Aaron Larget-Caplan Presents God's Time: Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar
Arranged and performed by Aaron Larget-Caplan, Released September 28, 2022
Listen to the album now:
The reviews are in:
"A stimulating, inspiring take on Bach for all lovers of classical guitar"
"Aaron's God's Time is arresting for how natural the transcriptions sound: it’s as though they’d been intended for this instrumentation all along." – The Arts Fuse
The performances are outstanding, but I was particularly attuned to the arranging, and thought you did a great job. And you're right: the fugue in D minor is fantastic, as is the beastly chromatic fantasy. So I did really appreciate your work on this, both as performer and arranger. Well done!
– Christopher Tin, Multi-Grammy winning composer
"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, Fanfare
"One glimpse at the repertoire listed on the jacket of Aaron Larger-Caplan’s CD tells us that only the most serious artist can commit himself to such an awesome and demanding task.
No worries: he come across like a conquering hero.
– Seymour Bernstein, pianist, composer, pedagogue
"A lovely disc, beautifully recorded, and expertly played by Aaron Larget-Caplan."
"The famous C-Major Prelude is pure balm, magnificently even and harmonically cognisant. 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."
– Colin Clarke, Fanfare
This is a fascinating album, with music that ranges from the virtuosic - the Chromatic Fantasy - to the utterly beautiful title track, “God’s Time is The Very Best Time.” Each work is played with individuality, panache, and abundant ornamentation - in short, a compelling and beautifully executed album.
– Ronald Pearl, composer and professor emeritus at Loyola University Maryland
“I LOVE your Bach album!!!! Bravo Aaron, it’s a true work of art, a great accomplishment.
Bach’s music is the music of God!!!
An all-Bach album could be a very daunting undertaking. You rose to the occasion masterfully. The whole album is beautiful. I particularly enjoyed your reading of the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, a work I played for many years. There’s an authenticity in your performances. And all of your very creative ornamentation add so much. Track #6, the A minor Fugue, OMG, what version is that??? There were so many more notes in this arrangement, especially in inner voices. And you negotiated some of the trickiest passages with great skill.”
– Frederic Hand, composer-guitarist, Mannes College of Music
Larget-Caplan is a vibrant musician, and his playing shows a creative, novel approach to some well-worn pieces. – American Record Guide
Liner notes from the album:
In God’s Time, I sought an uplifting, challenging, and personal program to reveal new musical realms through my transcriptions of Bach’s keyboard music. The 16 tracks feature well-known compositions alongside rarely recorded ones.
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. I took a break from programming it 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.
Bach’s chosen musical keys typically have significance. For example, E-Flat Major (three flats) represents the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That said, Bach regularly changed keys depending on the instrumentation. Likewise, my key changes are suited for playability.
An album of renewal, the title track comes from a gorgeous early funeral cantata, bringing an uplifting solemn and hopeful mood to a somber event. May we find peace in the sounds and actions we create.
~ Aaron Larget-Caplan, August 2022
Prelude, Fugue, Allegro in E-Flat Major, BWV 998
Originally written for lautenwerk (lute-harpsichord) ― a delicate keyboard instrument Bach owned two at the time of his death, and whose sound resembled a lute―this masterwork can be described as a triptych, a math equation, or even a three-course meal. The opening Prelude conjures a regal summoning. The three-voice Fugue in its ternary form with chordal outer sections and an arpeggiated middle section stands as the central, longest movement with contemplative moments. The binary spirited Allegro returns us anew to warmer material conveying “fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Performed in D Major, inspired by the arrangements of Segovia, Ghilgia, Fisk.
• Prelude No. 1 in C Major, WTC Book 1, BWV 846
The first prelude in The Well-Tempered Clavier comprises a simple arpeggio figure; the dramatic tension only builds through harmonic change. While a moment in time, the arpeggio feels eternal. Gounod based his ‘Ave Maria’ on this prelude. I raise the octave of the last measures for an ethereal conclusion.
• Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 539 "Fiddle”, BWV 539 and BWV 539-1000
Bach wrote three versions of the “Fiddle” Fugue: violin BWV 1001 in G Minor, lute BWV 1000 in A Minor, and organ BWV 539 in D Minor. Only the violin and organ fugues include a prelude, both quite distinctive. Inspired by Julian Bream’s fugue arrangement and enthusiastically supported by harpsichordist Peter Sykes to research the organ version, I launched into my own edition. I shared my drafts with pianist Seymour Bernstein in 2013, and he warmly encouraged me to continue. Performed in A minor, the somber and lyrical Prelude derives from the organ. The exciting and relentless Fugue is a mélange of all three versions.
• God's Time Is The Very Best Time "Actus tragicus", BWV 106
While studying with Seymour Bernstein, he often stated, “Our job as musicians is to elicit emotion.” Early on, Seymour performed his piano arrangement of BWV 106. 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 (God’s time is the very best time) on Seymour’s, I keep the original key of E-Flat Major and dedicate it to him for the decades of glorious inspiration he has given his students.
• Chromatic Fantasy in D Minor, BWV 903
A tempest of turbulent emotions; anxious, overwhelming, hurried, angular. A fraught single movement with moments of terror and flashes of elation, opens with virtuosic scales and improvised arpeggios, resembling a toccata. A recitative follows before closing with extraordinary descending diminished chords. The emotional and harmonic complexity places it as one of the great Bach instrumental solos.
• Prelude No. 8 in E-Flat Minor, WTC Book 1, BWV 853
Inspired by pianist Sviatoslav Richter, with his warm and feather-like touch, I sought to make my own version, which moves through four trials of time: childhood, adulthood, old-age, afterlife.
• Six Small Preludes and A Little Fugue
A staple of piano pedagogy for 250 years, the six preludes and fugue were written during Bach’s Köthen period and found in notebooks of his students: BWV 924, 926, 930, and 934 in Twelve Little Preludes from the notebooks of his son Wilhelm Friedemann, and BWV 961 and 939 in Five Little Preludes from the Johann Peter Kellner and his circle collection. Desiring to improve my own dusty piano skills, I quickly realized many would sit beautifully on the guitar with little adjustment. My piano resurgence lasted 15 minutes.
BWV 924 – Ascending arpeggios with an ornamented bass voice lead to a descending sequence resembling an expansive and heavenly concerto cadenza.
BWV 926 – Enough material to be a sonata, but one minute in length.
BWV 961 – An unusual 12/8 two-voice fugue, emotionally nostalgic with glimmers of hope in its relentless movement forward.
BWV 930 – The two voices imitate and compete. In binary form, performed in D Minor.
BWV 934 – The clear delineation of the two voices demonstrates expanded musical ideas and makes it the most lyrical prelude presented. In binary form, performed in D Minor.
BWV 999-872 – Performed in D Minor, BWV 999’s final cadence ends on the dominant (A Major), feeling unfinished. Looking for “settlement,” I found a similar arpeggio motif in WTC Book 1, Prelude No. 3 in C Sharp Major, BWV 872. Similarly, it ends on the dominant, but has a 26-measure coda, which resolves the prelude back to the home key. I stole the coda from BWV 872, attaching it to BWV 999 for a clearer resolution.
BWV 939 – The shortest of the preludes I present as an encore. A lovely arpeggio, folowed by an ornamented sequence, finishes on the same chord the set started with.