Another title for this album could be Mostly Easy Guitar. (Many guitarists have bought my CD, Easy Guitar, and have shown great interest in this issue!) It begins with a number of beautiful, but easy-to-play pieces of Fernando Sor.
The primarily lydian piece of Mexican composer Manuel Ponce while not of great technical difficulty, creates some challenges in a mood of wonderment. Thanks to Pythagoras and the Greeks!
Spanish vihuela music of Gaspar Sanz follows. Most of his pieces on this CD are suitable for guitarists who like to play pieces which can be read from the scores for presentations less formal than concert situations. I can not describe the music of Gaspar Sanz as anything but uplifting, just as are my memories of life in Spain and the wonderful people I had the opportunity of meeting there.
Frances Pilkington's courant gives pause for thought... I used to play in a friend's bookstore from time to time and I clearly recall talking with him about William Byrd and his piece, The Earl of Salisbury one hot afternoon. Several days later, I was told my friend had passed away. Now, I always find the title of this easy piece as a fitting frame of reference for my memories of him. I suppose it is easy for me to imagine him as Earl of Salisbury.
José Luís Gonzales, a Spanish guitarist from Alcoy, Spain who I briefly studied with and who also recently passed away, loved to play the study by Guiliani. I recall how much fun he seemed to have each time he played it.
In college I listened to the Planets by Gustav Holst over and over again. There is one movement of the Planets that is also called Jupiter's Theme. Although I left out the Spanish paraphrases in the orchestral version, I play the theme of the planet Jupiter with a short section of tremelo that is not difficult to master which is my attempt to echo the legatto of the strings that build to a climax in the orchestral version.
Thanks to Ruhei Kobayashi, of the Conservatory Antonio Neumann of Guayaquil, Ecuador, one of my favorite pieces by François Couperin is part of this album: Les Barricades Mistérieuses. It presents many technical challenges such as left hand fingerings and unsustainable notes which are well worth the effort. Unfortunately, the original key remains out of my reach. My transcritpion, a whole step higher than the original, is in the key of C.
In his look back to ancient Greek times, Erik Satie gave guitarists these beautifully contemplative pieces that are well-know transcriptions for guitar.
Jorge Cardoso's transcription is one of many available of the next piece. Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth gives us one last dance before we drift with Angel's Reflection...
For an introduction to Georges I. Gurdjieff, I recommend reading the book In Search of the Miraculous, by P.D. Ousspensky. The events and context of the book are set in another time and place. While times have changed, I would like to think that certain immutable principles have not changed any more, perhaps, than the Pyramid of Cheops or the Sphinx at Giza. Thus, Crystal Lanterns - Amber Streams.
My sincere thanks to my friend Robert Jackson who was kind enough to take the photo that appears on the cover of Crystal Lanterns - Amber Streams. While nothing could do justice to the spectacular experiences of Egypt, the desert and the middle eastern region, this photo does provide a hint.
While in Spain, I attended many superb concerts and one in particular was pivotal. A performance given by the Egyptian National Orchestra in Alcoy opened my ears more fully again to world music, just as had the Ravi Shankar concert several years earlier at Berklee College of Music. Revived then was my memory of an informal preformance of music of the vino by a professor of Urdu at Harvard. I had spoken to him about his performance and music as it related to literature of the region and he indicated that a knowledge of one of the languages in question would be required to carry out any meaningful investigation. It was as Gurdjieff had alluded years before that languages would be necessary for any meaningful journey... and thus, the recording Crystal Lanterns-Amber Streams. Language and music have taken me to Spain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Malaysia where I have lived and traveled extensively on this journey.
Angels' Reflection is my attempt to transcribe a dream I had in which there was music. It was as if there had been an orchestra of harps spilt into several plateaus, some rising and others descending. The instruments were lyres, but the sound was too powerful for such small instruments to produce. Thus, transcription to guitar seemed appropriate as a tribute to Villa-Lobos and to the characters in my dream. It was during this period that I was immersed in the study of guitar and a time when I often listened to Holst's Planets.
The first track, a study in Carcassi's method book attributed to A.S./Sor, was the first piece that I played on a classical guitar. It has always intrigued me, and I have noticed that very young children sometimes dance when they hear it.