classical guitar, composer
"It is easy to feel an intimate connection to the ethereal beauty of Frank Wallace's compositions [for classical guitar] not only because of their individual splendor, but also because of the lush tone and sensitive perfection with which Wallace executes his music. This disc features twenty tracks of Wallace's own compositions ranging from longer multimovement works such as Quadrangle and Sweet Ladyslipper, with the hauntingly beautiful Pavane for a Dying Prince, to shorter etudes and preludes from his Sketches. Wallace's writing reveals interests in early music, American folk music, and the blues, as well as a more contemporary language. His music also clearly reflects a thorough knowledge of the guitar's repertoire; the works sound idiomatic, though never to a fault, and his harmony and counterpoint bring out some of the richest sonorities that the guitar has to offer. This recording is a must own for anyone who is interested in discovering a brilliant collection of new repertoire performed by its composer, who happens to play with equal amounts of grace, sensitivity, and virtuosity."
reviewed by Stephen Griesgraber
Guitar Review No. 121, 2001
Frank Wallace's compositions for guitar, lute and voice are the fruit of a colorful career in music that has been unlike any other of his generation of guitarists. Wallace has distinguished himself not only as a dynamic soloist and accompanist on classical and romantic guitars, but he is also recognized as a leading player of the vihuela and lute. Possibly his most astounding skill is as a master of self-accompanied song, singing and playing the solo songs of renaissance Italy and Spain, Elizabethan England and Schubert with equal attention to the subtleties of melody, words, and accompaniments. Those who know the sophistication of both the sung melodies and their accompaniments in these repertoires joke that the only way he can pull it off is that he was born with two brains. . .
Frank Wallace-his own new works (Gyre 10012), [link to Gyre] Wallace's debut recording of his own compositions, won him a 2000 Artist Fellowship grant from the Arts Council of New Hampshire. His composition for solo classical guitar, The Stubborn Oak, was published in October 2000 by Tuscany Publications and is distributed worldwide by Theodore Presser. His previous recordings can be heard on Titanic Records, Musical Heritage Society, and Centaur Records.
As an outstanding young classical guitarist from San Francisco Conservatory in the 70's, Wallace joined the guitar faculty at New England Conservatory, while also studying early music with Marleen Forsberg Montgomery. In the early 80's, he began full-time performance of medieval and renaissance music with his ensemble LiveOak and Company. He has performed at many of the leading early music festivals including Utrecht, Regensburg and Boston, and has also performed, lectured and taught at a number of Lute Society of America Seminars, the Holland Festival/Utrecht, Amherst Early Music Week and the Guitar Foundation of America Festival.
Wallace currently performs with soprano Nancy Knowles as Duo LiveOak. Their concerts span the ages from medieval to contemporary, with guitar and its ancestors, often featuring Wallace's own works and arrangements. In the summer of 2000 the duo founded the Gyre record label as a way to best represent the broad spectrum of their work.
"The new CD, Frank Wallace, his own new works, gyre 10012, by Frank Wallace is a vital and uplifting creation by an artist who has persistently focused his energies to bring audiences music that enriches life. Mr. Wallace has been performing for more than a quarter century. He is a formidable classical guitarist, as one realizes upon listening to this CD.
...[U]pon repeated hearings, it becomes clear that the purely musical values that we have here result from experiences that left a profound impression on the artist's whole being. The pieces themselves are not intended to transport listeners to different times, places or climates but I believe do share with us the sense of wonder, beauty and inspiration that the composer experienced.
...The diversity in Wallace's composition is impressive...What the music has in common is a well-developed sense of melody. This is evident in the simple monophonic Etude 7 played on a guitar by Manuel Soto y Solares of Sevilla from around 1860. It is equally evident in the elaborate contrapuntal textures found in other movements that are masterfully written and expertly played. In
fact, counterpoint is meaningless if melody is weak. It is the strength of Wallace's melodies in both content and rendering that
make this CD a joy for this reviewer.
I believe that all guitarists need to be aware of Frank Wallace's compositions...Frank Wallace is emerging as a performer and composer who is creating music of substance and beauty. We are fortunate to witness this creative process. Add this CD to your collection and enjoy it often."
Boston Classical Guitar Society Newsletter
All of the music is in various ways delightful... [Wallace] makes a persuasive case for the music and the instrument by playing with skill, style, and fantasy.
The Boston Globe
The concert by Frank Wallace was a veritable tour de force; apart from solos for the vihuela, he sang and played at the same time in works by the 16th century vihuelistas.
Classical Guitar (London)
Wallace excels; he exhibits great sensitivity to the music and brings finesse to the subtleties of phrasing, dynamics, and tempo.
Frank Wallace displayed the vihuela both as solo and as accompaniment to his own intimate, sweet singing, then, after intermission, leapt four centuries ahead to "real" guitar music-compellingly played-of Albeniz and Mompou.
The Boston Globe
[Their] eloquence could not have been improved upon...the baritone Frank Wallace, in the final song by the troubadour Riquier, captured the pain of an older man looking about at a fraudulent world to which he has "come too late".
The New York Times
...one of the best vihuelists working today...Wallace also sings...no mean feat when one considers the polyphonic nature of the vihuela accompaniments... His renditions of fantasías by Narváez, other instrumental works, and song accompaniments are exemplary, bringing the kind of polish to the music that must have been prized in the Spanish noble houses.
American Record Guide
Wallace shows a strong feeling for the sound and natural shape of the music. As a practitioner of the rare art of self-accompaniment, Wallace is easily able to link his vihuela accompaniments to the flow of his vocal phrasing.
His playing...is vivid and bright, but with soft inward-looking colors. His singing is robustly dramatic and clear, but armed with an ability to subtly convey the most complex and private of human emotions.
The Tech (MIT)
It is extremely unusual to listen to a self-accompanying singer--or a singing vihuelist; it is difficult to define which is the case since Mr. Wallace seems equally adroit at both skills...I cannot but congratulate Mr. Wallace for infusing new life into this neglected art.
[He] plays these [solo] pieces with a secure and confident technique, and with a clear and bright sound. [His] playing displays a sense of directness and immediacy...00conveying to the listener his own enthusiasm and enjoyment with conviction and sincerity. Mr. Wallace performs the songs with evident relish and gusto; his voice is warm and expressive and his accompaniment is nicely
balanced, allowing the listener to discern the polyphonic interplay between the vihuela and voice. His attention to the text is also commendable: one can perceive that he is involved with the story he is telling, and takes care to convey it...This is Mr. Wallace's debut solo recording, and I believe he has done a remarkable job...According to the Mexican proverb, the best praise for the cook is to ask for another helping. Mr. Wallace, could we have more?
Lute Society of America Quarterly
Frank Wallace is very much at his ease here, and his joy in the literature is easy to glean from his impassioned approach...the breathtaking confections which he performs on the vihuela-these rapturous meditations, which Wallace delivers with deep appreciation, seem to me unsurpassed in early music for plucked string.
Boston Early Music News
The instrumental selections are attractive and well played. The songs include some elights...Wallace's diction is superb and his singing is expressive...an accomplished recording which will bring much pleasure to lovers of the Renaissance.
Wallace's performances are elegant and refined. He has a pleasing voice and faultless intonation.
[The] intabulations are finely crafted and beautifully executed.
J. Evan Kreider
Early Music Vancouver
Frank Wallace has a rich and agile baritone with a falsetto extension that carries him without break into an alto's range. He is also a skilled instrumentalist, whether accompanying himself or others...
Frank Wallace plays his early-style guitars and the lute in intricate embellishment or romantic directness with ease, and uses his warm baritone with fascinating virtuosity...subtle nuances of tone, color and volume, always sure of a high spun pianissimo, a dramatic burst, or resounding dip to his fine deepest range.
Salem Evening News (MA)
Frank Wallace his own new works vol. I
Gyre CD 10012 released July 2000
Frank--As I close the books on this year, I realized that I never got around to thanking you for your CD, which I've been enjoying thoroughly. As I'm sure you know the library copy has hit our air many times, and it's always a pleasure to hear it.
Leslie Warshaw WGBH radio
Great CD! Beautiful sound and work. Bravo! I need to say that I liked the most the "Quadrangle". A very nice piece!
Apostolos Paraskevas composer/guitarist
The CD is excellent. I liked it very much. Personally, I think it's one of the most original guitar CDs I have heard in many years.
Tim Miklaucic Guitar Salon International
The playing is exceptional and the music equally good. I particularly liked Sweet Lady Slipper and Quadrangle.
Richard Provost Hartt School of Music
[H]ow wonderful your new CD is! It is great to hear you as an individual artist; not just Frank the early musician, but really your music. You play with such sensitivity and patience...I can see you falling in love with the music as it comes off the strings. Your compositions are sophisticated, yet personable, and merge jazz, early music, and a modern sound. You should be proud. It makes me inspired to play and be an artist myself. Keep up the great work, and remember you've brought me inspiration to follow my
dream in so many ways, and this adds to all of them.
Dan Marcotte lutenist/singer
They [your works] are all quite wonderful, and it was a sheer delight to hear them.
Marilyn Ziffrin composer
I love your CD! Beautiful compositions and a great feel and sound.
Louis Arnold guitarist
What a joy to listen to! I recognize quite a few of the pieces from times in the past I heard you playing them, and that adds special meaning for me. As you thought, Sue and I do love it, and yes, your music does bring tears to our eyes. I didn't realize that you had put together a CD like this, of your own new works. I'm so glad that you have, and I hope that it will be a great boost
for promoting your own work. Congratulations for the State Council Fellowship award for composition! That's wonderful.
He plays--he sings--he writes--he records--all on a high level. You know, of course, that you're making the rest of us look like slackers. I like the CD (that ws an understatement). I particularly liked the sound you get on Etude #7 and the wonderful intricacies of the Fugue.
Joe Mays guitarist
Frank, I've been enjoying your new CD and marvel not only at your medieval/renaissance troubadourian skills, but also that you're an able composer. (The tolling bell in The Shadow of the Church is wonderfully evocative.) I anticipate listening again and again to your compositions.
And by the way, I LOVE your CD as well. It took me by surprise. So much really fine stuff on it. I've listened many times. Maybe later I'll ask you for some scores... Congratulations. Excellent work!
Kenny Hill luthier, guitarist
I'm thoroughly enjoying the CD...It's what I listen to when I return from my nightly beach walks and meditation. It's food for my soul.Thanks so much. Selfishly, I sincerely hope you keep getting grants so you can keep creating such wonderful works!!
Judy Rigmont NH Arts Council
The pieces, the playing and the sound are all beautiful. Bravo.
Allen Krantz guitarist/composer
I have been enjoying your new CD immensely. I love all your pieces and have been inspired to dig out my copy of From the Windy Place and start looking at it myself. And I was very moved by your tribute to John Fleagle who I got to know some years ago - I was always immensely impressed by his gifts.
Mark Davis guitarist