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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Classical Guitar Music for Reading and Studying

Classical Guitar Music for Reading and Studying
William Wilson, guitar
My latest album, Classical Guitar Music for Reading and Studying, is my first "ensemble" album. To date all my albums have been mostly solo guitar, with a few additions here and there. My last four albums have been all solo playing. On the other hand Music for Reading, is all ensemble playing and includes pieces for two, three, and four guitars. All but two pieces I arranged from the original score (of the other two one was originally for two guitars and one was written for any instrument).

The album was recorded in my home studio using a new style of recording. For years I have favored condenser mics (Neumann KM 184s) which provide a squeaky clean and bright sound. I've always struggled with this. Though the clarity is good, it lacks warmth and emphasizes noises like string squeaks. Starting with my Christmas album I've been experimenting with ribbon mics. In particular the AEA R84. For that album I used two AEAs and two Neumanns (yes that's 4 mics for one guitar). For Music for Reading I used only one AEA, and I'm really liking the sound! The ribbon gives the guitar such warmth and squeaks seem to fade into the distance.

The music selections are some of my favorites from classical music repertoire. The album includes the following:

Handel Water Music: Two movements from the first suite in F and two from the second in D. I had played an arrangement of Handel's music years ago and again recently with the Encinitas Guitar Orchestra. Originally played on barges for the king they make a bold opening to the album.

Delibés Lakme: Flower Duet: One of the most famous opera duets, though I'd never heard it on guitar. I think all the running lines and parallels between the two voices work great. The first of three opera selections I included, no doubt inspired by my wife soprano Mary Ann Carr.

Selections from Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook: I've always been a big fan of Classical Guitar LPs. Recently I acquired two Segovia LPs The Intimate Guitar. He includes many of Bach's little minuets for solo guitar on them which are lovely. This inspired me to include my own version of them, but for two guitars. Also included is the Musette, to which I added some pizzicato, all are very fun.

Offenbach Tales from Hoffmann: Barcarolle: I first became acquainted with this piece from the great film La Vita é Bella though it is originally from the opera Tales from Hoffmann. It has a beautiful melody and rolls along in a 6/8 meter. A Barcarolle is a boat song so the rolling nature of it makes perfect sense. I love this melody so much I make all my young students learn it and share the original with them whenever possible. My own version is for four guitars. One for each of the original vocal parts and the orchestral part split among the other two.

Giuliani Polonaise Concertante: This is the only piece on the album that was originally for the guitar. It's a standard in guitar duo repertoire. It's very playful and fits the theme of the album perfectly I think.

Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro: "Duettino" Sull 'Aria: Yet another duet from an opera also appearing in a recent movie. This time the opera is Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and the movie was Shawshank Redemption.

Telemann Sechs Kanonische Sonaten, Sonata I:  Perhaps the funnest piece (certainly to play!) Telemann's canons consist of one line of music played in canon by two players. Think Row, row, row your boat on steroids. I included all three movements of his first sonata. It can be hard to tell but its just one melody played twice and off by one measure. And no I didn't just record myself once and copy and paste it, that would be cheating!

Beethoven Symphony No. 6: I. Allego ma non troppo I've always loved Beethoven's sixth symphony, the "Pastoral." The first movement is labeled as "'Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside." It's beautiful Beethoven without the angst.

Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: This was the piece that started the whole project. It's been recorded many times before though I haven't heard it for two guitars (That doesn't mean it hasn't been done) Hopefully my recording brings something fresh to these timeless melodies!

The album is available on iTunes / Apple Music at https://itun.es/us/MKBj- , and by the time you read this most likely on Spotify and elsewhere. Here is a sample for you to enjoy right now:

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