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SUITE BRASILEIRA No. 3 pour guitare seule
par Sergio Assad
Mondialement connu pour le duo magistral qu’il forme depuis longtemps avec son frère Odair, Sérgio Assad est également un compositeur et arrangeur infatigable et prolifique. Principalement centrée autour de la création d’un répertoire nouveau pour duo de guitares, sa production comprend aussi de nombreuses pièces pour guitare seule, devenues des incontournables du répertoire. Dernière en date, la Suite Brasileira no 3, écrite à la demande de son dédicataire, le guitariste Thomas Viloteau, s’attache, à travers les cinq pièces qui la composent, à montrer différents aspects de la musique du Nordeste brésilien et des différents États qui en font partie. Toujours riche en trouvailles expressives, aussi bien harmoniques que rythmiques et mélodiques, elle s’ouvre par une Gantoria Nordestina, où un ostinato de mi grave ponctué d’accords en arpèges rapides descendants sert de socle à une mélodie ample en octave. La Capoeira qui suit, rythmée, avec un motif récurrent à la basse, une mélodie syncopée, des traits rapides et des passages aux différents effets percussifs, évoque l’énergie de ce mix de danse et d’art martial populaire à Bahia. Après, Coco se développe autour d’un motif mélodico-rythmique caractéristique du Nordeste, auquel se superpose une mélodie animée, entrecoupée par moments d’effets rythmiques en rasgueados étouffés. Bien plus lyrique, Cantiga de Sertao utilise un mode à quarte augmentée typique du Nordeste pour une mélodie assez calme et plutôt ample. Enfin, Gaboclinhos retrouve la vigueur d’une danse de l’État de Pernambuco, avec une mélodie animée et un motif rythmique repris dans différentes variations. Côté technique, l’ensemble se déchiffre sans trop de difficultés, l’écriture étant très guitaristique, les doigtés de Thomas Viloteau facilitant ta tâche. Quelques procédés techniques, notamment dans les percussions, demanderont une attention toute particulière pour sonner de manière vraiment convaincante, et la main droite devra se montrer très agile pour jouer au tempo demandé par les «danses». Comme souvent dans les pièces de l’auteur, l’une des difficultés sera de faire ressortir la mélodie et de hiérarchiser le discours – quand nécessaire – dans le flot fourni de notes. Une suite dans une manière propre à Sérgio Assad, ancrée dans la musique populaire brésilienne, techniquement exigeante, dans un perpétuel renouveau inventif et expressif.
- François Nicolas (Guitare classique)

CHILDREN’S BOOK (Learn & Conquer Guitar Repertoire)
par Xuefei Yang
La guitariste chinoise inaugure sa propre collection de partitions (“Learn & Conquer Guitar Repertoire with Xuefei Yang”) avec cet ouvrage adressé aux enfants. Comprenez par là qu’il conviendra aux enfants dont le niveau tourne autour de la fin de 1er cycle, voire du milieu du second. Dans sa préface, la musicienne justifie ses choix pédagogiques en vantant la musicalité des pièces sélectionnées et en évoquant le plaisir qu’elle aurait eu, enfant, à jouer lesdites musiques. Au final, le répertoire est un judicieux mélange de pièces déjà publiées par l’éditeur québécois Productions d’Oz – propriétaire des éditions DobermanYppan – où se juxtaposent les compositions de Jean-Maurice Mourat, Stephen Goss,Jean-Jacques Fimbel, Yves Carlin, Dusan Bogdanovic, Benjamin Verdery, etc. En sus, chaque pièce est accompagnée d’un petit mot (en anglais) axé autour de l’interprétation ou sur la technique. Voilà une excellente idée que d’associer un concertiste à un projet pédagogique. On attend impatiemment les prochains volumes.
- Stéphane Hudson (Guitare classique)

LOS SENTIMENTOS pour guitare seule
par Serge di Mosole
Trois pièces que l’on pourrait, en référence au titre, qualifier sans aucun doute de «sentimentales», composent ce recueil de Serge Di Mosole. Relativement courtes en n’excédant pas deux pages, elles font toutes appel, comme la première, La Amistad, à un langage harmonique aux accords enrichis pour une ambiance chaleureuse et douce. Dans Emociân, la mélodie, rythmiquement simple, est soutenue par une harmonie sur le contretemps, donnant place, en fin de sections, à de libres passages. Il faudra d’ailleurs une bonne maîtrise de la main droite et la nécessaire souplesse rythmique pour en faire ressortir le côté un peu «nonchalant». Pour Tiernamente, sorte de ballade aux jolies harmonies modulantes, une mélodie se déploie simplement au-dessus d’un arpège en croches, techniquement très abordable, mais qui demandera de faire attention à la continuité mélodique lors des démanchés et autres changements de position. Les quelques points d’interrogation, quant aux positions, que la partion pourraient causer, trouveront facilement réponse grâce aux nombreux doigtés indiqués.
- François Nicolas (Guitare classique)

SUITE ELFIQUE pour guitare seule
par José-Luiz Narváez
Avec les trois danses qui la composent, la Suite Elfique de José Luis Narváez forme une sorte d’énergique hommage à l’écrivain R. R. Tolkien. En effet, on y trouve des danses très rythmées – les indications de tempo étant Saccadé, Frénétique, Emporté – qui demanderont une certaine virtuosité pour prétendre les maîtriser aux tempos indiqués. Basses contrastées et marquées, chant dynamique et enlevé donnent une énergie parfois légère et, par moment, inquiétante tout comme les créatures évoquées. Côté technique, la Danse II demandera une précision irréprochable et un respect des articulations (legato, staccato) pas forcément évident. La Danse I, elle, nécessitera une vélocité de main droite conséquente pour ne pas perdre la pulsation lors des motifs en triples croches, sans oublier les harmoniques sur le motif de basse de la Danse III qui demanderont aussi une attention particulière. Une musique enthousiasmante et originale, pas réellement facile mais qui vaut largement la peine de s’astreindre au léger travail nécessaire.
- François Nicolas (Guitare classique)

EN LA TIERRA: Six 21st-Century Guitar Concertos (2 CDs set)
by Brian Head, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, James Smith, Martha Masters (guitars), with USC Thornton Edge, Donald Crockett conductor
“Top guitarists and ensemble bring life to adventurous program.” 
A double CD with six new concertos is quite an event. Five years in the making, this is the inspiration of the famous publishing house Doberman-Yppan and its founder, Paul Gerrits. En la Tierra, by Donald Crockett, is in one movement of several sections and is accompanied by a small chamber orchestra whose contrasting sounds add a subtle and varied background to the guitar, with the music ranging from aggressive to playful to sad, in a very modern idiom. Kaleidoscope, by Dusan Bogdanovic, is in three movements with jazz elements that immediately jump out at you, complete with note bends that sound like they have come straight from a rock guitar. Interestingly, all three movements are based on the same material, with moments of complex rhythms and advanced tonality thrown in – and the last movement is dance-like and full of animation. A Fanciful Plainte , by Brian Head, begins with exotic string chords before the guitar enters, continuing the idea. The two then carry on a complex conversation moving ideas back and forth. The music is mostly in a modern but friendly idiom, with moments of dense string layering often accompanying the soloist. CD 2 begins with Steven Gate’s three-movement Mystery of Constellation, which concerns the composer’s emotional reactions to the night sky. It is in a noticeably astringent idiom, with the orchestra often acting as a more equal partner and the writing a mixture of the contemplative and the exceedingly animated. Cuento Desde la Frontera is a new work by Simone Iannarelli that has a connection with a poem of the same name by the composer. Set in one movement, this « Tale from the Border » is less tonal than the other works and has many beautiful moments of emotive writing. The final piece, Prayers, also by Bogdanovic, is set in one movement for two guitars and orchestra. After a plaintive string opening, the two soloists continue with haunting melodies that exotically interweave, although the pace throughout remains slow. This fine pair of CDs proves how much variety there is in the modern concerto.
– Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

JAZZOTICA for solo guitar
by Jim Ferguson
“A spirited and unpredictable three-part work.”
American guitarist Jim Ferguson writes interesting music often full of jazz-styled melodies and harmonies, but also with a big touch of his own personality thrown in. Jazzotica is in three parts, beginning with a « Fast, with Feeling » first movement consisting of an opening of syncopated chords, which continues with a run around an attractive melody with changing time signatures to give it a rhythmic lift. The jazz element is there from the start, but not in an obvious way-Ferguson’s approach is more subtle and original. Some 7/8 bars provide momentum, with strummed chords and ever-changing harmonies that never go where you expect. A middle section in 5/4 briefly provides a kind of respite, until the opening ideas re-emerge and race to a coda that dies down into an anti-clirnactic close. « Slow and Delicate » is a waltz idea that again sounds fresh, with some delicious harmonic work and unusual juxtaposition of harmonies, while the final “Spirited and Constant” is completely in 4/4, with a bouncy melody surrounded by syncopations and a number of technical flights of fancy that need careful attention to get them right. The cod a begins fortissimo, with a triplet eight-note flight down the fingerboard, but again fades away unexpectedly to a quiet close on a harmonic. This is a first-class piece of writing, effortlessly individual and constantly musical and engaging. It takes a good player to do it justice, but lesser talents will also enjoy trying to wrap their heads around this fine, entertaining work. – Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine) IMMINENT LOSS for 4 guitars by Eddie Healy Written for Texas’ Collin College One O’Clock Guitar Ensemble, “Imminent Loss” opens with a punchy rhythm that builds across all four forces. Set in F-sharp minor, the time signature changes occasionally, but nothing too scary, and the harmony is dark but hypnotic rather than discordant – good use is made of the very low E-sharp to bring the music back to the tonic. This is accessible without being trite and simple, and is rather fun, with short little solo breaks that have an improvisational feel. The score is clearly marked “solo” and “tutti” for use when played by more than four guitarists. There are a variety of textures, and technically the piece is probably no more complex than about Grade Six.
– Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

QUARTET for 4 guitars
by Eddie Healy
“Quartet” in 2/2 time (with one bar in 2/4 time) is perhaps best suited to a mixed-ability ensemble, with Guitar 4 being Grade One, Guitar 3 perhaps Grade Three (on account of some fifth position work and some half barres). Guitar 2 has a little double-stopping in the lowest two positions (but is no harder), and Guitar 1 has faster notes and forays into the ninth position, but a Grade Four player would not struggle. It has a leisurely pace and some lovely, light, jazzy chords; the texture is one of smooth openness and relaxation. With the two repeats and the laid-back pace, the music lasts about two minutes, and it’s an enjoyable sound that novice players might not have seen in many of the pieces written for a modest standard.
- Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

THE BOYNE SUITE for solo guitar
by Pat Coldrick
“Waltzes and more from respected Irish guitarist-composer.”
There is much to commend here, including the beautiful, eye-catching front cover featuring an idyllic country landscape. All four of the movements which make up this suite are very well-written; the music has immediate appeal, is very playable, and easy on the ear. The opening “Reverie” is a waltz with a pretty and memorable tune. The second piece, titled “Wake Unto Me”, is a slower waltz that displays shades of the influence of Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan. A third waltz, this time with a passing nod to the music of Venezuela, and especially the music of Antonio Lauro, comes with the delightful “Serenade”. And the whole set is brought to a conclusion in grand style with Pat Coldrick’s splendid Latin-influenced “Cayendo”, a highly energetic and exciting piece of writing. The music is clearly notated and the fingering, if followed, works well. For players of the intermediate standard, this could be a little gem in their repertoire.
– Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

IN NUEVO DIA for 5 guitars
by Claudio Camisassa
“An intriguing musical portrait of daybreak.” 
Marked “misterioso”, Guitar 5 opens in A minor with a slow pizzicato bass line, joined by Guitar 4, adding sustain to the « footsteps » and two more guitars providing chords above the bass. The melody, when it enters, is sad, set over slightly dark chords, symbolizing the darkness before day. The harmonic is eerie rather than dissonant. Yet, there is movement in the tune, and as the pizzicato drops away, an increasing sense of urgency emerges, more from restless chords than from a change of pace or volume. The sun breaks through as the music is marked “romantico”, and a strong melody in A major sings out over a South American bass line and some striking natural harmonics – glorious writing with a sense of space and a refreshing texture. A return to the minor key soon follows – can this be British weather we’re writing about? Not at all; there is a cunning mixture of threes and twos and the music here is moving forward at a more brisk pace, through some luscious key changes, before finally returning to the opening theme, which is modified to conclude with a powerful ending back in the minor key. This is not a work for an inexperienced quintet, yet not too technically advanced. It’s more that each line is rhythmically independent of the others, so a certain resilience is needed that a novice ensemble might not have. In terms of complexity, Guitar 5 is probably Grade Three. Each of the parts above has its own challenges.
– Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

GNOSSIENNES AFTER ERIK SATIE for 4 guitars
by Stephen Goss
The eccentric French composer Erik Satie wrote his six Gnossiennes for piano toward the last decade of the 19th century; the word itself was invented by Satie, probably in reference to the Greek word gnosis, which is related to spiritual knowledge. Stephen Goss has taken Nos. 2, 3, and 4 of the Gnossiennes and reinvented them for four guitars, putting quite a lot of himself in these superb presentations. Although they have the Goss stamp on them, they still manage to retain the original characteristics – one acknowledges the original composer here; it is as if Satie has been brought “up to date”. The atmosphere Goss manages to cleverly instill in this “simple” music – utilizing cross-rhythms, string brushing, harmonics, and plentiful dynamic instructions – is quite astounding. In 1897, Satie’s friend, Claude Debussy, orchestrated two of the three Gymnopédies (composed by Satie just prior to his Gnossiennes) and almost as a “bonus track”, Goss has included his arrangement for guitar quartet based upon those orchestrations. Again, these are very attractive arrangements and work extremely well in this format. Both the original Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes are widely known and performed (justifiably so) and these new presentations deserve a wide audience, too. It’s likely the great man would have strongly approved of these magnificent pieces. Technically, each part is not that difficult on its own; the hard part is piecing together the four lines and producing the high musicianship required to make this music work.
– Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

LES RUES DE MARCIAC for 5 guitars
by Thierry Tisserand
Set in shuffle rhythm, this piece will quickly separate guitarists with an innate sense of rhythm and the ability to « feel the beat » from those (dare I say more “classical” players) who regard the score as a fixed list of timed jobs, and who should look away now. We’re left with those who love a bluesy, big-band saunter through the score. We’re in for some fun. Guitar 4 starts off with a jazzy little motif that invites Guitar 5 to join in an octave lower. Metallic discords, with a punchy staccato, give a clue that there’s more on the way, and it arrives, courtesy of Guitar 1, shadowed a sixth below by Guitar 2. And here is the basic orchestration – a tune and harmony line together, rich chords built by Guitars 3 and 4, and a bassline that is partly chord-based and partly a walking bassline. There are glissandi starting on the offbeat, and the mix of missing beats and lugubrious triplet quarter notes over normal quarter notes make this a feast of fun rhythms. The music – just 99 bars – has no repeats, so this runs for almost exactly three minutes at the marked metronome speed. How hard is it? It needs players who feel the beat, and if pared back to one player per part, every player has to be able to play a pizzicato solo in the finale, so it’s confidence more than ability that is needed. A mixed ability ensemble between Grade Three and Six will enjoy it.
– Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

LES DOUX INSTANTS for solo guitar
by Claude Gagnon
This is a very pretty, lyrical, composition with mostly predictable melodic and harmonic progressions, but that is not necessarily a bad attribute. The tune is romantic/sentimental and although it shifts quite high up the fingerboard, the technical standard remains within the grasp of the Grade Four player.
– Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

CHANDELIER WALTZ; SONG OF DAWN for solo guitar
by Vincent Lindsey-Clark
Vincent Lindsey-Clark has an enviable knack for generating free-flowing melodies accompanied by very guitaristic and full-sounding textures. These two pieces are representative of a series of his compositions recently issued by Les Productions d’OZ. Other titles in the series are Song of Dusk, Anglo Tango, Laura, Church on a Hill, May Dance, and Seascapes. All of them are harmonically accessible and fingerboard friendly. Chandelier Waltz is appropriately luminous and graceful, mostly in aeolian mode (A natural minor) with a few gentle harmonic adventures in the contrasting center section and in the closing. All of it falls nicely under the fingers, a pleasure to play and hear. Song of Dawn is also in waltz style, and the overall sense here is mistier, as if to suggest awakening to the half-light of early morning. Again, the performer will be entirely comfortable and find little difficulty in achieving a singing melodic line. The technical ease is not, however, to suggest that the pieces sound simplistic. They are skillfully laid out on the instrument to afford textures that sound rich and more difficult than they actually are. Of the others in the series, I found Song of Dusk, Anglo Tango, and Church on a Hill especially attractive. I was somewhat surprised that Song of Dusk was not published together with Song of Dawn, since that would seem like such a natural pairing, both musically and programmatically. 
– David Grimes (Soundboard Magazine)

GRANDMOTHER, THINK NOT I FORGET for guitar and voice
by Garth Baxter
The gentle tempo and reflective melody of Garth Baxter’s sentimental piece for guitar and voice, “Grandmother, Think Not I Forget”, present an introspective work for a very specific relationship. The lyrics are a reworking of a poem by Willa Cather in remembrance of Baxter’s wife’s grandmother. The melody is engaging with a straightforward guitar arpeggio accompaniment for the most part. Occasionally, Baxter modulates to reflect the pain of loss. The guitar is unobtrusive throughout, and the solo sections are simple arpeggio bridges back into the next verse. The piece often moves between duple and triple subdivisions, with several spots where the performers are playing two against three. The vocal range is from C4 to G5, and the vocal part is gorgeous. The piece is carefully presented with several instructions regarding dynamics, tempo, string preferences, fingerings, and barre suggestions. The piece is for an advanced beginner on guitar and a rhythmically attentive vocalist. It would be a beautiful piece to play at a funeral and would appeal to performers who had a loving, close relationship to a grandparent for stage presentation.
- David Isaacs (Soundboard Magazine)

DEU LLETRAS A N’AMELIA for solo guitar
by Gilbert Clamens
Miguel Llobet’s exquisite setting of this traditional Catalan song has long been an honored part of the guitar repertoire, and it has been played lovingly by generations of guitarists. Few, though, may have known the tragic story of the song itself. The lyrics offer the « testament » (will) of the princess Amelia, who has been poisoned by her mother (who has been having an affair with Amelia’s husband). The refrain is, “Ah, my heart is twisted like a bouquet of carnations”. Clamens’ composition here is a set of imaginative variations on the melody, doing justice to the sense of the song and presenting a very moving statement of its own. After an original introduction, the harmonic treatment of the theme is similar to that of Llobet, and this provides a suitable launching point for ten variations. Two of the variations refer to specific excerpts from the song: Variation IV is in chorale form and cites the refrain noted above, and Variation VIII is courtlier to show the nobility visiting Amelia. Variation VII is tided « Soriana » in tribute to that great Catalan composer. I found this an intriguing piece and a worthy addition to the repertoire. A few special effects (harmonics and left-hand-alone) are integrated into the textures. The technical level is fairly high but not forbidding. In addition to the introduction (in French), the text of the song is given in Catalan (from the Cancionero Catalán) and in French translation.
– David Grimes (Soundboard Magazine)

THE GOLDEN FLOWER VISITATIONS (Land that is Nowhere that is the True Home) for flute and guitar by Dusan Bogdanovic Dusan Bogdanovic’s work for flute and guitar, The Golden Flower Visitations (Land that is Nowhere that is the True Home) is dedicated to Ema Stein, who has also provided the fingerings for this Doberman-Yppan edition. The four-movement piece integrates additive rhythms, an improvisatory sensibility for embellishment and melodic writing, and a largely modal approach to harmony. The opening movement, “Improvisation” is metered but features variable subdivided groupings of the pulse in both parts within a loosely imitative context, creating a sense of freedom and spontaneity. The pitch language centers around E, with suggestions of E major, E melodic minor, and a brief passage in C mixolydian at the short movement’s point of maximum tension. The guitar part in “Lullaby” is entirely in harmonics, as the guitar lays down an otherworldly ostinato accompaniment unfolding in triplets in slow tempo. The flute plays a quasi-melismatic line above, as if lulling the listener to sleep with fluid quintuplet and sextuplet gestures. “Lullaby” remains in E melodic minor for nearly the entire movement. « Mouvement » is primarily in a driving 5/8 meter, and Bogdanovic’s playful reorientation of the division of the five beats results in an infectious and beguiling dance. The final movement, “Choral”, begins with the flute alone, playing a series of incantation-like quarter-note phrases, each ending with a thoughtful fermata. The solo guitar then imitates this texture, harmonizing similar melodic passages. A rhythmic section follows, as the incantations become more ritualistic and the music and interplay more dense. Throughout the movement, Bogdanovic retains an expansive character, as the flute climbs upward, reaching a high G# at the climactic passage. The simple quarter-note character of the beginning of the movement returns for the final phrase, with the guitar answering the flute line in direct canonic imitation. The edition is clear, suggesting fingerings when such information is called for without cluttering the entire score with redundant markings that would logically follow from the fingering of earlier notes in the passage. – Dan Lippel (Soundboard Magazine)

GIGUE for 4 guitars
by Guy Chapalain
To most people, a gigue brings to mind J.S. Bach and that constant note-mongering and mopping of brow as the notes spew in all directions. In many respects, Guy Chapalain’s “Gigue” fits the genre, but it is more jig than gigue, and the chord progressions definitely have a Celtic feel. It’s aimed at the less-experienced quartet, and most of the perspiration is going to come from Guitar 1. Set in 12/8 in E minor, but alternating between E minor and D, it instantly reminded me of the Irish jig “Brian Borouhme” though the resemblance soon passed, as the piece moves into B minor. The D shape, comprising D on string 5 and F# on string 4 with fourth and third fingers, can be a buzz-fest for a novice, but here, our composer has eased us into that shape one finger at a time. The key change moves the sense of urgency up a notch – the bass plays more notes per bar and at times all the remaining forces are playing 12 notes per bar, but there are frequent changes of texture and density that add variety. Where the notes are packed end-to-end, there are occasional slurs to relieve the sense of remorseless progress, and these are nearly always on the first two of each beam of three eighth notes, though the occasional exceptions (sometimes no slurs, sometimes eighth notes 2 and 3 slurred) make the texture slightly uneven and perhaps one or two choices could have been different. In terms of playing skills needed, “Gigue” is another mixed-ability ensemble varying between, perhaps Grade 2 down at the gruff end of the ensemble, up to Grade 5 in Guitar 1, where fret 15 is called upon.
– Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

RUMBA for 4 guitars
by Guy Chapalain
“Rumba” is a lively little piece again aimed at a less-experienced quartet and follows the same formula that Chapalain has used in other compositions at the same standard – Guitar 4 plays bass, Guitar 3 takes mainly two- and three-note chords, Guitar 1 takes the tune, and Guitar 2 takes countermelody and occasional tune. The parts enter one at a time with a compelling 3:3:2 rhythm, but rhythmically this moves the bar up a notch compared to his other compositions – many of us will know that there’s a real issue with learners playing passages that are only off the beat, never on; Guitar 3 has that load to bear. And again, Guitar 1 is playing off the top of the neck onto the body, but more arpeggio-based than scale-based, so a clear head and instinctive fingering is needed.
– Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

EVOCATION for 4 guitars
by Guy Chapalain
“Evocation” is quite a short work – the part scores are a single face of A4 and with only a short section repeated, it lasts about two minutes at the marked metronome speeds. But quantity and quality aren’t synonymous. Opening in D major with some lovely light arpeggios over a high bass and some fairly straightforward natural harmonics, this is a pretty melody with a hint of slow, jazzy chords and some G minor contrasts. Of particular appeal is the use of the third instead of the root at the bottom of the chord, giving it real depth and a sense of moving forward. The center section is in D minor at a brisk pace, almost a tango feel – a mix of long and short bass notes with Guitars 2 and 3 playing syncopated two- and three-note chords, over which a scale-like melody is woven, with the middle beat of the bar extensively suppressed. The conclusion of the piece reverts back to the open theme and the piece ends as quietly as it began. Playing ability on “Evocation” ranges from about Grade 2 on the bass line up to about Grade 4-5 on top, but just because the bass line is easy doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to play – those deep inverted chords are to die for. – Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

JAZZY for 4 guitars
by Guy Chapalain
“Jazzy” is a little more rhythmically challenging than other works in the same set, and for this reason I think it will work better as a quartet than a large ensemble, so each line merely has to keep in step bar by bar with the other lines, instead of note by note with other players playing the same line. It’s in four sharps in 4/4 time, and after two guitars welcome you in, the piece proper is up and running. Chapalain dusts off his tried-and-true formula for each guitar, as stated above about “Rumba”. This, as you might guess, is not Dixieland jazz, and neither is it that progressive free-for-all cacophony. If you think late-night easy-listening jazz-slow, dreamy, and with little bits of phrase popping up here and there-you’ll be close enough. Technically, this is somewhere between Grade 2 for the bass and Grade 4 for the top part, but knowing where the notes are isn’t the same as knowing when to play them, and you’re going to need good rhythm reading skills, or at least the ability to hear a rhythm and fix it in your head. But if that’s achieved, this is rather classy, and just far enough off the beaten track to make a great concert item. – Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

3 ARLONAISES for 4 guitars
by Norbert Leclercq
“Three unconventional pieces fit together well” These little pieces are dedicated, one each, to three different people. “Are” has a simple motif of alternating notes in common time that build into alternating chords as the parts enter. Soon, a high melody enters, and the remaining forces change speed – some faster notes, some slower bass notes. The various players each take the melodic theme, and each also takes, at a different time, the bass line and the rhythmic accompaniment. With mild dissonances throughout and with a limited sense of having a home key, this might not appeal to those whose modest technique has so far only been employed on music that is more consonant. Nonetheless, this is not a piece that jars the ear, and some of the discords that look ugly on the page are more of a gateway to a key change than they are the destination themselves. Technically, the demands are modest, but the wandering sense of key means that there are many accidentals, and the use of enharmonic equivalents might unsettle the less-experienced player.

“Lone” is in waltz-time, and again the role that each player takes varies as the piece progresses. Sometimes the writing is rhythmically uniform across the parts, and sometimes there is a greater sense of a melody being woven. With the phrases clearly marked, this is nicely under the fingers and yet some of the chords that build are open and spacious.

“Eze” in 3/8 time, is fast and busy, with bursts of four notes a second, often bringing effects that don’t often hap¬pen on solo guitar. For example, a fast scale on the major triads of Bb, C, D, E, F# moves through the keys faster than the ear can digest, pardon the strange metaphor. The joyous, bouncy feel is tempered by a real mix of chords, from light jazzy major sevenths to wide open chords that clash gently, right across to chords that have a pungent edge to them. Playing standard is between Grades 3 and 5, and the pieces lock together nicely. The harmonies will not be to everyone’s taste, but the pieces make a strong contrast to more traditional fare.
– Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

SONATE No.3 for solo guitar
by Atanas Ourkouzounov
A difficult piece rooted in the avant-garde Bulgarian contemporary guitarist/composer Atanas Ourkouzounov has earned a strong reputation throughout the guitar-playing community. The majority of his 80-plus compositions have appeared in print, and in the preface to this edition, there is an impressive list of notables who have performed and recorded his music. Sonate No. 3, dedicated to Croation guitarist Zoran Dukic, is a monumentally difficult solo guitar piece. Based firmly in the avant-garde, the three movements -“Vivo”, “Poco Rubato”, and “Presto Nervoso” – all explore the gamut of the fingerboard in an atonal flurry of notes, quite meaningless until the specified tempo is reached. Of particular interest is the middle movement with its many contrasts in tempo and mood; for me it is the high point of the work. This is a demanding work both musically and technically, and needs a player of great technical accomplishment and high musicianship to pull off in a convincing manner. However, nowadays there is a plethora of high-powered players who are more than capable of tackling this type of material, and in the right hands I’m sure this new sonata will make quite an impression on any audience.
– Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

MEDLEY No. 3 for solo guitar
by Thierry Tisserand
“Five appealing works for intermediate guitarists” Having enjoyed this composer’s first book of “Medleys”, I was really looking forward to playing through this third series, and I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed. The first book dealt with the lower range of grades, with ten relatively easy student pieces; for this one, Tisserand has raised the bar somewhat with five works well-suited to the intermediate-plus guitarist. There is a nice variety of stylistic composing here, opening with an exceedingly rhythmic calypso, which on first glance appears to be very complicated, but once the first bar is sorted out, things should fall into place for a while. “Des jours meilleurs”, which follows, is a very attractive and nostalgic piece, with a lovely tune of a pop-ballad style. “Mecha Mambo”, with its Beatles’ “Day Tripper”-style opening, is another highly energetic and rhythmic work containing some lovely chord sequences reached at the half-way point (including a brief nod to Jimi Hendrix with a particular chord). “Azur” takes the player on a melodically romantic journey, putting the hemiola (6/8 against 3/4) effect to good use. A swing-styled blues piece, “Les rues de marciac” concludes the collection in fine style. All the music is clearly presented and well-fingered. Not having seen Medley No. 2, I cannot vouch for its quality, but if these other two are anything to go by, it must certainly be worth getting hold of. Thierry Tisserand must be one of this publishing house’s most favored composers, if his presence in their catalogue is anything to go by; here’s why.
– Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

PEQUEÑA SUITE for solo guitar
by Ernesto Cordero
“A small but superb three¬movement work” This well-respected Puerto Rican composer needs no introduction to many of you. His volumes have been a mainstay of the guitar world for decades, and this small, three-movement work is the latest in a long line of fine pieces. The first movement, “El Caminante” (The Walker), has a pizzicato four-note idea that acts as the glue to which the remainder of this (short) movement is attached. After a brief few bars in A minor, it veers into D major, continuing with the four-note idea as it goes, and dies away after only 36 bars. The second movement, “Niebla” (The Frog), is longer, and begins with a run up to some pairs of fourths that become chords of fourths at the very top. The continuation is an expressive little idea with some gently exotic chords and melodies; always interesting and slightly unusual throughout. The final “Xochipilli” (an Aztec God-figure) is by far the longest and the hardest to play, beginning as it does with some off-beat triads made up, again, of fourths alternating with open bass E’s. This climaxes with a resonant 32nd-note tremolo section based on E minor chords, before a molto espressivo three-voiced idea enters by way of contrast. A few bars of artificial harmonics lead to a sudden rush of notes and a new affettuoso section in a melodic three voices before the opening idea returns one more time, and a close of a huge glissando on fourth-oriented chords and a final slap of a bottom E string marked fortissimo. This man’s music is always worth getting to know, and pequeña (small) it might be, but little in stature and musical ideas it most certainly is not. However, you do need to be a decent player to get the most out of it.
– Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

BANDA ORIENTAL for 5 guitars
by Claudio Camisassa
“Africa meets Uruguay in sometimes exhilarating piece” Subtitled “Candombe”, this celebrates African music in Uruguay, and what a fusion this is – South American oriental music for Africans, with the minimal performance indications in French. The music opens in E minor with a striking blend of 3:3:2 harmonics and a simple but effective “bongo-like” percussion. Use of slides and a mixture of fingered notes and open strings are very effective, and the rhythms are passed around like hot potatoes. By 16 bars in, everyone has been up to fret 12 and no one’s really played any bass. That comes next, and though some of the writing is spread across the forces in descending order of pitch, Guitar 5 is the jack of all trades, and uses the full compass of the guitar. After some exhilarating rhythmic work, where different rhythms are bandied, there is a move to A major and a restful adagio with rich chords and a harmony line shadowing the tune a third below. It’s not long before the initial tempo returns. Musically, I love it, [it is] a feast of exciting and accessible rhythms. And by accessible, I think Grade 6 to 7 players would have an enjoyable time working this piece up to performance level.
– Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

BEBOPOLOGY for 2 guitars
by Thierry Tisserand
“A superb, jazz-inflected piece that’s fast-paced fun” You can always rely on this composer’s music to be accessible, fun, and heavily based around jazz, Latin, or modern styles, and I am always surprised that so much of his work is still unknown, as he really is a class act. This latest duet is in one movement and has the oft-found direction for straight eighth notes to be played as if a triplet of eighth notes, where the first two are a quarter note. The clue is of course in the title, for what we have here is a bouncy, syncopated, jazz-inflected piece of some difficulty, which gets the toes tapping and the fingers flying around the guitar like they’re possessed. At a speed of 136 to 150 quarter notes a minute, and with most of the music in eighth notes or eighth-note triplets, you can tell that this is quite a handful. The two guitars take turns to play the themes, so no one gets the easy part! At 88 bars, it is only a few minutes in length, but it is a lot of fun and will take two decent guitarists who can swing to give it the finish it deserves. Less experienced players will get a lot of good practice trying to get their fingers working on this superb piece of writing.
– Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

SÉQUENCES EN “KIT”for guitar ensemble
by Luc Lévesque
“A stylistically diverse work perfect for young guitarists” Although there are no parts, each full score is two faces of A4 paper, and permission is given to make copies, and once I’ve explained what this is all about, you’ll quickly see that this is teaching material with an unusual twist. There are eight thematic phrases here, each eight bars long – eight “taster phrases”, if you like, in a wide variety of styles. Each stylist phrase is written in ensemble form comprising six or eight parts, and each line can take multiple players. In addition, each piece has two percussion parts, across a whole range of hitable things. With every guitar part in first or second position, and with a few strummed chords (all with chord diagrams), this is straightforward material that will quickly fit together. Nothing here is for performance, it’s all about capturing stylistic “signatures” in some textures that learners can quickly piece together and enjoy. The eight little “Séquences” comprise “Rasta”, with optional cabasa and cajon; “Hispanique”, with castanets and drum; “Asiatique”, with xylophone and temple blocks; “Balafon”, with maracas and djembe; “Pop Rock”, with maracas and cajon; “Saharienne”, with tambourine and doumbek; “Tango”, with cowbell and percussion; and finally, “Western”, with wood blocks and cajon. Because everything is in full score, learners can swap parts on the repeats; they can experience playing the tune, countermelody, chords, and bass and (equally importantly) can understand how it all fits together. For a school teacher, this is really a must-have, even if none of this is going to feature in a school concert. Why? These little “studies” can be put together in the classroom, rather than needing home study. The ability to enjoy spontaneous music-making is something that guitarists often miss out on, and this levels the playing field. And there’s more, too: Many of the lines can be played on recorder or similar “beginner’s instruments”, and much of the percussion can be played on the body of a guitar.
– Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

JEUX for solo guitar
by Claudio Camisassa
This ‘piece’ consists over two pages of nine musical ideas, placed and numbered in little boxes, and according to the Preface one has numerous ways that one can perform them, swap them around, play them in varying orders and many other ideas besides, all described in French at the beginning. […] »
- Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

THIS NIGHT IS A ROPE/ A LIFE OF CONSEQUENCE for solo guitar
by Eddie Healy
Here are two short pieces by an American composer / performer whose version of these two pieces you can investigate on YouTube. His style is an interesting amalgam of the modern, folk-pop influence along with many interwoven classical areas. The opening piece, with a 6th string D and a 5th string G, […] begins with eight bars of long chords marked ‘tambora’. Now, in the recording, Healy plays bars 3, 4, 7 and 8 normally, only playing tambora on 1, 2, 5 and 6; so did he change his mind, or is that a misprint? Whatever the answer, the piece then takes off with some fast arpeggiated chords that sounded a touch Genesis-like before slowing to a complex rhythmic little idea that again stops on a tambora. The arpeggio idea returns, followed by a variant of the rhythmic idea twice more before the opening tambora chords intervene followed by the Genesis-like arpeggios and a swift coda. […] The second piece is marked ‘adagio/flowing’ which was much more apt than the andante of the recording which seemed to be rushed, for played slower this piece is a real find. […] This is a haunting piece of great sadness and tenderness, and would make a fabulous piece in a concert. So the second piece did it for me, whereas the first was a little throwaway but each to his own. Whatever one may think, the second piece is worth the price of admission by itself and I would imagine this man has many more pieces where these came from.
- Chris Dumigan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

SONG WITHOUT WORDS for guitar quartet
by Mark Houghton
A particularly elegant cover design wraps around this substantial piece, which lasts about five minutes at the quoted metronome speed. We open in the key D, with Guitar Four tuned down to 6=D. The parts enter one at a time and the accompaniment lines weave an undulating yet rhythmic platform for the melody that enters high up the neck with a gently syncopated, flowing and pleasing line. But this is not the final character of the piece – the tempo steps up and the music moves from 4/4 to 3/4 and from to two sharps to two flats, under­pinned with deep resonant Eb and Ab basses. The music is divided into short sections and each provides a contrast – we move to D minor, and although the accompaniment increases in pace, the fingering is easy; although it is odd that Guitar Two is fingered in the repeat of the phrase in bar 34, not the initial assertion of the section; easily remedied with a pencil. Back to two sharps and some more lyrical melody underpinned here and there with staccato. Even now, we’re not done – back to D minor and a more waltz-like section. There is even more variety to follow – a change to triplets and then to semiquavers. Without a conductor, the final bar is going to be kill or cure … The pace stops with a six-beat note, but the final bar is a syncopated mix of quavers and semiquavers that requires excellent synchronisation. I think one of the major selling points of this piece is the high degree of sophistication that is achieved with quite modest technical demands. Sometimes a piece that sounds straightforward to the audience can be a challenge to the players, but this is the opposite, and all the better for it. This is a piece that has much to listen to, but which isn’t a trial to play. Grade 5 players will not find anything frightening here, and I think this is going to be very popular, not only for intermediate players, but also for more advanced players too. There is fingering and dynamics, and enough expression marks to make it clear how to shape the performance.
- Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

MI FAVORITA for guitar quartet
Arr. by David Gaudreau
I have a solo version of this anonymous piece, and it is interesting to compare that arrangement with the quartet that is currently open on my desk for review. The quartet is in the same pair of keys – E minor and E major. As the original solo isn’t all that hard, the initial question has to be ‘what extra does the quartet version bring?’ The straightforward answer is that there is a little extra texture and support, a little extra ornamentation, slightly fuller chords. The more subtle answer is that sharing out the workload also makes it easier to add articulation, glissandi and a sense of forward movement to the music, instead of just regarding it as a series of decorated chord shapes. In this respect, it’s not a whole lot more impressive than the solo version, but it does have a feeling of ‘drive’ and effortlessness. […] it really does come out sounding very pleasing and with phrases that are easier to shape and melody that come be brought out with a rest stroke whereas before the chords got in the way. The part scores are free from page turns, and the type setting is clear. The fingering is a little sparse but well-chosen and there are enough dynamics to help the players shape the performance. I still miss the use of position markings, only fingerings, as it’s not immediately clear where there are position shifts. Nothing is too high or too scary. In terms of playing standards, well, here’s the great news. All the lines are interesting – the bass line has little busy runs, and the other parts have a mix of melody and typically three-note arpeggios. Although the top part is a tiny bit harder, the upper parts are equally rewarding to play, and the bass line is just straightforward fun. I would think that an ensemble of Grade three or above would be able to turn this into a performable piece, and a more skilled ensemble could well enjoying playing this simply because of the interchanges between the parts. » Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

ENGLISH SERENADEfor guitar quartet by Mark Houghton DZ 2210. « Written for Luka Vlasic and the Pozega School of Music Guitar Orchestra, this is a standard quartet, and doesn’t use guitar orchestra instruments at all, so it’s readily accessible to quartets and larger ensembles. Guitar Four is tuned to 6=D and D major is the key we start in. The bass line opens with a 3:3:2 rhythm, which provides a natural platform for a melody where the middle beat of the 4/4 bar is often syncopated – moved forward with a tie. […] there is much attention to detail […], where motifs are passed from line to line, canon-like, but with a gentle treatment that supports the lyrical melodies. Care will be needed to damp that open bottom D. The texture changes – crisp, tightly articulated chords and a more urgent melody. And then we find a sudden modulation to Bb, all the while maintain­ing that tight texture. The chords are thickened with the deep bass and the pitch range at work here keeps the voices well separated. The piece essentially reflects on itself a bit, with the phrases returning in reverse order, before a final section that fades lyrically away with some charming repetition. Is it for you? The overall standard is not going to scare people away – Grade 5 guitarists would be able to piece this together very successfully – the writing gives the music a well-defined beat which will lock the parts together. Some of the harmonies are a little coarse in places – there are bars where passing notes are played along with fixed chord notes, and there’s a definite clash. But the clash is gone as soon as it arrived. […] Does the title suit the piece? That’s for you to decide! »
- Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

HABANA VIEJA for solo guitar
by Fabrice Pierrat
Habana Vieja (dedicated to Berta Rojas) is one of those pieces which grab you from the start. The opening bars set the rhythmic style for a good chunk of the piece; that is of a staccato bass line with broken chords/melody played above, the hemiola style of writing giving the work a definite South American character. There are some lovely effects throughout – sudden brief bursts of triplets; campanella moments; little melodic phrases emerging out of all the rhythmic arpeggios. This is a really engaging and delightful new work from this highly skilled French guitarist/ composer. On first readthrough the piece seems not too difficult, that is until one spots the intended tempo (dotted minim = 60) which takes it into the realm of the Intermediate-plus player but even taken at a slower speed the composition is still a nice one to play. Recommended. » Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

HOMMAGE AU SIECLE D’OR for guitar and flute/oboe/violin
by Jean-Maurice Mourat
This is a suite of ten dances written in the style of music from the Renaissance/early Baroque. French guitarist/composer Jean-Maurice Mourat has done an admirable job in not only capturing the flavour of the period but also by writing interesting and entertaining music all kept within the relatively confined technical standard of around the Intermediate level. Although the flute obviously has the lion’s share of the tunes, the guitar part does hold the interest and there are plentiful instances where it takes over this lead role; in fact the fourth ‘dance’ is a full-page guitar solo in the style of a ‘Siciliana’. The contrasting melodies and tempi are sufficient to recommend this suite to any amateur duo seeking to add to their repertoire. The edition comes with complete score and a separate part for the melody instrument. » Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

ESPERANZA for guitar and piano
by Serge di Mosole
From the opening few bars of the solo piano introduction, Esperanza has immediate appeal. This composition is of the late-night, mood music variety and when the guitar eventually joins forces with the piano part, a new dimension is added to the piece. The composition’s plaintive and imaginative melody lines plus attractive harmonies and interesting rhythmic directions all add up to a most haunting, charming new addition to the repertoire. Both instruments are on equal par from a musical interest viewpoint. The technical requirement is of around the Intermediate standard and the publication comes with a separate part for the gUitar. Altogether a lovely work from a composer I have not come across before but will be watching out for from now on.
- Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

VOUS ÊTES SOLISTE? for guitar and CD by Jean­Marie Raymond DZ 2185. To give this volume its slightly pretentious full title, ‘Jean Marie Raymond présente Vous êtes Soliste? Voici l’Orchestre Vol. 1’. It’s actually a lot more inviting than the title – a book of quite well-known classical themes, nearly all single­note, and not at all intimidating on the page. The CD contains a tuning track and then two versions of each piece – one with the guitar and one ‘Music Minus One’ without the guitar. I have to say that the sound quality on the CD is first class – so often these ventures are a mechanical computer-generated synthetic sound but this is whole­some and also expressive. The guitar part, for example, in Ave Maria, isn’t slavishly ‘to the beat’. Although only at one speed, there are of course programs such as Associated Board’s free-of-charge ‘Speed Shifter’ that would let you slow the accompaniment down if needs be. The edition comprises Bach’s Siciliano BWV 1031, a Mozart’s Viennese Sonatina, Schubert’s Ave Maria, Mendelssohn’s On Wings of Song, Albeniz’s Granada, Oskar Rieding’s Concertino in E minor, Grieg’s Morning and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The complexity varies but there’s something here for abilities between Grades 4 and 7. Since the music is nearly all Single-note, everything fits on the page without page-turns. […] a delightful book that not only gives a guitarist access to the full pitch range of the orchestra, but which will help a lot of solo guitarists become driven by their ears to follow the flow of the music, instead of being driven by their eyes and the hesitations of their fingers. Recommended […]. Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

COMME UN ROND D’EAU for guitar quartet
by Roland Dyens
This is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Tetra Guitar Quartet, and prospective purchasers can cut to the chase with two simple moves. Firstly, how hard is it? Well, be aware that the music is a showcase for Tetra’s fantastic playing ability – this is not for an average quartet. Secondly, what does it sound like? The opening section is on YouTube. It begs the question of where the rest of the video went to, and whether Tetra collapsed with the exhaustion of committing it to memory. The whole track, of course can be purchased on their CD – maybe they used the part-scores for that… This review then, is perhaps just for the relatively small number of quartets who are highly competent and enjoyed what the YouTube clip. The biography is overly long, but you will welcome two pages of explanation of most of the performance indications. You might wonder whether conclusion – with the exhortation ‘you will then pretend playing for about 5 seconds’ after the diminuendo has descended to silence is pretence or pretentious. Guitar Two is tuned to 6=D and Guitars Three and Four to 6=C, giving a wonderfully warm bass from the flesh of the thumb. […] With attention to personal time-keeping, the piece has plenty of alignment points to keep the ensemble tightly in step, though there is plenty else to think of – the mix of notes and harmonics is at times particularly demanding. Most of the rhythmic complexity is in sequencing the notes at the right instant, rather than playing overtly fast, and when it comes good, the complexity is concealed from the audience. Although ‘like a rondo’, the audience would have no easy time if they expected this to be obvious in its structure. Indeed, the piece takes us from Andante, through Poco Piu Mosso, to Jazzvalsando, Calmando, before the reprise. On the way there are episodes in 13/16 time, 5/8 time and oodles of ‘gliss’ and pizzicato. […] ».
- Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

THE PATH TO TRUTH for three guitars
by Eddie Healy
Here is yet another new edition from d’OZ, surely one of the most productive guitar publishers on the planet. In the past I have expressed doubt as to the merit of some of their publications, intimating that they seemed to be going for quantity rather than quality. That said, I have to admit that the last, relatively large batch I have received to review which have been published by them are of high quality compositions and this new composition for three guitars by the American guitarist Eddie Healy hasn’t broken this latest trend. Composed over a period of three years (2004-6), The Path to Truth has three movements: Stagnation, Irrevocably Becoming and Direction; the composer’s explanation of the work, in a nutshell, is that it is all about life’s passage and the many emotions and decisions one has to make during that journey. Each section of this piece holds the interest with many changes of character, interesting rhythms and harmonies and some appealing tunes along the way. What strikes one about these three pieces is the clarity of the writing between the three parts; obviously Eddie Healy knows the instrument well enough to make the voices ‘work’ together in a clear and well­defined manner. This composition would make for an agreeable inclusion in any formal recital; the standard required to do the work full justice is in the Advanced area. The edition comes with full score and separate parts for each player. » Steve Marsh (Classical Guitar Magazine)

TARENTELLE for guitar quartet

by Guy Chapalain
“What a fun little piece this is if you’re not an arachnophobic.”
Set in the traditional 6/8 time this is a lively dance in A minor, with an introduction marked ‘mischievous’. There is a centre section in A major, and a reprise of the opening section to finish. This piece has some nice features that would make it particularly suitable for a school environment – it is mixed ability, with Guitar Four being in first position, and Guitar One all over the neck with simple scales and slurred notes. There are imitative phrases and littie bursts where each player has a bar on their own (or in the more complex lines, considerably more). For the bulk of the piece, Guitar Four plays bass, Guitar Three plays two and three-note chords and Guitar One has the tune, often shadowed by Guitar Two, a third underneath, or taking it in turns to have a go in the limelight. The slurs are not only between adjacent notes (where the slurring is a consistent ‘first two of each set of 3 quavers’) but sometimes down to the open string from high up – another great teaching point in getting the right about of ‘pull’ without tugging the string off the neck. […] Elsewhere, the typesetting is clear and the fingerings well chosen. Fingerings are shown by finger number and by string, instead of by finger and position, which I’ve always felt, is a more intuitive way to show how to plan an upcoming shift. […] For a school concert with a mixed ability ensemble – yes, bring it on.
-  Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)

SWING for guitar quartet
by Guy Chapalain
Set in quavers, with a strong yet relaxed syncopation, there is no marking to swing or shuffle the quavers, but before you set off thinking how it goes, the indication to shuffle comes in the next section! The opening is a more reflective and leisurely ‘girding of the loins’. Guitar Four provides a sexy bassline throughout the piece and it’s not too hard, so I was surprised that this line plays the opening four bars solo, with music in two parts – that workload could have been split and would take the stress away from otherwise the ‘easy line’. With a formula that’s broadly tune, countermelody, 2&3 note chords, bass’, it suits a mixed ability ensemble. Guitar One is single note music, up as far as twelfth position, but there is a spattering of fingering where the position isn’t obvious, or where there is an ambiguity about which string the notes are to be played on. The music is in B minor and the deliciously lush F# major makes lots of appearances. Where the chords are just that little bit trickier, there is plenty of repetition, so there isn’t too much to be mastered. The downside is that there are bars where there are passing discords (A# against B, for example) because the simple building blocks don’t always fit perfectly. But these are quickly in the rearview mirror, and besides, it’s the texture and pulse that carries this piece. Without a conductor and without cue notes on the score, some of the rests are going to be hard to get right – eleven bars of rests is a long time for a learner to sit and count – cue notes are a simple way to fix this. In terms of the ability range for this piece, well, apart from the introduction, Guitar Four is Grade 2+, and we move on upwards to Guitar One which is probably about Grade 5, possibly Grade 6 as there is the need to be bombproof high up the neck, usually exactly when Guitar Two isn’t shadowing a third below. The transition for ‘unswung’ to swung (especially when the notation is apparently almost identical) might prove a challenge at first, but there’s no doubt that this is an arrangement that is going to lead to a solid sound and, at school concerts, more than a bit of a crowd-pleaser, despite the dark nature that B minor often brings. 
- Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)