Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

REVIEW – INTERVIEW by Ken Meltzer

God’s Time—Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar is another in a series of superb recordings from Aaron Larget-Caplan. Here, Larget-Caplan performs his own transcriptions of Bach’s music. In my extended interview with Aaron Larget-Caplan, the guitarist describes his intensive exploration of Bach, and pays tribute to the musicians who have served the Baroque master so well. In that interview, Larget-Caplan’s reverence for, and affinity with Bach’s music are clear. And those elements are affirmed both in Larget-Caplan’s superb transcriptions and his poetic renditions. All of the transcriptions preserve the integrity and beauty of Bach’s original compositions.

In our interview, Larget-Caplan quotes organist/harpsichordist Peter Sykes, who “advised that transcriptions should sound as if they were written for the instrument.” This, Larget-Caplan achieves as well, in sterling fashion. And the rightness of his transcriptions are affirmed in performances that bear Larget-Caplan’s characteristic gorgeous tonal quality, crystal-clear articulation, and poetic phrasing. Larget-Caplan’s delineation of Bach’s contrapuntal writing is remarkable for its balance of precision and supple musicality. And in his fiery rendition of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy, Larget-Caplan communicates his view of the work as a precursor to the Sturm und Drang movement. The gorgeous recorded sound does full justice to Larget-Caplan’s artistry. A splendid release.

Ken Meltzer, Fanfare

5 StarsFive stars: Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan’s exquisite transcriptions of Bach

Interview with Aaron Larget-Caplan by Ken Meltzer, Fanfare

God’s Time—Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar, presents arrangements and performances by Aaron Larget-Caplan. I spoke with Larget-Caplan about his lifelong exploration of Bach, the composer’s legendary interpreters, the art of transcription, and the significance of the repertoire included in God’s Time.

Your liner notes for God’s Time – Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar contain some fascinating comments that I would love to pursue further. For example: “There are many interpretations of Bach’s music by renowned artists to explore and ideas to internalize, which early in my career I found musically overwhelming.” Tell us about some of those artists, and why they inspired the profound reaction you describe.

The recordings of the major 20th-century masters were so full of personal character and technical mastery with each bearing the stamp of the performer, the space, and the label. I’m thinking of Gould and Richter, Heifetz, Landowska, Rostropovich, and Casals. They did things that many frown upon now, but even the approach to how the instruments were recorded was unique with the labels trying to be independent of each other. These performances still make me excited.

As I explored more and more, I discovered pianists such as Samuel Feinberg and William Kapell, both of whom were technical masters. I fell for Kapell through his Prokofiev recordings.

Living in Boston, violinists Rachel Podger, Christian Tetzlaff, Christoph Poppen are not unheard-of names. Each quite unique from the other, they shed light on ornamentation, variation of tempi, and lyricism.

I believe every guitarist goes through a harpsichord phase. Mine began with Landowska, and then the NEC early music department under John Gibbons. The wonderful Peter Sykes has deservingly placed his stamp on Boston and I’m grateful to hear him perform. Searching for Lute-harpsichord albums, I found the lovely collection by Robert Hill. Informative notes and playing, but hearing such works on early keyboards, which have different mechanisms and action speed then the modern day piano also gives the work a human touch. Gould is great, but fast is not always a choice I agree with.

Regarding the guitar, I fell in love with the early recordings of Maria Luisa Anido and Luise Walker for their use of color, rubato, and unbelievable technical abilities. Segovia’s Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude was, and still is, mind blowing. The structure and drama of Julian Bream’s Lute suites, the clarity of the Assad Duo, Paul Galbtraith’s silky touch, and the inventiveness of David Leisner’s ornamentation all played influential roles in what I do today.

At the end of the day, I can’t say any of these are right or wrong. I believe it is up to the artist to fully invest themselves in the music. I am not Julian Bream, nor should I be. To have Music in Life and a Life in Music means I must be me in every note. That said, stealing is most welcome.

You further reveal: “I took a break from programming (Bach) to allow time to study his music through unknown masters on various instruments, read more about his life, and further explore the place of music in society through writings of John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, Hazarat Inyat Kahn, and others.” Would you be willing to tell us more about this path of exploration?

Society’s relationship with music has changed over the course of time. What was once sacred and only heard in a church or private court is now background music or filler for video games. Since my first album was released in 2006, the practice of hearing and experiencing music has completely changed, and that’s without thinking about Covid.

For a short time in 2nd half of the 20th century, the advent of recorded music allowed some musicians to believe that recordings would be enough to give up live performance. For some this was great, while others disagreed. Though it wasn’t an option for me, I do believe the relationship between artist and audience to be sacred. I worked to make the recording intimate and as if the listener had very good seats in a beautiful space.

Books on the life of Bach and interpreting his music that I found inspiring:

  • Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner
  • Interpreting Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier: A Performer’s Discourse of Method by Ralph Kirkpatrick
  • Bach Interpretation: Articulation Marks in Primary Sources of J. S. Bach by John Butt
  • Bach: Expanded Edition by Little, Meredith, Jenne, Natalie
  • Bach by Frederick Neumann
  • The Fencing Master, About Mrs. Anna Magdalena Bach’s Autograph Copy of the 6 Suites for Violoncello Solo senza Basso of Johann Sebastian Bach by Anner Bylsma

Books on performing and the place of music in society:

  • Glenn Gould Reader by Glenn Gould
  • Charm and Speed: Virtuosity in the Performing Arts by Vernon Alfred Howard
  • Confronting Silence by Toru Takemitsu
  • Silence by John Cage
  • The Music of Life and other titles by Hazrat Inyat Kahn

Please tell us a bit more about your involvement with John Cage, and in particular, your arrangements and recordings of his music.

What started as a wouldn’t-this-sound-cool type of project, became a recording and publishing endeavor far beyond what I imagined. In 2013, I arranged the piano part of Cage’s ‘Six Melodies’ for violin and guitar and performed it as part of my faculty recital at the Boston Conservatory with violinist Sharan Leventhal. Composer and violinist Thomas L. Read loved it and encouraged me to reach out to Edition Peters. I did.

They published the score in 2015 and it sold well enough for them to ask for a set of solos. In 2018 they published seven solos under ‘Piano Music for Guitar,’ and in September 2022 Bacchanale for prepared guitar duo. An album of all of them, John. Cage. Guitar. (Stone Records) came out in 2018.

In January 2020, I was Musician in Residence for a month at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada where I began working on two more large arrangements, and I returned the project in May 2022 with a weeklong residency in Clinton, New York at the Kirkland Arts Center.

The music has been very well received and the director of the John Cage Trust, Laura Kuhn, and host of ‘All Things Cage’ has had me on multiple times.

Cage’s music introduced me to many wonderful artists and expanded my understanding of the mid-20th century American music and art scene, but more importantly, the reaction of audience members to this music has been overwhelmingly positive.

Many musicians’ only relationship to Cage’s music comes from his later creations, so they are surprised to learn of the lyricism and beauty he composed. General audience actually love it.

Tell us about the title you chose for the new Bach CD (God’s Time), and its significance to the project.

As I mention in the liner note, pianist Seymour Bernstein introduced me to the work ‘Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit’ (God’s Time is the Very Best Time), BWV106, and asked me to arrange it for guitar. I knew right away it was a “keeper” and the title of the album had to be ‘God’s Time.’

As a musician knows, sometimes we play Bach and other times Bach plays us. It’s not on our time…

God’s Time features your transcriptions of various works Bach originally composed for keyboard. Bach’s music has long been the subject of transcriptions. Bach himself often repurposed his music for different pieces and performing forces. What is it about Bach’s music that makes it so attractive (and effective) for transcription?

The fact we don’t know much about Bach as a person, exactly how his music was played, except for an occasional tempo and dynamic marking, the general lack of direction, how it actually sounded at the time, and how it was received, allows for a great amount of freedom; the music can be shaped to reflect our own personal tastes.

I grew up hearing the amazing music played on a piano, not a period instrument, so I have accepted such changes from the start.

The variation and steadfast belief musicians have for their own interpretation made me adapt a little joke for Bach: If two musicians on a deserted island had to agree on how to interpret a Bach prelude, there would be three versions: one for each of them, and one they both dislike.

As a guitarist, the lack of original works by the famous European composers, made transcription for the guitar a cornerstone of the 20th century repertoire: Albéniz, Granados, Scarlatti, Piazzolla, and Handel. Today it is not uncommon to hear Mussorgsky or Cage on one guitar and Beethoven on two. It almost feels the common practice of transcribing popular music for various instruments that existed pre-recording era is starting to return.

My general belief: as long as music is being played and introduced to society it is a good thing.

What are some of your favorite Bach transcriptions by other artists, and what qualities in them do you find particularly compelling?

By far the most influential are those by Ferruccio Busoni. I know I heard the Bach-Busoni Chaconne prior to hearing it on violin or guitar.

Researching the album, I found he did quite a few other adjustments to Bach. I almost included Busoni’s version of the Little Fugue in C Minor, BWV 961 (played in D Minor), which has three more measures.

For a time, I had a small obsession with searching out various versions of the Chaconne, including the Brahms for piano left hand, Busoni’s, electric keyboard, multiple for cello, viola, harp, and even the choral-violin version of The Hilliard Ensemble & Christoph Poppen.

The work of the guitar duos, Presti and Lagoya, Assad Brothers and the Abreu Brothers cannot be overstated. The clarity of their playing and inventiveness of ornamentation are breathtaking. I also have a love for mid-20th century solo guitar transcriptions with their lovely colors and romantic rubato additions.

What are your thoughts on Leopold Stokowski’s kaleidoscopic orchestral transcriptions of Bach?

Love them. Bach pushed the instruments and voices at his disposal to their limits, so I would have a hard time believing he would not have done similarly with a 20th century orchestra.

What are your goals and challenges when transcribing Bach’s compositions?

Many years ago, I spoke about with organist/harpsichordist Peter Sykes, who famously transcribed Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’. He advised that transcriptions should sound as if they were written for the instrument. I think this to be wise advice.

With the Six Small Preludes and A Little Fugue, I wanted the works to sound as if they were written for guitar, while also acknowledging the keyboard lesson aspects for those who know them. For instance, though it was extremely difficult, I wanted to make sure ornaments in the bass voice of Prelude in C Major, BWV 924 were clear, and the tempo in Prelude in D Minor, BWV 962 was proper to feel the hemiolas, and the bass articulation in Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999 was somewhat close to the actual notation.

The Prelude and ‘Fiddle’ Fugue presented a whole new set of challenges as there are different versions for violin, organ, and lute. Julian Bream famously made his transcription from the lute and violin.

Again, Peter Sykes urged me to check out the organ version in D Minor, BWV 539, which includes a prelude. I was intrigued right away, as I always disliked how the lute version lacked a prelude, and when I read through the organ version, I knew it would be perfect on guitar.

In the fugue I saw so many dissonant notes that were playable on guitar, so I slowly started adding them to my Segovia & Tárrega scores and after a week or two I was writing out my own “new” version.

In your liner notes, you address the issue of retaining the keys of the original Bach works.

Though speculation of the spiritual meaning of keys and their effects on the listener, I do believe Bach was fully aware of the symbolism of each key. He doesn’t come across as a composer who left things to chance.

As a guitarist, I wanted to try to make sure that the album was not just in the standard ‘guitar keys’ (E, A, D).  Besides the use of the Capo, there are three tunings on the album: Standard, drop D, and G (5-G, 6-D).

Though Bach changed the key to multiple compositions to suit the instrument (see “fiddle” Fugue BWV 539/1000/1001), I did want to keep the original key when possible. For ‘God’s Time…’ and the Prelude in E Flat Minor, WTC I, BWV 853, I was able to keep the original keys of E Flat Minor and E Flat major by tuning my lowest string (6) from E/mi to D/re and then adding a Capo on the first fret.

Tell us about the repertoire on God’s Time, and why you chose it for transcription and performance.

Prelude, Fugue, Allegro in E Flat Major, BWV 998 (played in D Major) • A unique work that stands out from the lute suites in its lyricism, construction, and flexibility of interpretation. The technical approachability of the prelude is countered by the daunting six-minute, three-part and three-voice fugue of movement two. The binary allegro looks straightforward but asks many questions of the interpreter. The symbolism and mathematical relations of the movements inspire, and the fact that each movement has some sort of repetition invites the performer to ornament, which I do.

Prelude in C Major, WTC I, BWV 846 • Part of my repertoire for years, it was the right time to record it.

Prelude & Fiddle Fugue, BWV 539/1000 • Epic and see above.

God’s Time is the Very Best Time, BWV 106 • So many of us have experienced loss over the last two years, that it seemed like the right piece for the time.

Chromatic Fantasy in D Minor, BWV 903 • One of my favorite instrumental solos of Bach for its completely unique place in repertoire. The toccata opening, the recitative middle section with sudden flourishes, and the descending diminished chords of the closing, the knocking of death, only to finish on the warmest of D Major chords. Such a range of emotions that it could easily be considered a Sturm und Drang work a century later. Maybe it was foreshadowing the movement… Regardless, a masterpiece!

Prelude in E Flat Minor, WTC I, BWV 853 • I heard Richter’s performance of this prelude and knew I would need to make a version for guitar. The pacing, the floating melody that climbs and falls, the oscillating minor 2nds, the dotted rhythms, and warmth of the last four bars. Just magical.

Six Small Preludes and A Little Fugue • I am extremely proud of these transcriptions. From a pedological standpoint for guitar, they are wonderful additions to the repertoire that allow students to play smaller works by Bach that can be steppingstones to larger works. Musically, they contain a plethora of emotions that require a level of technical mastery but are also open enough that various tempos can be chosen and quite satisfying unto themselves.

In one of your transcriptions, that of the BWV 999 Prelude, you incorporate a bit of another Bach piece.

Yes, I have never been content with the Little Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999 ending on the dominant. It is accepted as that’s-the-way-it-is, but not for me. I was working on a transcription of Prelude 3 in C Major, WTC II, BWV 872, which I found to have a similar arpeggio motif and that also ends on the dominant before a coda finishes the piece. I stole the coda from BWV 872, transposed it to the dominant of D Minor (A Major), and added it to the end of BWV 999 as a new Coda. It is not perfect, but I think it follows the line of Busoni fixing the Prelude in C Minor, BWV 961, and a lot of fun to perform.

Some of the included Bach compositions have been previously transcribed by others. Did that impact your approach in your own transcriptions of the works?

Quite a bit and especially with the Prelude, Fugue, Allegro, BWV 998.

My instructors at the New England Conservatory, David Leisner and Eliot Fisk, are both well known for their transcriptions, so it seems very natural to make my own.

Leisner also expected his students to add ornament. His Bach recording is inspiring in this respect.

Are there other Bach compositions you’d like to transcribe?

Quite a few!

On another subject: In the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Fanfare (45:2), I had the pleasure of reviewing Vols. 2 and 3 (Stone Records) of you performing works from your The New Lullaby Project. Tell us about that project and the recordings.

The New Lullaby Project began in 2007 to bridge the chasm of fear composers have for writing for the guitar and audiences towards listening to contemporary music. Since then, over 65 composers from 10 countries have had their new lullabies premiered, with number 71 receiving its premiere in October 2022.

The first album, New Lullaby, came out in 2010, followed by volumes 2 and 3 (Nights Transfigured and Drifting) in 2020 and 2021 with 46 having been recorded to date.

In 2020, in partnership with the American Composers Alliance, we published the first anthology of scores, Nights Transfigured, which earned multiple Revere Awards from the Music Publishers Association of the United States. Volume 2, Hushed, was published in 2021.

More recordings and publications are in the works.

While we’re on the subject of your other recordings, Colin Clarke (Fanfare 46:1, Sept/Oct 2022) reviewed honey cadence, a collection of your own compositions for guitar. Take us on a brief tour of this endeavor, please!

honey cadence explores some of my favorite aspects of the guitar: timbre, harmonics, string bends, and having the same pitch in multiple places on the instrument. Each title has something to do with a musical direction: cadence, moving, nuance, anticipation, play. Musically they are influenced by John Cage, bits of Bach, and Villa-Lobos, with nods to Ravel and even Queen. The latter weren’t necessarily conscious, but I hear them now.

I’m very proud of finally entering this new artistic realm, and the response has been outstanding with over 700K streams since its release in April 2022!

What future endeavors are on the horizon?

  • ACA publication of honey cadence scores.
  • Edition Peters publication of a solo by Alan Hovhaness.
  • A guitar and electronics project, which has heard premieres by Tom Flaherty, Lou Bunk, and Lainie Fefferman. Videos online.
  • A large work by Daniel Felsenfeld, his first guitar solo.
  • New Lullaby Project premieres, recording, and publishing.
  • A micro-opera by Richard Cameron-Wolfe.
  • And a great project: Carnatic Preludes, After J.S. Bach with composer Vineet Shende (Bowdoin College). Shende re-imagines WTC preludes as if Bach were from South India and we pair them to my own transcriptions of Bach’s originals. We started in 2017 and have only a couple left.

The horizon is full of music!

Aaron Larget-Caplan’s website: https://alcguitar.com

 

BACH (arr. Larget-Caplan) Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in E-flat, BWV998. The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Prelude No. 1 in C, BWV846; Prelude No. 8 in e-flat, BWV853. Prelude and Fugue in d, “Fiddle” BWV539-1000. God’s Time is the

Very Best Time, “Actus tragicus”, BWV106. Chromatic Fantasy in d, BWV903. Twelve Little Preludes: in C, BWV924; in d, BWV926; in g, BWV930; in c, BWV999-872. Fugue in c, BWV961. Six Little Preludes: in c, BWV 934. Five Little Preludes: in C, BWV939  • Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) • Tiger Turn (888-09) • (Streaming audio: 49:02)

REVIEW – God’s Time – Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar

Five Stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ : A stimulating, inspiring take on Bach for all lovers of Classical guitar

Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

This appears to be a departure from Aaron Larget-Caplan’s recent albums reviewed in these pages. In those albums, the concert guitarist, composer, arranger, educator, and commissioner of countless works for his instrument can be heard performing dozens of those pieces that he has commissioned and premiered. But at some stage in every guitarist’s career, whether early, middle, or late, there comes the inevitable meeting with Johann Sebastian Bach.

And that is the odd thing, you see, because as far as we know, Bach never wrote a single note for guitar. What he did write—or more properly put, what he transcribed in some cases from works he’d previously composed for other instruments—were a number of pieces for lute and/or lautenwerk, the latter a Baroque keyboard instrument similar to a harpsichord, but strung with gut rather than metal strings, thereby producing a mellow tone imitative of a lute.

Seven such entries appear in Bach’s work catalog under the numbers BWV 995 through 1000, plus BWV 1006a. As noted in a previous review, they are as follows:

Suite in G Minor BWV 995 17314 Lute1 Cello Suite 53
Suite in E Minor BWV 996 17174 Lute-Hpd2
Suite in C Minor BWV 997 17414 Lute-Hpd1
Prelude/Fugue/Allegro BWV 998 17354 Lute Hpd1
Prelude in C Minor BWV 999 17234 Lute1
Fugue in G Minor BWV 1000 17234 Lute1
Suite in E Major BWV 1006a 17374 Lute1 Violin Partita 33

1 Instrument likely
2 Instrument unlikely
3 Bach’s own transcription
4 All dates subject to speculation

By way of an update to the above table, I would quote Clive Titmuss, who, writing in Classical Guitar Canada, cited recent scholarship in stating that “the apocryphal lute works lie well within the confines of Bach’s established keyboard style, and were probably written for various keyboard instruments, including something called the lute-harpsichord.”

In other words, not only did Bach never write a single for guitar, he may never have written an original piece for lute either. Given the fact that many of Bach’s original manuscripts are lost, and that he often cannibalized his own extant works for use in new compositions, no one can say for sure if the seven numbers—minus the composer’s own two transcriptions of the cello suite and the violin partita—didn’t exist in earlier versions for other instruments.

Putting all of that aside, the fact is that much of Bach’s keyboard music, and some of it not for keyboard—I’m thinking of the Chaconne from the Partita in D Minor for Unaccompanied Violin—have been ripe for the picking (no pun intended) by guitarists since time immemorial.

Aaron Larget-Caplan here joins his many illustrious contemporaries and predecessors in a program of Bach’s keyboard works he has put together from his own transcriptions and sometimes fanciful recombinant realizations.

Some of the pieces are familiar fare in guitar collections—for example, the Fantasy from the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903, and the very first prelude in C Major from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier. But Larget-Caplan is not necessarily one to play things straight. One would not brand his performances with the HIP label. But then again, considering that none of these pieces was originally conceived for guitar to begin with, the notion of “historically informed practice” begs the question of what is historical and who is doing the informing. Thus, no eyebrow need be raised when Larget-Caplan raises the octave of the last measures of the aforementioned C-Major Prelude “for an ethereal conclusion.”

When it comes to those famed guitarists past and present— Segovia, Oscar Ghilgia, and Eliot Fisk—Larget-Caplan invokes their spirt and their arrangements of the Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro, BWV 998, one of those speculative lute-harpsichord pieces cited in the above table.

The album cover sports an unusual title, God’s Time, extracted from the full title of Bach’s Cantata, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (God’s time is the very best time), BWV 106. While not the longest track on the disc, I intuit from Larget-Caplan’s deeply-felt album note that his guitar arrangement of the cantata’s opening Sonatina is the emotional heart, soul, and inspiration for this labor of love.

Larget-Caplan quotes Seymour Bernstein, with whom he studied, as saying, “Our job as musicians is to elicit emotion.” Larget-Caplan then relates the story of how Bernstein performed his piano arrangement of BWV 106, and how “at that moment, I understood. I felt the whole world majestically move in solemn humility. He then turned to me, handed me the music with instructions to arrange it for guitar. Basing my version of Gottes Zeit ist die allerbest Zeit on Bersntein’s, I keep the original key of EI Major and dedicate it to him for the decades of glorious inspiration he has given his students.”

I readily admit that some of what’s on offer in Larget-Caplan’s recital takes a little sorting out because he has reconstituted it to take new forms never envisioned by Bach. Such is the headnote item listed as the Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, “Fiddle,” BWV 953 and 1000. According to Larget-Caplan’s album note, “Bach wrote three versions of the “Fiddle” Fugue: 1) the G-Minor Fugue from the Unaccompanied Violin Sonata, BWV 1001; 2) the speculative lute version in G Minor, BWV 1000; and 3) the version for organ, transposed to D Minor, BWV 539. Only the violin and organ fugues include a prelude.

Based on this, and “inspired by Julian Breams’s fugue arrangement and encouraged by harpsichordist Peter Sykes to research the organ version,” Larget-Caplan tells us that he launched into his own edition, a draft of which he shared with pianist Seymour Bernstein in 2013, and was encouraged by Bernstein to continue. “Performed in A Minor, the somber and lyrical Prelude derives from the organ version. The exciting and relentless Fugue is a mélange of all three versions.”

Much else on the second half of the program is given over to selections from the groupings of Little Preludes, BWV 924–932, BWV 933–938, and BWV 939–943. Bach’s authorship of some of these pieces is doubtful. But whether by Bach or not, all of them were almost certainly intended for keyboard instruction of Bach’s children and his other students. In their settings for guitar by Larget-Caplan, these simple, yet hardly simplistic, pieces come across with the pristine beauty and sense of timelessness that tell us these too are in “God’s time.”

For the recording, made in June, 2022, Larget-Caplan plays a 2009 guitar by French maker Olivier Fanton D’Andon. D’Andon received the highest national distinction in France as Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for his award-winning work as a luthier. Listening to his guitar on this recording, one would have to agree that the recognition accorded him was well-deserved.

But of course, the guitar doesn’t play itself, and for that Aaron Larget-Caplan earns the highest praise possible for his flawless and very impressive technique, the great beauty of tone he draws from the instrument, and for his highly creative, thought-provoking, and emotionally moving performances of these works. If God can make time for this, surely you can too. Jerry Dubins

BACH Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in EI, BWV 998. WTC, Book I: Prelude No. 1 in C, BWV 846; Prelude No. 8 in eI, BWV 853. Prelude and Fugue in d, “Fiddle,” BWV 953 and 1000. Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106. Chromatic Fantasy in d, BWV 903. Little Preludes: No. 1 in C, BWV 924; No. 5 in d, BWV 926; No. 11 in g, BWV 930; No. 2 in c, BWV 934; No. 3 in c, BWV 999/872; No. 2 in C, BWV 939. Little Fugue in c, BWV 961 • Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) • CDs: BANDCAMP 888-09 (49:01) • Streaming: SPOTIFYAMAZONAPPLE

Anthology Review Soundboard – Nights Transfigured + Hushed

Very excited to see that the New Lullaby Project anthologies ‘Nights Transfigured’ and ‘Hushed’ were reviewed by Peter Yates in the venerable guitar journal Soundboard. I am overjoyed for the attention given to the project, the composers, and the wonderful American Composers Alliance, who I partnered with for the two volumes. More to come!!

The anthologies are available via American Composers Alliance website or my Bandcamp page.

*click on the images below to enlarge and read. 

REVIEW – Drifting in AMR

A nice way to begin the new year with a write up of ‘Drifting, Volume 3 of the New Lullaby Project’ in the American Record Guide January/February 2022 edition.
What do you think? What New Lullabies stand out to you?

REVIEW: Drifting in Fanfare Magazine

REVIEW: New Lullaby – Music Web International

New Lullaby: Fourteen enchanting ways to fall asleep
Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar)
rec. Futura Productions, October 2009, Roslindale, Massachusetts, USA
Six String Sound 2009 & Stone Records 2021 [52:46]

This CD, the first of three that form the “New Lullaby Project”, presents lullabies for adults. As Larget-Caplan states in his liner notes “I don’t have kids”.

In 2006 he started requesting compositions for this project before he suffered two major traumas. Firstly, he lost his house in a fire. Secondly, only two months later, his wife sustained major injuries in an accident. He refers to the irony that he himself needed so much sleep after twelve house-moves in over two and a half years. The fourteen lullabies were performed at three locations in 2009, shortly before this recording. He states that they “Calm the mind, take us to a new place and leave our ears with the gift of sound as we travel through the realm of our realities. Let us be enveloped by the living music of our world and take comfort that we live amongst it.”

I listened to the disc and treated it as a whole concept. The various compositions work fluently and the sequence has been well thought out. There are notes on each piece by the composers; in a live setting I presume that Larget-Caplan would explain the pieces. I was particularly taken with “Berceuse” by David Vayo where Aaron (I presume) whistles and hums. It would certainly be appropriate for young children. Not all the lullabies are “night music”. Carson Cooman contributes “unfolding the gates of dawn”: a morning lullaby. My son, listening to the CD with me, pointed out the hint of the Beatles’ “In no time” by Jonathan Feist. The “Fab Four” clearly influence some of the other compositions as does “Cavatina”. That said, the composers are to be congratulated for composing music of intrinsically high quality.

This album certainly engenders feeling of peace which, given the personal circumstances of the performer when he was planning the project, is apt. There are times when this disc will be appropriate and I found it achieved its aim of producing a state of peacefulness. I look forward to hearing the next two CDs in this project. David R Dunsmore, October
Contents
1. The Sixth Night – Lynn JOB [3:39]
2. Leaky Roof – Jonathan FEIST [1:27]
3. No Time – Jonathan FEIST [2:22]
4. My Darling’s Slumber – Francine TRESTER [3:07]
5. Nachtlied – Scott WHEELER [4:19]
6. Cradle Song – Kevin SIEGFRIED [3:19]
7. Descent to a Dream – Mark SMALL [4:32]
8. Lulla – for Sam – Nolan STOLZ [3:20]
9. Unfolding the Gates of Dawn – Carson COOMAN [3:53]
10. You are Alone to Sleep, Op.430 – John McDONALD [2:46]
11. Berceuse – David VAYO [7:01]
12. Disturbed, a Lullaby – David LEISNER [4:32]
13. Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times – Eric SCHWARTZ [3:50]
14. Shhh – Ryan VIGIL [5:22]

Link: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2021/Oct/New-lullaby-88801.htm

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.

Drifting in This Is Classical Guitar

The wonderful website ‘This is Classical Guitar’ run by Bradford Werner gave a wonderful shout out to ‘Volume 3 of the New Lullaby Project Drifting’ in a recent blog post. Check it out and take a listen to the free embed music. Let me know what you think!

Huge thanks to Bradford for his continued support of contemporary music and passing his great love of the guitar to people!

Drifting by Aaron Larget-Caplan

 

REVIEW – DRIFTING in The Whole Note

The Canadian classical music publication ‘The Whole Note’ has reviewed ‘Drifting’ in their latest edition!

“Another captivating addition to a significant series that continues to add miniature gems to the contemporary guitar repertoire.” – Terry Robbins

Volume 27 Issue 1 – September / October 2021https://kiosk.thewholenote.com/34

 

Album Review: Nights Transfigured, American Record Guide