REVIEW: God’s Time – 5 Stars!

Five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ : A lovely disc, beautifully recorded, and expertly played by Aaron Larget-Caplan. Recommended

Colin Clarke, Fanfare • STREAM GOD’S TIME HERE

Entitled “God’s Time,” this is a charming and expertly performed disc of Bach on the guitar. All arrangements, each equally expertly handled, are by the present guitarist, Aaron Larget-Caplan. Although this is Larget-Caplan’s first all-Bach disc, it is his ninth in total. Previous releases include a disc of music by Cage (Larget-Caplan’s arrangements were the first to be authorized by the Cage Estate) and a sequence of discs entitled the “New Lullaby Project”.

The title of this disc, “God’s Time,” comes from the Bach’s early funerary cantata, In Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106 (God’s Own Time is the Very Best of Times), a piece also known as the “Actus Tragicus”, not a piece heard very often, and most recently in my experience by Vox Luminis directed by Lionel Meunier at St John’s, Smith Square in London as part of the 2022 Easter Festival in a terrific performance. The piece itself contrasts the weight of carrying death with the serenity that is ostensibly held within that state. The transcription here is most effective, although obviously one loses the unforgettably mournful sound of the pair of alto recorders.

While most of the works presented here are usually associated with keyboard of some description, the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat-Major, BWV 998 was composed for “Lautenwerck” (to use its more usually accepted spelling), a harpsichord-like instrument but with gut strings. Larget-Caplan opts to transpose the piece into a more guitar-friendly D-Major, his arrangements, he says, inspired by those of Eliot Fisk, Segovia , and Oscar Ghiglia and is supremely well managed, not least in the Fugue, where linear clarity is achieved at all times with no loss in momentum and no interruption to rhythms; the final Allegro is very clearly a dance, its bass-lines crystal clear and grounding.

The famous C-Major Prelude is pure balm, magnificently even and harmonically cognisant. As for the Prelude and Fugue in D-Minor, BWV 529 (which has sometimes been considered as spurious), The Fugue is based on the second movement of the Sonata for Solo Violin, BWV 1001. There is a touching simplicity to the Prelude that contrasts with the rigor of the Fugue, and again it is Larget-Caplan’s technique that allows for the requisite rhythmic flow. The voice-leading is beautifully realized.

The Chromatic Fantasy must be one of the better known of the works here. The arrangement sounds fiendishly difficult, Larget-Caplan allows us to feel both the drama and the modernity of this piece. In contrast, the E flat-Minor Prelude from Book One of the WTC is a meditation. It transcribes supremely well for guitar, particularly when one has as fine a trill as Larget-Caplan’s.

While Larget-Caplan describes the final seven tracks as essentially keyboard studies but approached as guitar miniatures, the sequence of two Preludes plus a Fugue implies its own microcosm, the calmer C-Major Prelude (BWV 924) ceding to the fiendish D-Minor (BWV 926), before the fascinating Fugue in C-Minor, BWV 961. This is a fugue in two voices, its movement beautifully sustained here. Larget-Caplan sees the relentless tread as a reason for optimism, and who am I to argue?

A sequence of “Little Preludes” works well as a final group, with a further C-Major, BWV 939 offered in the manner of an encore. The last of that group, a C-Minor Prelude, is listed as “BWV 999-872″: the primary number is 999, but it ends inconclusively, so Larget-Caplan has somewhat ingeniously added the coda from BWV 872 (WTC Book I, the Prelude in C sharp-Minor). It feels very satisfying. Similarly, the “encore” of BWV 939 works because it brings us to a sense of sated peace.

A lovely disc, beautifully recorded, and expertly played by Aaron Larget-Caplan. Recommended. Colin Clarke

BACH Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in ET, BWV 998. Das Wohltemperierte Clavier: Prelude in C, BWV 846; Prelude in eT, BWV 853. Prelude and Fugue in d, BWV 529. Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106, “Actus Tragicus”: Scnatina. Chromatic Fantasia in d, BWV 903. Little Preludes: d, BWV 926; No. 11 in g, BWV 930; c, BWV 934; C, BWV 939; c, BWV 999. Fugue in C, BWV 961 (all arrs. Larget-Caplan)    Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr)  TIGER TURN 888-09 (streaming audio: 48:54)  Available on all streaming platforms, with physical copies available from Bandcamp STREAM GOD’S TIME HERE

 

 

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