Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

New Publication – Mystic Flute by Alan Hovhaness, Edition Peters

Latest publication: Mystic Flute by Alan Hovhaness
Now published by Edition Peters

Aaron’s 4th Publication with Edition Peters

A sweet miniature and wonderful encore, Mystic Flute was composed for solo piano in 1937. It consists of two voices: a simple melody in the harmonic minor scale balanced by an ostinato accompaniment in 7/8 meter that gives the work a hypnotic and ceremonial spirit.

The melodic line begins in the top voice, before moving to the bass voice, and returning to the top voice with small ornamentation.

PURCHASE: AmazonFaber • PrestoFicks Music

*Some offer physical scores and PDFs

As I tend to do, no notes were removed from the piano score, and all dynamic and phrase markings follow the original score as well. There are probably a couple of places where a player could adjust it more, but that is up to each of us as individuals. 

This arrangement was premiered on July 29, 2018 at the Coaster Theater in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

This is my fourth publication with Edition Peters and first that is not John Cage.

Special thanks to Gene Caprioglio, Owen Summers, and everyone at Edition Peters.

“GREAT ARRANGEMENT”
~This is Classical Guitar
(click to read)

UNBOXING VIDEO

 

Review and Photos from Heretic, a micro-opera

Concert Review: Cameron-Wolfe’s “Heretic” — As Played by Aaron Larget-Caplan

By Aaron Keebaugh

Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan managed to keep the micro-opera’s crazed figure sympathetic as he blurred the lines between reality and delusion.

Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan performing Richard Cameron-Wolfe’s micro-opera Heretic. Photo: Catherine Larget-Caplan

 

“The secret of life is learning to live with interesting questions,” Richard Cameron-Wolfe said during the post-performance talkback following the American premiere of his micro-opera Heretic at Salem State’s Callan Studio Theater last Friday. The performer and composer had made good on that claim in the compelling resonance of his composition.

In this one-person drama, the protagonist, accompanying himself on guitar, wrestles with bewildering, irresolvable issues that lead to disillusion and eventual madness. Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan managed to keep the crazed figure sympathetic as he blurred the lines between reality and delusion.

Given its challenging psychological extremes, the opera cruises through a wide range of emotions in its taut 15 minutes. Drawing on jagged musical textures as well as a disjointed monologue, the score is a journey toward a sharp and shattering gaze into the abyss. The guitarist is both hero and antihero — steeped in the craziness he is gallantly struggling to overcome, this is a journey into coming to terms with insanity.

Inspired by British writer Arthur Machen’s semi-autobiographical 1907 novel The Hill of Dreams, Heretic starts off by placing its central figure in an almost nonsensical predicament. Larget-Caplan plays a character lost in a mental fog. He ambled onto the stage, shifting his gaze about nervously. He then sat down and tore through a jarring phrase that fell somewhere between the soundscapes of Iannis Xenakis and Steve Reich. Vocal utterances entered the fray, and words were slowly formed — language which was interrupted by more waves of violent dissonance. Though it was composed with Cameron-Wolfe’s usual mathematical precision, the music in Heretic can sound personal and harrowing. The piece places listeners into Machen’s dark, dreamy world, where the overwrought senses are finding it harder and hard to discern what is true.

But, while this was an unapologetic descent into mental oblivion, Larget-Caplan’s character is no Parsifalian fool. The man has his semi-lucid moments, articulating a cultural critique in which he blamed himself and others for creating a civilization that has no love for beauty and purity. Our ideals of art, he reasoned, were no longer goals for the imagination to reach — they were artifacts of what we have lost. As he made these scathing observations, the guitarist unleashed another barrage of sound — like an atonal heavy metal riff — that framed his points with an ironic levity.

Here was a man who was driving himself to the end of his tether. Larget-Caplan’s nervous and angular movements suggested the angst of a mind that couldn’t stop churning, couldn’t stop torturing itself. At one point, the guitarist angrily bolted to the rear curtain as if to abandon his mission to think, only to be sucked back in. Heretic ends in a spirit of disquiet — with mumbled words accompanied by the sound of a guitar purposely falling out of tune. The man’s dilemma is inescapable. Caught up in a vicious cycle of grand accusations and self-absorption, he boldly embraces his disheveled mental state, all pain and no illumination.

These manic swings were well-served by Friday’s minimalist staging. Chairs were arranged in cross patterns — as much a symbol of confusion as a pragmatic choice for Larget-Caplan’s performance. Michael Harvey’s lighting and video projections conveyed an eerie aura; Jerry L. Johnson’s swift and economical stage directions never let the solipsistic action lag. The wild thorns of Cameron-Wolf’s score were well served by Larget-Caplan, whose bold and energetic presence underscored his talents as a musician and actor.

The other pieces on his hour-long program were also dedicated to introspection. Keigo Fujii’s The Legend of Hagoromo relayed a Japanese legend with cinematic flair. It is a narrative of a woman who is whisked away to heaven, where she mourns the absence of her husband and son. Her tears water a flower on earth that grows toward paradise. Father and son climb up it to visit her. Fujii’s music colorfully conveys the sadness and joys of this metaphoric meditation on death, loss, and hoped-for reunion. Larget-Caplan played the piece like the fanciful love letter it is: warm and reflective, yet coursing with frequent flamenco-like verve.

John Cage’s In a Landscape embraces greater ambiance. Larget-Caplan’s arrangement of the piano original — inspired by Erik Satie — makes use of Campanella-style playing. Harmonics are meant to ring over the regularly fingered melodic line. The difficulty in executing such complicated effects are considerable, and the guitarist’s arrangement didn’t fit snugly under the fingers. The upshot is that at times Larget-Caplan’s performance felt labored and mechanical, lacking the resonance, the distant glow, that marks the original conception.

Larget-Caplan’s arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in C Major and Vineet Shende’s Carnatic Prelude No. 1 proved more successful. His generous rubato in the Bach allowed him to revel in every shift in harmony. In the Shende — a view of Bach by way of Indian classical music — he unspooled melodies and rhythmic flourishes over drone-like resonances. It was a splendid exercise in singing tone and alert sensitivity.

When taking his bows, Larget-Caplan gestured to his guitar, happy to share the limelight with an instrument that had done its job well. Still, modesty aside, the strengths of these performances came down to Larget-Caplan, a musician of fluent technique and dramatic verve.


Aaron Keebaugh has been a classical music critic in Boston since 2012. His work has been featured in the Musical TimesCorymbus, Boston Classical ReviewEarly Music America, and BBC Radio 3. A musicologist, he teaches at North Shore Community College in both Danvers and Lynn.

God’s Time – Best of 2023!

Honored to have ‘God’s Time: Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar’ chosen as one of the Best Albums of 2023 by The Arts Fuse!

Arts Feature: Top Classical Recordings and Concerts of 2023

Read the whole article by clicking above!

Review – Spanish Candy in Take Effect

Listen to Spanish Candy

This 10th solo album from the esteemed guitarist and composer Aaron Larget-Caplan offers us Spanish and flamenco selections where he showcases his inimitable spin via the rich and mesmerizing playing.

The warm and cultured “Two Pieces”, by Isaac Albéniz, opens the listen with much charm and grace, and Esteban de Sanlúcar’s “Mantilla de Feria” follows with a more firm approach of meticulous and agile finger acrobatics.

The middle tracks belong to the swift and melodic gestures of Francisco Tárrega’s “Five Pieces”, while Albéniz’’s “Granada” finds a more intimate place to reside with its soothing and harmonic patterns.

The final track, “Espana Cani”, by Pascual Marquina” is just as intricate, where Larget-Caplan’s playful techniques touche on Spanish ideas with profound skill.

This is Larget-Caplan’s 4th time working with the multi-Grammy winner Kabir Sehgal, who helps illuminate these time honored Spanish pieces that again solidify Larget-Caplan as one of today’s most luminous guitarists.

Travels well with: Aaron Larget-CaplanHoney Cadence; Reza KhanImaginary Road

Spanish Candy • Tiger Turn, 2023

8/10

Visit Take Effect by clicking on the image.

2023 Year in Review – Adventure in Music

I am grateful for the many people who have made this year so special. At times I felt like 2023 was a normal year of music making and collaboration, and then I would be reminded that our recent past is very much with us and that the world is very fragile. 

I consider 2023 to be Adventure in Music year, and I think we have earned a bit of rest and a special cappuccino or affogato (see below) to commemorate the beauty that can exist in the world, if we so desire it.

Onward for a wonderful, safe, and healthy 2024, and thanks to all who have listened, enjoyed, and explored music with me in 2023!

Aaron

Collaborators:

  • Christopher Bush, clarinet
  • Johnathan McCullough, baritone
  • Frederic Jodry III, harpsichord
  • Robert Lehman, violin
  • Kimberly Lehman, viola
  • Rebecca Hartka, cello
  • Jeff Christmas, conductor with the Bowdoin Chamber Choir
  • Charles Coe, poet
  • Kabir Sehgal, Tiger Turn
  • Alex Fedorov, design
  • Steve Hunt, mixing and mastering
  • Gina Genova, Will Rowe, and Simon Henry Berry, American Composers Alliance
  • Gene Caprioglio, Edition Peters
  • Steve Schwartz, Your Heaven Audio
  • Michael Newman, Mannes School of Music
  • João Luiz, Hunter College
  • Tali Roth, Juilliard
  • Nick Morgan, TEDx

Premieres:

  • Alan Hovhaness – Mystic Flute, Op. 29arranged by ALC, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA, February 2023 (US premiere)
  • Daniel Felsenfeld – Only Winter Certainties on Bargemusic, Brooklyn, New York, April 2023 (info)
  • Sam Cave – …in the soft dark welling… at the Smith Center for the Arts, Providence College, September 2023
  • Nicolás Lell Benavides – Rinconcito for guitar & string trio, University of Southern Maine, December 2023 (info)

New Album & Recordings

  • Spanish Candy – May 26, 2023 on Tiger Turn (888-10) (info)
  • Berceuse Inquiète by Ronald Pearl, for the New Lullaby Project, live at Providence College (listen)

Album Reviews

Publications:

  • honey cadence – a collection of six meditations by Aaron Larget-Caplan was published by the American Composers Alliance, May 2023 (info)

Publication Review:

Awards: 

  • Paul Revere Award for Graphic Excellence from The Music Publishers Association of the United States presented for Aaron’s arrangement of Bacchanale by John Cage, June 2023 (info)
  • Cultural Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for Now Musique, Feb. 2023
  • Best of 2023 by The Arts Fuse: God’s Time: Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar, Dec. 2023 (info)
  • Reached 6-million streams!

Videos:

  • Spanish Candy intro video (watch)
  • Remembering by Laurie Spiegel, written for the New Lullaby Project (watch)
  • Libertango by Astor Piazzolla, arranged for sextet (watch)
  • Interview with Anthony R. Green (watch
  • Interview with Daniel Felsenfeld (watch)
  • TEDx – moving still by Aaron Larget-Caplan (watch

Instructional Videos:

Interviews:

Classes

Misc.

  • New press photos with photographer Paula Morin (info)
  • TEDx – moving still by Aaron Larget-Caplan (watch

REVIEW: ‘honey cadence’ Publication

Honored to have the score collection of ‘honey cadence’ featured on the awesome classical guitar resource This Is Classical Guitar!

–> https://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/honey-cadence-aaron-larget-caplan/

There is a very nice write up and a lovely video of the title track by Bradford Werner too!

If you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, click the link above and sign up. It’s worth it!

TY American Composers Alliance for a beautiful publication!

4 New Album Reviews from Canada!

4 new album reviews from Canada! 

3 album reviews in one article by JWR, a first!

Spanish Candy • John. Cage. Guitar. • God’s Time: Music of J.S. Bach!!!

THANK YOU JWR – James Wegg Review !!!

 
James Wegg Review (click to read all three reviews)
 

Listen to Aaron on SpotifyAmazonApple

Album Review – Spanish Candy – Five Stars!

SPANISH CANDY  • Fanfare

Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) • TIGER TURN 888-10 (31:58)

ALBÉNIZ Suite española No. 1, op. 47: No. 3, Sevilla. Granada (both arr. Larget-Caplan). Suite española No. 2, op. 97: No. 4, Zambra granadiana. SANLÚCAR Mantilla de Feria. TÁRREGA La Paloma. La Mariposa. Lágrima. Recuerdos de la Alhambra. MARQUINA España Cañi.

Five stars: A beautiful homage from a master guitarist to Spain. “Candy” it might be, but offered at the highest level.

Only 6 of Aaron Larget-Caplan’s 10 discs has been reviewed in Fanfare. I reviewed two of them: Honey Cadence in Fanfare 46:1, comprised of some of Larget-Caplan’s own compositions and God’s Time, a disc devoted to Larget-Caplan’s transcriptions of Bach keyboard works for guitar (47:4). This new disc, Spanish Candy is his tenth album (no flies on me for knowing this!) and celebrates his love for Spanish music and flamenco, mixing arrangements of works originally for piano with pieces for guitar. It was Spanish music that inspired Larget-Caplan as a child, so the project is clearly dear to his heart. As he says, “this music lit a flame in my heart and literally changed my life”; inevitably, Segovia was a large influence.

This is his fourth disc on Tiger Turn records (and, indeed, with successful producer Kabir Sehgal) Larget-Caplan’s trademark technical security mixed with flair and élan fits this music perfectly. He also has a long history of working with flamenco dancers in a classical-flamenco fusion via his ensemble ¡Con Fuego!.

The attractive “Zambra granadina,” the fourth and final movement of the 1888 Suite española No. 2, is deservedly popular. Larget-Caplan’s rhythmic sense is the key to the success of the reading, while his timbral excellence and variety enlivens the musical surface. The recording, close and clear, supports his every move, The more extrovert “Sevilla” (from the first Suite) speaks of blazing sunshine, propelled along by its internal rhythms. Larget-Caplan’s articulation is splendid.

Composed by flamenco guitarist Esteban De Sanlúcar (1910-89), Mantilla de Feria is a gentler beast, and here it is Larget-Caplan’s control that is so impressive, maintaining a low dynamic while projecting the spirit of dance. As he does in the habanera, La Paloma by Francisco Tárrega. The layering of bassline rhythm and sweet (and very famous) melody is exquisitely judged, the intervening registral space carrying an implicit loneliness. The next piece La Mariposa, is complex yet brief; the rather more restrained Lágrima sings a sweet song in response. Perhaps a touch more flow would have sealed the deal here: expression that works in the concert hall sometimes can feel stilted in the recording studio. No such caveats about the remarkably peaceful Recuerdos de la Alhambra (an impression helped by Larget-Caplan’s superb tremolo technique). The final offering of the five-piece Tárrega sequence is Prudent, a minor-key étude of great poignancy while maintaining its study-like demeanor.

The last piece by Albéniz follows: the serenata Granada. And what colors Larget-Caplan is able to conjure up from his guitar here! Of all the loveliness on this disc, this performance is the fairest (and if that sounds like a slender maiden, it is not by accident: there is grace galore here). Finally, Pascual Marquina Narro’s España Cañi (Gypsy Spain; the composer is better known with “Pasquina” as the surname). Larget-Caplan puts a whole lot into his performance so the listener can draw a whole lot out. Detail is brilliantly projected, while the music itself is infused with the spirit of the pasodoble.

A beautiful homage from a master guitarist to Spain. “Candy” it might be, but offered at the highest level. Recommended.  Colin Clarke

Five stars: A beautiful homage from a master guitarist to Spain. “Candy” it might be, but offered at the highest level.

This article originally appeared in Issue 47:2 (Nov/Dec 2023) of Fanfare Magazine.

Album Review – God’s Time in The Arts Fuse

Classical Album Review: “God’s Time” — Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan Plays the Music of J. S. Bach

JANUARY 26, 2023
By Jonathan Blumhofer

Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan new release is arresting for how natural the transcriptions sound: it’s as though they’d been intended for this instrumentation all along.

Read the complete review –> https://artsfuse.org/267728/classical-album-review-gods-time-guitarist-aaron-larget-caplan-plays-the-music-of-j-s-bach/ 

Then there are the performances, themselves, which are consistently graceful, transparent, and well-shaped. Textural clarity and a strong sense of direction are hallmarks of Larget-Caplan’s performance of the Prelude, Fugue, & Allegro in E-flat, while he manages to whip up quite the little tempest in the Chromatic Fantasy in D minor.

A pair of preludes from The Well-Tempered Clavier (nos. 1 and 8) flow serenely, while his arrangement of the radiant prelude to the cantata Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit – possibly the most beautiful thing Bach wrote – ought to take its place next to György Kurtág’s two-piano transcription. The D-minor “Fiddle” Prelude and Fugue is, likewise, smartly paced and cleanly voiced.

Thank you Jonathan Blumhofer and The Arts Fuse!!

REVIEW: honey cadence, Fanfare

LARGET-CAPLAN Honey Cadence.     Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr)    (Streaming audio: 22:44) https://open.spotify.com/album/67b1ttYlQrTkCFKjJxWhSX?si=Ozeob3g3TcqJXCYFo3LLLQ  also available on Amazon, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Bandcamp and Deezer

FANLINK – Streaming

This well-recorded and superbly performed album is something of a meditation on tone and variations of timbre by guitarist/composer Aaron Larget-Caplan. The composer aims at “meditative intimacy,” something we hear in similar ways in the first two tracks, Sweet Nuance and Honey Cadence. Couple this with the sense of improvization that can lead to unexpected timbral areas (the chordal passage in Honey Cadence, for example), and you get a nicely variegated soundscape.

The experience is significantly heightened by the actual quality of the recording, which exudes a sense of space that supports the meditative basis; in some ways the sound has points of contact with Apple’s “Spatial Audio” in being clear yet somehow floaty (ironicaly on Apple Music, it is only available in lossless format). Grammy-winning Kabir Sehgal is Larget-Caplan’s co-producer in this project with Larget-Caplan himself overseeing the engineering aspect. It is impressive, as it has an effect on how one experiences the music and perhaps particularly the third track, Moving Still, which is cast in a language surely influenced by Philip Glass. Too much reverb, and the effect would be too ambient, and tend too much towards “mood music”. Instead, the clarity and definition enables the music to transcend above that to a higher state, particularly with the (pardon the pun) “glassy” punctuating high treble effects later on in the piece. There is some nicely judged two-part counterpoint later on, too.

I remain unsure as to the meaning of the title of Minding Play, but musically this strikes me as one of the weaker tracks in terms of inspiration. In contrast, Hidden Anticipation offers a veritable panorama of textures and timbres while its incessant flow seems to carry the melodies ever forwards.

Rather nice, after the first track’s Sweet Nuance, to have a final track entitled Slight Nuance. It is actually one of the longer tracks, and loses its way a little while remaining true to the eminently pleasant nature of this music. The most transfixing aspect of this EP release remains Larget-Caplan’s clear guitar artistry, though. Colin Clarke

four stars: The most transfixing aspect of this EP release is Larget-Caplan’s clear guitar artistry.

*This article originally appeared in Issue 46:1 (Sept/Oct 2022) of Fanfare Magazine.

For a signed CD go to Bandcamp or contact Aaron directly

* ~1 million streams since its release in April 2022!