Archive for the ‘Contemporary Music’ Category

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.

California Solo Tour 2020

Starting March 26, 2020 I will be performing, lecturing, and giving classes in California, traveling a 1000+ miles over 10-days. I will be visiting universities & colleges, homes, museums, churches, guitar and new music venues. This is the third time I have done such a solo tour and though it is a lot of work to organize and fulfill, it is an exhilarating adventure!

March-April 2020 Tour Map

California Tour:
March 26 – Class, UCLA, host Peter Yates
March 28 – Encinitas Concert at the home of Robert & Kathy Bender
March 29 – Concert Pomona College, Claremont
March 30 – Pomona classes
April 2 – RADIO – The Global Village, John Schneider KPFK
April 2 – Class at CSU Bakersfield, host Jim Scully
April 3 – Concert at the Museum of Northern California Art, Chico
April 4 – Concert for the South Bay Guitar Society, San Jose
April 5 – Masterclass for SBGS, San Jose
April 5 – Concert at the Presidio Interfaith Chapel, San Francisco
April 6 – Concert at the Center For New Music, San Francisco

The programs vary depending on the venue and concert length, but include:

• Pictures from an Exhibition by Mussorgsky
• Preludes from the WTC by Bach
Carnatic Preludes by Vineet Shende
In a Landscape by John Cage
Legend of Hagoromo by Keigo Fujii
Ed è Subito Sera by Ken Ueno
• Steps & Leaps by Tom Flaherty (West coast premiere)
• Being & Becoming by Lou Bunk (West coast premiere)
Bacchanale by Cage, 2 prepared guitars (West coast premiere)
• Some Albéniz too

*For Bacchanale I’ll be joined by Peter Yates in Southern California (3/29 & 4/2) and Michael Goldberg in San Francisco (4/6).

Now Musique: Who is Michael Hall?

For the second year of concerts for Now Musique, I’m very excited to be returning to the concert stage with Chicago-base violist and passionate new music advocate Michael Hall. We will be performing in Dorchester, New York City, Boston, and Providence from March 19-24. We will also be performing on MIT Radio’s WMBR ‘Not Brahms and Liszt’ with Alley Stoughton on Monday March 16 and an interview for ‘Conducting Conversations’ with Mike Maino on WCRI will air March 22. The Boston and Providence programs are produced by my Now Musique. A complete tour schedule is below.

Q: Who is Michael Hall?
A: Simply, Michael Hall is a fantastic violist who lives in Chicago.
• More complex, Michael Hall is fantastic violist who lives in Chicago, loves contemporary, taught at Vandercook College, has a DMA from UNC Greensboro.
• Complex Truth, Michael Hall is fantastic violist who lives in Chicago, loves contemporary, taught at Vandercook College, has a DMA from UNC Greensboro, premiered over 50 works written for him, editor of contemporary music for viola, co-founded the Bandung Philharmonic – the first professional orchestra of Indonesia. A dad and husband.

Q: How do I find out more about him?
A: http://michaelhallviola.com/

Q: How did you two meet?
A: We met over new music on Twitter and then in person at the Boston “New Music Gathering”

Q: What are you performing?
A: ‘America’ – Contemporary duos & solos for viola and guitar by living composers. Each concert will have a slight variation due to program length.

PROGRAM (not order)
• Francine Trester: Borrowed Blue (2019)
• John Anthony Lennon: Infinite Arrow (2004)
• Darleen Mitchell: Images
• Thomas L. Read: Traveller’s Frolic* (2019)
• Antonio Celso Rebeiro: Melancholy Dressed in Yellow (2019)
• David Liptak: Freight – Guitar Solo
• Tom Flaherty: Steps and Leaps* – Guitar + Electronics (2019)
• Alice Shields: Sri Mata – Viola solo
• David Froom: Shades of Red – Viola solo
• Matthew Davidson: Magyar Rondo – Viola solo

Q: How Can I hear you two?
A: Youtube! Music & Interview

Vintage Portrait Mov. 3 by Antonio Celso Ribeiro (world premiere)
Borrowed Blue by Francine Trester (world premiere)
2019 Interview with Boston News Network

TOUR INFORMATION
Monday 3/16 – MIT Radio WMBR – 4pm, Live performance & interview
Thursday 3/19 – Dorchester, MA – 5:30-6:30, Upham’s Corner Library
Saturday 3/21 – New York City – 7:30pm, National Opera Center
Sunday 3/22 – WCRI – Conducting Conversation with Mike Maino
Sunday 3/22 – Boston, MA – 7:30pm, Arlington Street Church
Monday 3/23 – Providence, RI, – 6:30, The Music Mansion
Tuesday 3/24 – Boston, MA – 12:30-1pm, King’s Chapel
Complete information at Aaron’s Calendar

Aaron’s Fall Concert Schedule

See Aaron’s Fall Newsletter!

http://createsend.com/t/y-B9ACD42E1FA6369B

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.

NeuGuitars of Italy features Aaron

Neuguitars, a blog dedicated to contemporary guitar music (classical, jazz and experimental) featured Aaron’s most recent work in a December triple treat:

1 – Album Review – John. Cage. Guitar.
“An excellent introduction to those who want to approach [Cage] for the first time. Highly recommended.”

2 – Interview – “I am a product of consistent work, listening, and collaboration. I have forged my path.”

3 – Video Playlist – John Cage & Elliott Carter

Thanks to Andrea Aguzzi for including me on his wonderful site, and spreading the good sounds far and wide.

 

Prepared Guitars – Bacchanale by Cage

Bacchanale by John Cage

Prepared Piano intoPrepared Guitars

Bacchanale was Cage’s first piece for prepared piano. Finding that the stage was too small for both  dancer/choreographer Syvilla Fort and the needed battery of percussion, so Cage decided to fix weather stripping, bolts, screws and nuts into the strings of the piano to create a percussion ensemble, Fort, a colleague of Cage’s at Cornish College, asked for a composition of African inspiration. Only twelve notes are used in the piece, all of which are prepared. In the piano version preparation is predominantly weatherstripping and the performer is instructed to “determine position and size of mutes by experiment.

*click below to listen to Aaron & Adam Levin perform Bacchanale – track 14

Translating the preparations to the guitar posed a couple of challenges and I asked myself a few questions:

Q: Why prepare the strings at all, since the guitar will already not sound like a prepared piano?

A: I actually played the work completely as written with no preparations for a while. It fits on two guitars (guitar 1 = right hand, guitar 2 = left hand), without much adjustment, so I knew it was possible.

I was also not a big fan of prepared guitar with the works I had heard and seen in the past. At times I felt such works were more of an excuse to the performer to be seen as dramatic and serious. But, as I listened to more and more recordings of prepared piano and experienced the vast changes of timbre and percussion vs. piano sounds, I was inspired to experiment on my own.

Q: Isn’t guitar already considered a percussion instrument. 

A: Yes and no. A flamenco guitar has a much lower action (strings closer to the fret board), which allows the strings to hit the frets when played apoyando (reststroke) or rasgueado (flamenco strumming). In such case, yes, it is both melody and percussion.

A classical guitar has a higher action (strings further from the fret board), which allows for more timbre choice, louder individual notes, more resonance, and depending on the player, cleaner tone.

These are broad generalizations, and do not say one is better than the other. Each guitar represents a very different style of music and artists are aware of it.

As a side note, a recording engineer I work with originally didn’t want to record guitar, because to him it just sounds like a box with strings. I convinced him otherwise.

Q: What are some of the challenges of preparing the guitar? 

A: 1 – Gravity. If I clip something on to the strings and hold the guitar in the normal playing position those clips can easily flip towards the ground touching ‘higher’ strings or the wood of the soundboard. I also had to find a way to hold the substitute for weatherstripping in the strings without letting it fall out when being played.

2 – Only one string. Each note of the piano has three strings, so one can add a screw between two strings and not touch any other pitch.

3 – No slurs. Yes, if you do a left hand slur (hammer or pull off) the preparations don’t really sound.

4 – Nylon strings and no cast iron frame. Since the strings use much less tension weatherstripping will completely mute the string. I had to find a substitute that gave a percussive sound and a bit of pitch.

Q: When and where can I get the score?

A: Edition Peters will be publishing my arrangement in early 2019.

Piano Preparations

Guitar Preparations

Purchase the album on Amazon: http://a.co/d/1u6L6kk

PRESS RELEASE – John. Cage. Guitar.

JOHN. CAGE. GUITAR.

CD RELEASE DATE: 2 November 2018
Stone Records Limited

AARON LARGET-CAPLAN, GUITAR
SHARAN LEVENTHAL, VIOLIN
ADAM LEVIN, GUITAR

International guitar virtuoso Aaron Larget-Caplan returns with a second ground-breaking recording for Stone Records. The first classical guitar recording dedicated to the music of John Cage, it features seven early and mid-career compositions, dating from 1933 through 1950 for solo guitar, violin and guitar, and prepared guitar duo. The music is playful, meditative, meandering, introspective, large, quiet, rambunctious, haunting, and regal. Lyricism of Satie and foreshadowing of minimalism and even rock are present on the album.

Aaron was first introduced to the music of John Cage as a student at the New England Conservatory. Disappointed by the lack of representation by mid-century American composers in the guitar repertoire, Aaron chose to make his own arrangements of Cage’s music; the first officially sanctioned arrangements of the 20th century American icon for guitar – now published by Edition Peters. He found similarities in arranging Cage to arranging Bach, claiming the music to be so strong on its own that instrumentation felt secondary: Beautiful music is beautiful. All guitar parts were originally written for solo piano or prepared piano. The compositions required few adjustments from the originals and fit very well on the guitar. Aaron is joined by violinist Sharan Leventhal (Kepler String Quartet) and guitarist Adam Levin.

Whether a cognoscente or someone who wants to discover more about John Cage, this disc is a wonderful recital of one of the great twentieth-century composers, newly imagined and expertly played by wonderful artists.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM

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

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

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

BIOGRAPHIES

Aaron Larget-Caplan is a classical guitarist noted for his “astounding technical proficiency and artistic delicacy” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), renowned for as a recording and touring artist throughout Europe, Russia and the United States. A champion of new music and collaborations, Aaron has premiered over 80 solo and chamber compositions, many being the first compositions for guitar by the commissioned composers. In concerts and recordings, Aaron utilizes many of his own arrangements of music by J.S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Reynaldo Hahn, and numerous Spanish composers. His arrangements of John Cage are the first officially sanctioned arrangements of Cage’s music for guitar and are exclusively published by Edition Peters. Aaron is the founder of the New Lullaby Project, a 21st century commissioning and recording endeavour, which has seen over 55 premieres since 2007 of classical miniatures in the genre of a lullaby.

Sharan Leventhal, violin, has toured four continents as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. She has received grants from the NEA, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording, Chamber Music America, New Music U.S.A., and the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, and has premiered well over 130 works. Sharan has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, is a founding member of the Kepler Quartet, Marimolin, and Gramercy Trio, and can be heard on the New World, Northeastern, Newport Classic, Naxos, Navona, GM and Catalyst labels. She teaches at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music, and is founder and director of Play On, Inc., a non-profit supporting chamber music programs for children.

Adam Levin is a guitarist praised for his “visceral and imaginative” performances (Washington Post) and has performed extensively throughout the USA, Europe, and South America. He has received numerous top prizes, including the Fulbright Scholarship, the Program for Cultural Cooperation Fellowship from Spain’s Cultural Ministry, and the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship to research and perform contemporary Spanish guitar repertoire in Madrid, Spain. He commissioned thirty solo guitar works from four generations of contemporary Spanish composers, which resulted in a contract for a four-volume encyclopaedic series for Naxos, 21st Century Spanish Guitar.

www.stonerecords.co.uk

ENDS

 

Artists:                               Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar); Sharan Leventhal (violin); Adam Levin (guitar)

Disc:                                 John. Cage. Guitar.

Label:                                Stone Records

Catalogue number/barcode:  5060192780833

Release date:                     2 November 2018

Track Listing:

1.       A Room

2.       Three Easy Pieces – I – Round

3.       Three Easy Pieces – II – Duo

4.       Three Easy Pieces – III – Infinite Canon

5.       Chess Pieces

6.       Dream

7.       Six Melodies – I – Melody 1

 

8.       Six Melodies – II – Melody 2

9.       Six Melodies – III – Melody 3

10.     Six Melodies – IV – Melody 4

11.     Six Melodies – V – Melody 5

12.     Six Melodies – VI – Melody 6

13.     In a Landscape

14.     Bacchanale

 

C4NM April 7 Concert Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         March 4, 2018

BACH FROM MUMBAI & CAGE ON GUITAR

American guitar virtuoso Aaron Larget-Caplan returns to San Francisco for a one-night-only performance of ReImaginationS at the Center For New Music on Saturday April 7 at 7pm, 55 Taylor Street in San Francisco, Tenderloin neighborhood.

ReImaginationS explores keyboard works arranged for solo guitar by J.S. Bach and John Cage. The Cage compositions are from his early and mid-career, that vary from simple contrapuntal forms (Round, Canon) to dance works influenced by composer Erik Satie and Japanese music and aesthetics: spacious, modal and lyrical. Larget-Caplan’s arrangements were recently published by Edition Peters, and seek to explore the timbre qualities of the guitar and the spirit of the 20th century American icon. They are the first sanctioned arrangements for guitar.

Indian-American composer Vineet Shende (Bowdoin College) reimagined J.S. Bach through the prism of him being born in Mumbai, India in his Preludes from the Well-Tempered Clavier. Shende’s ‘Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach’ rewrite them in South Indian Carnatic musical language using ragas (modes/scales), as well as tala (shifts in rhythmic groupings and metric modulations), which often play an analogous role to what harmonic tension/release does in Western music. The three Carnatic Preludes on the program are paired with Larget-Caplan’s artistic transcriptions of the original keyboard preludes for guitar. The musical collaboration is a true fusion of musical cultures between India & European classical music, and the musical epochs of the 18th and 21st centuries. All of the compositions featured are California premieres!

Larget-Caplan is on a solo 2-week 10-concert tour on the west coast that takes him from Los Angeles and Bakersfield through the Bay Area and Sacramento, before he heads to Oregon. “I am very excited to be returning to C4NM and the Bay Area. The Bay Area is a perfect metaphor for my artistic imagination of various cultures positively influencing each other, living side-by-side and sharing in their arts. The Center for New Music is a gem and an important part of sharing in the cultural fabric that classical music often forgets to do or keeps in academia. I look forward to premiering these works with the SF community!”

ABOUT THE ARTIST & ARRANGER
Noted for his “astounding technical proficiency and artistic delicacy” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Aaron Larget-Caplan is an international recording and touring guitarist, as well as an outlier in the classical music community. He often performs new music in rural and non-academic venues for people of all-ages, he has premiered over 75 compositions with many being written for him, and regularly highlights composers of non-western backgrounds in his concerts. Aaron’s arrangements of the music of John Cage are published by Edition Peters, and a recording dedicated to John Cage on guitar will be released in 2018 on Stone Records (UK). Stone, Albany, and Parma Records issue his solo and chamber recordings. He is on faculty at University of Massachusetts Boston and formerly Boston Conservatory.

Video Introduction of the John Cage Collection (2’): https://youtu.be/vJdTXTcxJfE
Center For New Music: www.CenterForNewMusic.com
Artist info: www.ALCGuitar.com • info@ALCGuitar.com
C4NM Contact: Kurt Rohde, kurtrohde@dslextreme.com
C4NM Event Page: http://centerfornewmusic.com/calendar/reimaginations-cage-shende-bach-on-guitar-aaron-larget-caplan/
Audio of Carnatic Prelude N. 1: https://soundcloud.com/aaronlcguitar/shende-carnatic-prelude-1

CALENDAR LISTING

Saturday April 7 at 7pm • San Francisco, CA
ReImaginationS – Cage, Shende & Bach on Guitar
Aaron Larget-Caplan, guitar
Admission: $10 Members • $15 General • Door or Online
Where: Center for New Music, 55 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Info: (415) 275-C4NM (2466)
Info: www.centerfornewmusic.com/?p=4126
FBevent: www.facebook.com/events/141279946502125/

 

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