Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Ways to De-Stress

It’s a stressful time. It is.
Dealing with the unknown and needing to react quickly to the latest cancelation or news is not easy. Here are 5 ways to relax by yours truly!

“Not some godawful
Classics-for-Baby”
Fanfare

1 – MUSIC

Of course!
I released ‘New Lullaby’ in 2010 knowing our culture doesn’t sleep well enough or listen to much music by living composers. The result is 14 New Lullabies from 13 American composers, from the warm and sightly dark to the lullaby you shouldn’t hear the end of because you’re asleep. It has continued with over 55 premieres!
Check out the album on BandCamp: alcguitar.bandcamp.com/ (best for Artists)
Physical CDs from: Amazon
Autographed CDs from my Store: alcguitar.com/store (great for Artists!)
Join the New Lullaby Project FB Group!!
Youtube Playlist of New Lullaby Videos

2 – Neu-Becalm’d

After a major house fire in 2007 and finding I couldn’t sleep more than 4 hours or quiet my mind, my wife discovered Neu-Becalm’d™. It is a nutritional supplement that gives the brain-targeted nutrients to aid in the balancing of neurotransmitters. Problems such as mental and emotional focus, or substance abuse may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Very helpful for performance anxiety and quieting the mind. This was life changing!
I do not recommend drugs of any kind (beta blockers, weed, etc), but this is only amino acids. I do believe in it enough to be a distributer.
• You can find it at my Website Store: alcguitar.com/store (we will match prices)

3 – Food

Jasmine Yeh at Banff

During my Banff Music Residency in January (remember January!?) we held a New Lullaby concert with performance art and visuals called ‘The Oscillating Dream Space’. Artist Jasmine Yeh (NY) served up “chill food” and Laura Sofia Perez did visuals. It was amazing!!

I can’t recommend enough finding the right food to compliment your body and assist your mind. It is not comfort food. Chill food is food that helps you relax by its chemical makeup, ie. melatonin (amino acids!).
• A few include: Fruits and vegetables (tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber)
• Grains (rice, barley, rolled oats)
• Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flaxseed)
In other words: Cook!

4 – Garden

‘Tis the season. Go work in your garden. There is not much that compares with digging in the dirt. Don’t forget to wear gloves if you’re a musician. Our Dwarf Iris’ came out and they bring smiles. We need smiles!
That’s it.
Go dig and start planting!

5 – Walk

Go.

via GIPHY

Financial Hits – Credit Cards

Sometimes the universe throws a curve ball that upends our well organized short and longterm plans. In the case of Covid 19, I have a total of 18 events (concerts, classes, radio) on the chopping block for a 3-week period and seven of them have already been canceled/postponed. This has serious immediate financial repercussions for me and my family of over $5K lost, and substantially more if it goes into April.
Since Artists rarely speak about finances amongst each other, I thought I would give a few words of advice regarding credit cards and how one can navigate a precarious situation. Remember: In the US we are judged on our teeth and credit rating.

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I should state I am a touring classical musician (solo and chamber) who teaches at a university (adjunct) and privately, have multiple recordings and arrangements available, lecture on Creating Commissioning Projects and Being an Artist Entrepreneur, AND lost a house and studio due to a major fire. This is not my first rodeo fugue.

CREDIT CARDS

1 – Call your credit card company(s) and ask if they are offering any kind of relief for those out of work due to Covid 19. If they are unsure then speak with someone who knows; they work for you. Depending on the company and card level, they may offer:
– No interest or late payments
– Wave late fees and interest at a later time
– Small business loans
– Horrible hold music (promise!)

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• American Express is actually a wonderful card (no spending limit) and is flexible in making things works during hardship, especially if you are a long time card member. I don’t like large corporations, but if you have to have one, I would go with AMEX. The call took 8min.
• Chase did not have Massachusetts listed as State of Emergency as of today even though our governor stated such yesterday!! I spent 30min on the phone with an advisor and they did agree to wave late fees and interest, but I would have to follow up after the fact. Also I should check in again to see if things have changed.
• I have not yet called BOA…

2 – Make your minimum payments when possible.
Unless they have marked your account specifically, it is always a good idea. Get the name of the customer service person at ALL times.

Balance Transfers
American Express Everyday Card is a no yearly fee card that offers free balance transfers from non-AMEX cards. Chase Slate card as well, and Bank of America also has one. As most credit cards charge a 3-4% fee automatically on all transfers I highly recommend finding a card(s) that works. You WILL still need to pay the balance amounts, but hopefully this shit-show will have passed, we’ll have a new set of leaders, and our lottery numbers will come in. Link for Best No-Fee Cards:

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SAVINGS ACCOUNT – OR CASH
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!

If you are able to get some relief from immediate payments and if you are able to move the money out of your checking account. Put it into a savings account and try not to touch it. If you are of a certain type it may be best to withdraw the money to have cash on-hand.
In either case, DON’T use it the money unless it is a major emergency.
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!
Remember: Nothing is free in the US unless you are famous or rich.

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Read the small print. If you have been or are about to be hit with a large jump in interest transfer the balance ASAP. It usually takes 2 weeks, so act even if you have to pay a 3-4% fee. Compounding interest and late fees can destroy a career, home and family. Eating Chocolate and laying in a fetal position may be nice, but the balances won’t go away.
Do not have guilt in any of this. It is just a game and learning how to juggle is one more skill freelance musicians should learn.
After my fire I went from 3 credit cards to 13 in just over 3-months. It cost money and I made mistakes, but I learned and survived. So can you!

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Other Debt Options

Home Equity Line – Citizens Bank offers a $50K equity line for $50 a year with pretty much a no questions application. Other banks too!
Musicians Foundation – Apply for $500-$3000 to assist with medical, utilities, and vendor bills. Will NOT cover credit card bills.
Patreon – Create art and ask supports to subscribe for a fee. (See my SITE: https://www.patreon.com/alcmusic!!)
Local assistanceThe Record Co. is offering small grants for those who lost gigs. The City of Boston is offering grants of up to $1000 for artists of all types who lost income.
Support Local Artists – Be a part of the solution! If you are able donate to a Patreon, buy an album (physical with autograph is best), promote another. (Check out my store: https://alcguitar.com/store.php)

photo: Catherine Larget-Caplan

Becalm’d – Quieting the mind

I’m regularly asked how I can perform in front of so many people and remember so much music. Of course the simple answer is that I enjoy it and I practice a lot, but that is not to say I haven’t had my hurdles to deal with or had to work on many aspects of quieting the mind so I can perform with peace.

My wife Catherine is a healer and voracious reader about how the mind, body, and spirit can work in harmony. Neither of us are fans of beta-blockers and other calming tools, as we find they have too many other negative effects. After a major house fire where I could not sleep for more than 3-4 hours a night, Catherine discovered Neu-Becalm’d. Ever since I have slept better and performed at a substantially higher level. As it is just amino-acids there is nothing to overdose on nor side-effects. I HIGHLY recommend this to musicians and artists, as well as those who want more out of life.
*For those who are interested you can find it online or you can purchase it via my STORE and get a free sticker.

FROM THE Neu-Becalm’d Website
Neu-Becalm’d is a nutritional supplement that gives the brain-targeted nutrients to aid in the balancing of neurotransmitters. Problems such as mental and emotional focus, or substance abuse may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Scientists recently learned that in handling lack of focus and other stress related disorders the brain uses significant quantities of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). At some point, the level and/or number of stressors can cause the brain to run out of these chemicals. Typically, when this happens, a person first begins to have difficulty sleeping, experiencing depression, loss of temper, interest, sex drive, attention and feelings of anxiety.

It has been proven that with proper diet and selective supplementation, prescription medications with all of their side effects, need never become a part of your life.

Your brain is supplied with nutritional support for restoring and rebuilding healthy brain chemistry.

With Neu-Becalm’d™

  1. You can focus and think more clearly
  2. You will regain and retain a positive mood
  3. You will find internal well-being, stay calm
  4. You will sleep more soundly and wake refreshed
  5. You are able to cope with every day stress more successfully
  6. You can control your emotions
  7. You will feel hopeful and positive, more optimistic
  8. You will experience a higher level of self-worth
  9. You will be able to relax and “turn your mind off”
  10. You will reach and sustain an improved energy level

The reason why Neu-Becalm’d produces such incredible results in so many different ways is because it addresses the needs of the brain in a manner that no other product does.

Neu-Becalm’d™ IS PATENTED because of its ingredients and their formulation and how the brain reacts when the ingredients enter the brain fluid.

Neu-Becalm’d Ingredients & Their Importance (2 Capsules Per Serving)

  • 5HTP (Tryptophan): (10mg) Tryptophan is one of your essential amino acids, and can not be manufactured by your body. You must get this amino acid from either your food or a supplement. It combats stress, depression, insomnia, and aids in weight control. Research shows that it helps relieve migraine headaches and may reduce some of the harmful effects of nicotine. It aids your body in the production of serotonin.
  • Calcium (from Calcium Citrate): (21mg) Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and the fifth most abundant substance. About 99% is deposited in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is involved in the soft tissues, intracellular fluids and blood. The 1% of ionized Calcium that circulates in the fluids of the body is small but vital to your life. It is essential for healthy blood and eases insomnia and its delicate messenger ions help regulate the heart beat. Along with Calicum, magnesium is needed to properly maintain the cardiovascular system. It affects neurotransmitters (serotonin, acetycholine, norepinephrine) nerve transmissions, muscle growth and muscle contraction. Calcium is needed for emotional stability. Without it you may have a lack of rational emotion, feelings of irritability, sudden unexplained tears, or sleep problems.
  • Magnesium (from Magnesium Citrate): (8mg) Magnesium is an essential mineral that accounts for about 0.05% of your body weight. Most is found inside your cells where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. It helps to regulate the acid-akaline balance in the body. Magnesium helps promote the absorption and metabolism of other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. It also helps to utilize the B complex and vitamins C and E in your body. It aids during bone growth and is necessary for proper functioning of muscles, including those of the heart.
  • Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxal-5- Phosphate): (2mg) B Vitamins are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system and may be the single most important factor for maintenance of the nerves. Along with other ingredients, it helps your body to develop the neurotransmitters Gaba, Enkephalins, Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Without these neurotransmitters you may have free floating anxiety; fearful, insecure feelings; feelings that things are closing in around you; unexplained panic; Feelings of incompleteness; lack of fulfillment; feelings of inferiority or inadequacy; never feels “equal”; Anhedonia: no pleasure in life world looks colorless; inability to “love”; no remorse about personal behavior; Lack of ambition; Lack of drive; Lack of energy; and Depression.
  • L-Glutamine: (300mg) Glutamine is used primarily as a brain food (improves intelligence). It alleviates fatigue and is also helpful in the treatment of arthritis, connective tissue diseases and fibromyalgia.
  • Folic Acid (as Folate): (200mcg) Folic Acid is one of the B complex vitamins and is necessary to help in the development of the neurotransmitter, Enkephalins . . . without which you may have feelings of incompleteness; lack of fulfillment; feelings of inferiority or inadequacy and never feeling “equal”.
  • DL-Phenylalanine: (600mg) Enhances sexual interest, improves memory and alertness. Very useful in aleviating symptoms of Pre-menstral syndrome (PMS) and is a very strong anti-depressant. D-Phenylalanine helps your body to replace Enkephalins which aids in psychological pain relief. L-Phenylalanine contributes to the development of dopamine (Pleasure, Reward, Good Feelings, Towards Others, Maternal and Paternal Love) and Norepinephrine (Arousal, Energy Drive).


Happy New Year & Winter-Spring 2020

There are firsts in 2020 beginning right away!

Dear Music Lovers,
I am looking forward to an exciting year of music making. The next few months will hear 35+ different solo and chamber pieces including multiple premieres, new arrangements, and a few commissions. ¡Guitar + Electronics!
For the first time I will be Musician in Residence at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity in Canada beginning this Monday, where I will continue my exploration of John Cage on Guitar. February brings recording contemporary music and touring ¡Con Fuego!. In March & April I join violist Michael Hall for concerts in NYC & Boston, before doing a solo tour in California. Balancing the many programs and projects is a challenge, but I’m a professional. It’s what I do.
Read below about a new Cage edition from Edition Peters, as well as new videos, AND you can follow my Banff experience on social media. Click on the symbols on the top right to join in the fun.
May 2020 bring peace, great adventures, a bit of bubbly, and great music to all!
Musically,
Aaron

*Go to Aaron’s Calendar for concert details!

CAGE: PIANO MUSIC – New Edition!

I am very pleased to announce that Edition Peters has released the 2nd edition of my JOHN CAGE: PIANO MUSIC ARRANGED FOR GUITAR, and it includes TWO additional pages of notes!
The notes gives context to the works, a few thoughts on interpretation, and ideas how to approach them as a guitarist.
*Check out the wonderful review of the editions in the Fall 2019 edition of Soundboard

Go to Edition Peters to get your copy:
https://www.edition-peters.com/product/piano-music-arranged-for-guitar/ep68585
The holidays aren’t over yet!!

Soundboard Score+Album Reviews

CAGE: PIANO MUSIC ARRANGED FOR GUITAR (Edition Peters): “I would strongly advocate these compositions to be performed by young guitarists before they start working on any other contemporary composers.”
– Soundboard, Vol. 45, No. 3, p. 55

JOHN. CAGE. GUITAR. (Stone Records): “[Bacchanale] is a marvelous racket! The artist, who did all of the arrangements, is greatly to be commended for this project, for which he also provided the fascinating liner notes. As noted earlier, recorded sound is crystalline.” – Soundboard, vol. 45, No. 3, p. 57

*Author was notified of name spelling mistake. It’s disturbing…

Meet the Artists: Katherine & Robert Bender

I met the Bender Family at the 2011 Guitar Foundation of America where I gave a lesson to Kenneth, son of Robert and Katherine. Beyond the obvious talent Kenneth possessed, I found Robert to be very talented with the camera and a wonderful guy to talk to.

I visited and stayed with them in 2012 on a run of southern California concerts. Catherine joined me the following New Years for an excellent adventure of music, BBQ and friendship. The painting at right was done in 2012. I love the energy, vivid colors, and my Spock-like ears!! (Better to hear the timbres!). Hands, waves, love…what else. They also have two large puppies, who are always on hand for music on the guitar .

The husband and wife duo also do some beautiful ceramic work. As a thank you for teaching, I received a gift from Kenneth that hangs on my music wall. We have other works by them. As I get a pictures I will add them to this post.

Check out their work at Karob Studios, and visit when in Southern California!

¡Viva las Artistas!

18 Musical Amazings for 2018!

18. Celebrated after many concerts and classes!

17. Classes and lectures at Temple University, Sacramento State, Tainan University (Taiwan), Bowdoin College, Berklee College of Music, Miko Academy (Taiwan), University of Massachusetts Boston

16. Premiered arrangements of Castelnouvo-Tedesco, J.S. Bach, Reynaldo Hahn, and John Cage.

15. Two performances in Madrid, Spain, and two performances for F13 Concerts in Mainz, Germany: Numbers 4 & 5!!

14. Performed with Radius Ensemble, South Coast Chamber Music Series, Music Street, In A Landscape, and Astoria Music Festival.

13. Multiple concert, publication, and CD reviews by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Mu Phi Epsilon ‘Triangle’, This is Classical Guitar, and Classical Guitar Magazine.

12. Arranged music by John Cage, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Franz Schubert, and J.S. Bach.

11. Touring in Oregon and Washington with Hiroya Tsukamoto.

10. Spring West Coast Solo and Chamber Music Tour of 13 events in 15 days beginning in Southern California moving to the Bay Area and Sacramento and finishing in Oregon!

9. Collaborations with cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer, baritones Richard Zeller & Ian Pomerantz, violinists Sharan Leventhal & Danny Koo, pianist Dian Braun, guitarists Tim Pence and Adam Levin, flamenco dancer/singer La Conja.

8. All New Lullaby Concert ‘Night Songs’ at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas and Salem State University (Arts Residency).

7. Premieres of New Lullabies by Stephanie Ann Boyd, Koji Nakano, Milad Yousufi and  Roger Eon (#52-55).

6. 1st All-Bach Concert

5. John. Cage. Guitar. CD Release Concert!

4. Paris Debut

3. Asian debut in Taiwan!

2. Release of John. Cage. Guitar. on Stone Records!

1. BBQ with friends, coffee with colleagues, celebrations with family.

Wishing everyone many more good years of music, adventure, great food and heartfelt relationships.

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