesis of this lullaby project, four years ago. After the initial proposal to various composers for guitar lullabies, his house burned down, taking the new music with it. Then his wife was seriously injured two months later. Through these traumas, and with no fixed abode, Larget-Caplan has not been sleeping too well, and still the new lullabies kept coming in. His note of irony in the midst of genuine tragedy creates, in my mind, a very sincere musician. More importantly, he is a fine player, a classical guitarist with a keen ear for new music. He appears to have given his composers free rein with the lullaby form. This is not some, godawful, Classics-for-Baby CD, but 13 composers’ attempts at the lullaby form, not just in its healing wish to send someone to sleep, but also in its other, more folktale guise of the unsettling nighttime world.

Personal experience seems to be the overriding theme of these works. The wistful, sad No Time came from the composer [Jonathan Feist] waiting for his premature baby to be big enough to leave the hospital. Others take their inspiration from literature, like Wheeler’s Nachtlied, or McDonald’s You Are Alone To Sleep, while others can create little gems from the mundane, like the fast, drip-dripping of Leaky Roof [Feist]. Certainly, the first 30 minutes of this disc work as relaxation. If this sounds a little too soporific for some, there are darker works to pepper this sweet-toned album, like the urgent episode in the otherwise gentle Descent to a Dream [Small], the night excursions of a restless mind. Vayo’s Berceuse is actually quite frightening with its humming and whistling vocal line, lending the pleasant tune an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere. My one slight reservation is the order of the tracks, with these edgier works coming toward the end after an undemanding first half.

Many will think Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times bizarrely suffers from tape hiss, when in fact Schwartz is wittily trying to depict an urban lullaby, in a dirty apartment complete with off-air television snow. That could have been better conveyed, but otherwise the recital has been beautifully recorded, catching every expressive detail of Larget-Caplan’s playing. He is not afraid to change his sound for the right purpose; sometimes he achieves a harp-like sweetness, and at others he can be acerbic and unsettling. I am not usually a huge fan of solo guitar recitals, especially when it could have been so monotonously relaxing, but something new has been attempted here, and it makes me hope that Larget-Caplan looks both back and forward in time to gather up future volumes and create a Lullaby Almanac. Choose your tracks wisely, if want your child to sleep; for the rest of us, though, these make diverting nocturnal wanderings. — Barnaby Rayfield

Print Edition will be available in January 2011

This article originally appeared in Issue 34:3 (Jan/Feb 2011) of Fanfare Magazine. • •

Needless to say, I am very pleased!  What do you think?  This is a review for music collectors, but does it connect to more than just the few?

I find his opening comments on my program notes, which he actually read (not always the case), spot-on.  And I am in complete accordance with his distaste for ‘music to relax to’.  I nearly puked when my hero, Julian Bream, came out with such a CD.  I know it is money but how ugly!  Sorry.
I wonder if adding a click (à la television) at the beginning of Song Softly Song, in Trying Times or a couple of snores in the middle would help Mr. Rayfield feel the television gone-to-snow that Eric created?  I would actually like more snow on the recording – a blizzard!

By the way, I added all of the italics and bold type.


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One Response to “Fanfare Magazine, New Lullaby CD Review #1 – Barnaby Rayfield”

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