REVIEW: Nights Transfigured in Fanfare Magazine

NIGHTS TRANSFIGURED: Vol. 2 Of The New Lullaby Project • Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) 
STONE RECORDS (59:55)

SHATZER Lullaby for D—-. CASTILLA-ÁVILA PerseidenTHOMAS L. READ The moon through the window shines down. JULIEN After Many Days Without Rain. SHENDE Reva’s Lullaby. ALAN FLETCHER Lullaby in Three Voices. ÉON Berceuse. DAVID MCMULLIN Sleeping Light, Spinning World. TRESTER Lullaby for Our Time. JAMES DALTON A world of your own. SPANEAS A Child Sings at Thanksgiving. STEPHANIE ANN BOYD Esperanza. SCHUTTENHELM Wiegenlied. BARNABY OLIVER The Pillow That You Dream On

Nights Transfigured is Volume 2 of the New Lullaby Project, the creation of Aaron Larget-Caplan, a guitarist currently on faculty at University of Massachusetts Boston (previously he taught at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee School of Music). Larget-Caplan inaugurated the New Lullaby Project in 2007. Volume 1 in this series, New Lullaby, was released in 2010. During the course of the New Lullaby Project, Larget-Caplan has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous works. As he describes in the liner notes for Volume 3 (Drifting, also reviewed in this issue of Fanfare): “The requirements were simple: a beautiful 3-5 minute guitar solo in the genre of a lullaby … a malleable definition. So simple and yet after 65 premieres by over 55 composers in nine countries, no two lullabies sound the same.” Larget-Capan characterizes the works featured in Volume 1 as “divided into warm and safe versus dark and foreboding.” With regard to Volume 2: “in Nights Transfigured each possesses soupçons of melancholy, shadows of warmth, and inward contemplations, reflecting the times when they were created, between 2011-2020.” As one might anticipate, the 14 works on Volume 2, written by as many contemporary composers, explore a wide range of styles and expression. That said, they are all accessible, and gratifyingly embody the function and spirit of the lullaby. For example, After Many Days Without Rain, by composer and jazz flutist Patricia Julien, explores 12-tone writing, cast in a 5/4 meter. I agree with Julien’s comment (each composer supplies his or her own program notes) that “neither feature is particularly evident when hearing this work,” in the sense of posing undue challenges for the listener. Larget-Caplan performs all of the lullabies with the utmost affection, tonal beauty, and sensitive phrasing. The recorded sound is marvelous; rich and detailed, with a (not too) close perspective of the performer. In addition to the composers’ program notes, the booklet includes information on each work’s premiere and score availability. There are also bios of the composers. Nights Transfigured is a truly beguiling hour of music making, one that (perhaps despite the traditional goal of a lullaby) held me in rapt attention throughout. I am always deeply gratified by recordings that document the commissioning and marvelous performances of first-rate works. Nights Transfigured is such a release. Recommended. Ken Meltzer

This article originally appeared in Issue 45:2 (Nov/Dec 2021) of Fanfare Magazine.

Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply