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Mademoiselle Tiroloise by Weiss (PDF, Lesson)

This is Classical Guitar - 7 hours 8 min ago

Mademoiselle Tiroloise (SW28) in D Major from the London Manuscript by Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687–1750). Sheet Music and/or Tab for Classical Guitar. Comes with both a notation only edition and a notation + tab edition. Left hand fingering. PDF Download. Drop D tuning (6th string to D). Level: Late-Intermediate (Grade 7).

One of the most important Baroque lutenists and composers and a direct contemporary of Bach, we are very lucky to have the music Weiss. This is one of a few of Weiss’ easier and shorter works and transfers nicely to the guitar overall. The octave register of the bass is flexible due to the reduction from 13-course Baroque lute to 6-string modern guitar but I’ve made decisions based on the musical motifs. YouTube Lesson Link

Sheet Music and/or Tab (PDF) 

Video Performance and Lesson by Bradford 

Lute Recording by Michel Cardin

Categories: Guitar News

Napoleonian Guitar Sonatas with Pascal Valois

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 16:10

Napoleonian Guitar Sonatas
with Pascal Valois (romantic guitar) and Jacques-André Houle (violin)
Release date: January 17th, 2020
Label: Centaur Records (Louisiana)

Buy or Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, Apple, hbdirect or his website.

Great to hear this new album of solos and ensembles by Canadian guitarist Pascal Valois on romantic guitar and joined by Jacques-André Houle (violin). It’s an album filled period-specific repertoire, some of which has never been recorded. Composers include Antoine de Lhoyer (1768-1852), Louis-Ange Carpentras (1786-1854) and Alexandre Alfred Rougeon-Beauclair (?-c. 1829). Always good to see the support of the Canadian Council for the Arts for this album. Bonus points for releasing it via this YouTube Playlist.

Beautiful repertoire, charming performances, and historically interesting ensemble music make this an exciting new release. I particularly enjoyed the Lhoyer sonata with violin showcasing some excellent ensemble writing and spirited playing. The piece and performance has some sweet moments of elegance but also fire and bite. Enjoy.

Album Promo

This new album features four French romantic sonatas recorded in world premiere. These three-movement sonatas constitute a major addition to the classical guitar repertoire. They are perfect examples of the French romantic style: robust effects, melodic clarity, unexpected modulations preceded by harmonically static sections, and many dynamic contrasts. They were located at the Music Department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France by Pascal Valois between 2006 and 2008. Pascal writes:

“For this recording, I played on a French guitar built in the 1820s by the Mirecurtian luthier Cabasse-Bernard. Several French guitarists active at the turn of the 19th century praised playing without nails (with fingertips), which provides a smooth, pleasing sound. I adopted this mode of playing to interpret the repertoire of this album as it seemed perfectly adapted to the French music of the early 19th century.”

On the other hand, Pascal Valois and Jacques André Houle followed the use of musicians from the Classical and Romantic periods by improvising ornaments and cadences, as in the Adagio cantabile of Louis-Ange Carpentras’s Sonata, Op. 1.

Pascal Valois is dedicated to reviving enthusiasm for the guitar scene during the Romantic era. He performs music from the nineteenth-century repertoire by using various period instruments, ornamentation, stylistic practices of the period, as well as improvisation, which was customary in that era. He has been a soloist with many ensembles, among them Rigas’s Ensemble Samsara and Montreal’s Les Idées heureuses. He has also given masterclasses in many institutions, including the Manhattan School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory, and the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Pascal Valois has received the most renowned bursaries in Canada for guitar performance (Canada Council for the Arts) as well as Musicology (FQRSC and SSHRC).

Born in the US, violinist and violist Jacques-André Houle has been active on the Montreal music scene for over 25 years. Principal Viola of Arion Baroque Orchestra, he is also a founding member of the period-instrument Franz Joseph String Quartet, with which he has recorded four CDs on the ATMA Classique label. He is equally a member of Les Idées heureuses and the Strauss-Lanner ensemble, and enjoys performing regularly with Les Boréades and Ensemble Caprice. With the Montreal Baroque Orchestra, which he co-founded, Mr. Houle performed extensively in the Americas, Asia, and Europe both as soloist and orchestra player. Furthermore, he has performed on the viola d’amore in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under Kent Nagano, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal. As a musicologist, he has contributed articles to the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, among others, and prepares liner notes for many Classical CDs produced in Quebec and elsewhere.


Categories: Guitar News

Classical Guitar Supports: Tenuto, Gitano, Murata, Sagework, Amy’s, ErgoPlay, Cushion, GuitarLift

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 12:52

Video Timings: Why Use 0:58; Suction Cups 2:55; Gitano 4:52; Tenuto (Lite and Slim) 7:40; Amy’s 14:00, ErgoPlay 15:56; Murata 19:40; Sagework 24:16; Cushion 29:05; GuitarLift 29:35; Conclusions 30:16. You can jump via a link on the YouTube Link.

An in-depth review of classical guitar supports and rests including the footstool, Gitano Guitar Support, Tenuto Guitar Support (Lite and Slim models), Amy’s Handmade Guitar Supports, Murata Guitar Support, Sagework Magnetic Guitar Support, ErgoPlay Guitar Rest. I briefly mention The Cushion, Guitarlift but I don’t own them. I also discuss why guitar supports are useful and how to help the suction cups stick. The suction cup helpers and protectors I mention are: Kling-On Static Protectors and much cheaper Grafix ClingViynl which is working for me so far.

Also see my full review page for guitar supports.

Quick Reviews:

  • Gitano – So compact and minimal, I love mine and have used it for years.
  • Tenuto Slim – This is more adjustable and super comfortable, a new favourite.
  • Tenuto Lite – Four suction cups are better than one, not as good on my guitar.
  • Amy’s Handmade – Nice, and made of wood.
  • Ergoplay Guitar Support – A bit bulky but actually feels very good. Gravity is on your side if a suction comes off.
  • Murata – Love it, super secure. Doesn’t work on raised fingerboard guitars though.
  • Sagework – Magnets, awesome design, the best, great solution.
  • Cushion – Simple, bulky, but uncomplicated and works.
  • GuitarLift – Bulky but stylish, I don’t own one but people have said good things.
  • Footstool – Reliable and secure, classic.


Categories: Guitar News

Ara Dinkjian Plays Oud via The Met

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 10:17

First Video: Keesher Bar (Night Dance), written and performed by Ara Dinkjian. Featured oud (ūd): Manol by Emmanuel Venios (Greek, active Turkey, 1838–1915/16), Ūd, 1916, Istanbul, Turkey. Spruce, mulberry, various woods, mother-of-pearl, mastic. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Amati Gifts, 2014 (2014.522a, b).

Second Video: Gurbet O Kadar by Yildirim Gürses performed by Tamer Pinarbasi (qānūn) on the left, Ara Dinkjian (ūd) in the middle, and Glen Velez (bodhrán) on the right.

These come via The Metropolitan Museum of Art and their YouTube channel. Organized by the Department of Musical Instruments. Filmed in the The Koç Family Galleries featuring Carpets, Textiles and the Greater Ottoman World and Arts of the Ottoman Court (14th–20th centuries), on August 1, 2018. Production support was provided by The Augustine Foundation.

Categories: Guitar News

Moran Wasser Plays Bach – 11 String Guitar

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 10:25

Moran Wasser plays the Prélude from Cello Suite No.6, BWV 1012 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) on an 11 String Guitar. This comes via his YouTube channel. Just add more strings. Going from a cello work for 4 strings to an 11 string guitar is quite the arrangement but always interesting to hear the harmonic possibilities. Wasser has a number of other composers and works on his YouTube that worth checking out if you need inspiration for a new instrument! I would love to tackle some Weiss on this. Wait for his extravagant cadenzas/flourishes later on, not sure I’m 100% on board but he goes for it so thumbs up to him.

Also see a cello performance for context performed by Matt Haimovitz via CBC on YouTube.

Sheet Music for Bach on the site


Categories: Guitar News

Five Bagatelles for Guitar by Sir William Walton

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 10:38

Five Bagatelles for Guitar by English composer Sir William Walton (1902-1983) were written for Julian Bream and dedicated to Malcolm Arnold “with admiration and affection for his 50th birthday.” Julian Bream gave a complete premiere the work on Jan 21, 1973 at the Bath Festival, and recorded the works twice: once in 1973 and again in 1984. Approximate Duration 12.5 minutes. Interestingly, the second Bream recording followed Walton’s orchestration of the work as Varii Capricci, which includes some of Bream’s edits and a completely recomposed final movement. For a more in-depth comparison of the orchestral version, check out this dissertation on Five Bagatelles by William Walton: A Performance Guide Based on the Composer’s Orchestration, Varii Capricci by Marco Alejandro Villa.

Walton’s career as a composer spanned 60 years, and he wrote in a variety of classical genres and styles, including film scores and operas. Five Bagatelles is his only work for solo guitar, and one of two works that include guitar, the second being a song cycle for tenor and guitar titled Anon. in Love in six songs, written for Peter Pears and Julian Bream in 1959 (see video below).

Recommended Sheet Music

Solo Performance via Sanel Redzic on Youtube (more video below)

Orchestral Version – Here’s a recording of the orchestra arrangement which is of particular interest to hear how the composer imagined the colouration and depth of the work.

Out of Interest, here is the piece for voice and guitar, Anon. in Love: 1) Fain Would I Change That Note; 2) O Stay, Sweet Love; 3) Lady, When I Behold the Roses; 4) My Love in Her Attire; 5) I Gave Her Cakes and I Gave Her Ale; 6) To Couple Is a Custom

Also see this excellent write on the Bagatelles up by Graham Devine via this Naxos Album:

“Julian Bream was the inspiration for many of the works by British composers for the guitar. Building on the work of the great guitarist Andrés Segovia, Bream commissioned music from a number of composers with international reputations, thus creating a whole new repertoire of guitar music, which had until then belonged largely to the sound world of Spain and Latin America. At the same time Julian Bream played an important rôle in the revival of interest in the Elizabethan lute, with his recitals of solo lute music, accompaniments for singers such as Peter Pears and Robert Tear, concerts with the harpsichordist George Malcolm and the establishment of his own consort, bringing early music to a new audience.

The present recording begins with William Walton’s only piece for solo guitar, his five Bagatelles. Dedicated to Malcolm Arnold, these miniatures have won firm favour among guitarists. They were first performed by Julian Bream in 1972. When Bream had first asked him to write a piece for solo guitar, Walton had expressed some uncertainty in taking on such a task. As he later remarked, “never having thought of writing for the solo guitar I asked Julian for a fingerboard chart, which would explain what the guitar could do. I managed to write some rather pretty pieces for him except that the first six notes of the first piece all need to be played on the open strings. So when he begins to play, the audience will probably think he’s tuning the bloody thing up!”

Walton need not have worried: with its fanfare-like opening, the first Bagatelle seizes the attention at once. The first section is full of charm and wit fused with jazzy harmonies. This leads to a more melancholic midsection, where a beautiful reflective melody is set against lush accompanying chords. A return to the opening material is heard before a conclusion in triumphant style. The second Bagatelle is slightly reminiscent of Satie, with its hypnotic accompaniment set underneath a cool, breezy melody. The third of the set, entitled Alla Cubana, uses the syncopated rhythms often found in Latin-American music. The serene fourth Bagatelle leads to a virtuoso tour-de-force fifth, an exciting climax to the set.” Naxos notes 8.556040 Graham Anthony Devine

Bream Discussing the Piece – Not much new info but just nice to see him. The recorded versions of him are far better than these live ones (see below).


More Videos

Rovshan Mamedkuliev – Five Bagatelles by Walton – Amazing, fast, and crisp.

Stephanie Jones plays all Five Bagatelles by Walton – Great young player. For all five click the link, the video below is only the first one.

Bream Recording (1973)

Some great colour choices and very musical. I still love this recording, however, I do feel the increased tempos of modern players suits the fifth movement a bit better. Bream – Bagatelle No.1 // No.2 // No.3 // No.4 // No.5.


Categories: Guitar News

Lesson: Robin Hoode (Easy Anonymous Lute Work)

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 11:58

This is a lesson from my eBook: Easy Classical Guitar Pieces- Volume One – 15 Easy Songs Ranging from Renaissance to Romantic. PDF Download with Notation & Notation + TAB Edition, Fingering, Online Video Lessons for Each Piece. Approximate Grade Level: Post-Method Book to Grade 3. YouTube Lesson Link

Robin Hoode (anonymous lute work, 16th century) from the Folger Shakespeare Library MS.v.a159. A simple but charming little work. If the sixteenth notes in bar 4 are too fast for your tempo, play the first C as an eighth note and omit the B or just make the entire piece slower.

Categories: Guitar News

Lesson: Easy Greensleeves for Classical Guitar

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 11:40

This is a lesson from my eBook: Easy Classical Guitar Pieces- Volume One15 Easy Songs Ranging from Renaissance to Romantic. PDF Download with Notation & Notation + TAB Edition, Fingering, Online Video Lessons for Each Piece. Approximate Grade Level: Post-Method Book to Grade 3. YouTube Lesson Link

This is an easy anonymous lute arrangement (16th Century) From Trinity College, Dublin MS408/2 Bound with William Ballet’s Lute Book. I’ve arranged it for classical guitar but it transcribes directly over without alteration. Greensleeves is a traditional folk song and tune of England. A ballad, A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves was registered by Richard Jones at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580, and the song is found in many 16th and 17th century sources, such as Ballet’s MS Lute Book. Christmas and New Year songs and lyrics have also been associated with this tune from as early as 1686, and by the 19th century many collections of Christmas carols included some version of words and music together. One of the most popular of these songs is What Child Is This?, written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix.


Categories: Guitar News

Lesson: 4th Finger Position and Left Hand Alignment

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 12:16

A lesson for the left hand 4th finger (pinky) position and left hand alignment with common problems and solutions. I cover some general topics first and then give a tutorial on some exercises from my technique book. The four things to check: 1) Guitar Position and Posture; 2) Left Arm and Hand Position; 3) Knuckles Parallel with Fingerboard; 4) Palm close to fingerboard. Bringing that 4th finger knuckle in close to the fretboard is essential. Always play on your fingertips, with curved fingers (at each joint), and very close to the fret. This might also help with basic stretches. Here’s the Youtube Lesson Link.

The exercises are from my book Classical Guitar Technique: Essential Exercises, Scales, and Arpeggios via my sheet music store. The 122 page book includes: Practice Routines, Tips, 100 Open String Exercises, 120 Giuliani Arpeggios, Scales, Slur Exercises, Shifts, Finger Independence, Barre, Tremolo, Common Harmonics, and much more.

Find more articles at the Lesson Archive Page. For updates on free lessons, sheet music, and pro videos join the Email Newsletter.


Categories: Guitar News

Lorenzo Micheli Plays Pentecostés by Asencio

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 12:13

Italian guitarist Lorenzo Micheli plays Pentecostés from Suite Mística by Vicente Asencio (1908-1979). This comes via his fantastic YouTube channel and with audio and video by Drew Henderson. Love Micheli’s playing with his smooth, virtuosic playing with excellent phrasing and shaping. Surprisingly I couldn’t find the sheet music for this although Bèrben did publish it at some point. SheerPluck had this info though: Published in 1971 and a duration of 11’44. There are three movements: I. Getsemané; II. Dipso; III. Pentecostás. Dedication to Andrés Segovia with the premiere in Montreal, Canada, 6 March 1978: Andrés Segovia, guitar. Publisher: Bèrben.


Categories: Guitar News

Stories and Advice with Xuefei Yang

This is Classical Guitar - Sun, 01/05/2020 - 14:29

Guitarist Xuefei Yang tells us about her pre-concert routine and advice on performing in public, her craziest concert mishaps, and about her experience arranging music on classical guitar. This comes via Guitar Salon International and their YouTube channel for their series of videos called Story Time where they interview prominent guitarists to find out their most charming, curious and interesting stories. FYI, this will go under my new category on the site called Interest Articles which contain insights into the culture of classical guitar.

Categories: Guitar News

Passacaille by Robert de Visée – Free PDF

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 13:47

Passacaille in E Minor by Robert de Visée (1655-1733) – From Livre de pièces pour la guitare (Paris, 1686), Suite in E Minor. Originally for Baroque guitar . Sheet Music arranged for Classical Guitar with either a Notation Edition or TAB Edition. Left hand fingering. PDF Download. The level is Mid to Late-Intermediate (Approximately Grade 7).

Free Sheet Music Edition (Notation – Fingered)

Free Unfingered Edition

Tab Edition (PDF)

Robert de Visée (c. 1655 – 1732/1733) was a lutenist, guitarist, theorbist and viol player at the court of the French kings Louis XIV and Louis XV, as well as a singer and composer for lute, theorbo and guitar. This work is relatively easy depending on what level of ornamentation you include and the tempo you choose. A slower approach without ornamentation is relatively easy. My performance treats the repeated A section in a stable and more stately rhythmic character while letting the variations be more expressive and free. I also do a small rit and fermata at the end of each section but I’ve heard performances that are more strict with the rhythm to great success as well (see alternative video below or on post). Video Lesson Link.

  • I have replaced all repeats with double bar lines, repeat each section or just the variations.
  • All slurs are from the original tablature.
  • All ornaments are from the original but should be freely interpreted. The mordent symbol has been used to represent trills,
  • appoggiaturas, mordents, or any other type of ornament. Visee generally used one symbol for all ornaments.
  • Visee did not have a 6th string so the range has been expanded for the strummed chords, final E chord, and logical musical
  • lines that nicely fit the lower octave of the modern guitar. I generally try to leave the rest in the original octave.

Video Performances and Lessons: See the sheet music for the extensive performance notes.

Also see Patrick Kleemola’s great video. He is much more rhythmically oriented and really goes for the strums with the period guitar.

Also see Robert Strizich on Baroque guitar which I quite like as well.

Categories: Guitar News

Lesson: Accomplish Small Goals and Feel Positive When Practicing

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 13:08

Lesson: Accomplish Small Goals and Feel Positive When Practicing (YouTube Lesson Link). A lesson on how to practice music: accomplishing small goals and feeling positive when practicing. It’s all about playing well and doing something to improve each day you practice. It’s not about playing through your whole piece, it’s about making progress and accomplishing a task.

Specific Tips

  • Play Super Slow
  • Pick small destination points to make your session more manageable and easily accomplished
  • Turn it into a technique exercise to practice the issue rather than the piece itself
  • Do something or anything to improve
  • Metronome and keep turning it slower until you are playing well
  • Work musicality and all the music elements into your practice: phrasing, articulation, dynamics, legato, rhythm, form, structure etc…

A General List fo Practice Tips

Happiness in small goals: Making your practice sessions enjoyable will be key to long-term musical success and development. When experiencing difficulties, break up the piece or exercise into small manageable goals at a speed you can accomplish successfully. Even if you only play a few notes at a time, playing successfully will improve your skills and give you a feeling of accomplishment.

Isolate difficulties and solidify strengths: Balance your practice sessions by working on difficulties as well as maintaining easy material you can play well. Playing at a high quality level as often as possible will help develop a solid foundation. Work on your difficulties near the middle of your practice session and finish with something you can play well. This will ensure you end with a positive feeling of success.

Practicing is Problem Solving: Practicing is different than just playing the guitar. When you practice you need to identify problems or elements you wish to improve and solve them immediately. Simply playing the guitar will not make you a better musician. If your teacher says you should practice for 30 minutes a day, be sure you are actually practicing for 30 minutes not just playing.

Combine repetition with thoughtful practice: Although a certain amount of repetition is required to establish your skills, balance repetition with thoughtful reevaluation. Sometimes, improvement will occur by reexamining your posture, hand positions, or elements not directly connected to what you are studying. Having a qualified teacher is very helpful. They can identify problems before you repeat it a hundred times. That said, aim to be mindful at all times about what you are doing.

Good days vs bad days: Actually, I don’t believe in good or bad practice days. All days are good opportunities to practice something. On days when you are having trouble focusing or executing material cleanly, slow down your speed and use a metronome until you are playing well. You may have to play at half the speed you intended but you can still get in some quality practice.

Play slowly: I’ve rarely encountered a student who practices as slowly as I think they should. Practicing ultra slowly will ensure you are playing with your best hand positions, sound, confidence, relaxation, accuracy, and more. The majority of your practicing should be at very slow tempos. Once you can play something well at a slow tempo, you can speed it up while keeping an eye on the quality level.

Keep it simple: Even the most advanced players will perform simple pieces but will do so at a very high quality level. Quality practice helps to improve your playing so keep exercises and pieces simple enough that you can accomplish them at your highest potential. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You‘ll only improve if you set realistic and manageable goals.

Check out my Education Series

Categories: Guitar News

This is Classical Guitar 2020 – Update on the Site

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:52

Thanks to everyone who viewed and supported the site in 2019. This is an update on the past year and what’s next for This is Classical Guitar in 2020. Plus, expect more silly pictures of me playing with my fingers as above.

How’s the site doing?
  • Overall the site is going great and I’m very happy with it, especially the educational book series so far (see below). It’s become a full time job so I’m quite overworked but it’s still fun which is important.
  • Web traffic (number of visitors) is a bit down which is disappointing but subscribers to the newsletter and YouTube are WAY up so that kind of balances it out. Social media and corporations are really eating into the open web but there’s still people subscribing (share the site with your friends!). My free sheet music used to bring in a lot of traffic but I think the future is going to be in sites like Musescore, IMSLP, and other large-scale organizations which will dominate by the sheer number of people doing great work. They need a rating system though because it’s hard to know what to trust. As always, the quality of free content on the web is hit and miss so I’ll be focusing more and more on ultra high quality editions with performer notes and dedicated video lessons and performances of the pieces which is still something not many people do (surprisingly).
  • I’ve received so much positive feedback about the site this year that I’m feeling that the quality and loyalty of my subscribers is second to none. Plus, the newsletter is just packed with great people wanting a weekly dose of classical guitar. Thank you to all who follow me online.
New and Updated Stuff
  • Unfingered Scores – I want to continue to add unfingered editions in addition to the fully fingered stuff so teachers and advanced players can create their own. Just super clean scores without all the guitar markups.
  • New and Updated Lessons – I’ll be continuing to post new video lessons but also updating some old ones with better quality video
  • Micro-Tips – This is something I really want to focus on this year. Small and concise tips that zero-in on a specific topic. I want to keep the site more active with these and eventually cover a large scope of ideas from technique to practice tips.
  • Early music reading, arranging, and performance – How to read lute and early guitar tablature and music as well as period performance practice and interpretation.
  • Reviews – I’ve been so busy that there were not many reviews last year. I’m going to have a new format for reviews that will be more like micro-reviews or snapshot promos so I can streamline the process.
  • Skype or Video Lessons: I still haven’t figure out a solution to giving individuals one-on-one lessons. It’s a time constrait issue. I’ll be brainstorming up ideas though so expect something interesting and creative to appear.
Education SeriesInterest articles
  • This will be a new category on the site called Interest Articles. These will not be specific guitar lessons but more about watching and absorbing culture. The lesson page has SO much on it that it is time to create a place for stuff like this. I want a page filled with super interesting articles and videos that are not specifically lessons. For those late nights when theses nothing to do!
Friends of This is Classical Guitar & People to Follow
  • Now that the site has a larger following I feel it’s time to help expose the other great content I love and follow. From Siccas Guitars, GSI and even individual players and emerging young professionals. I want to create a way to link to them, promote them, give their videos a viewer boost and more. I’d also like to help boost the rating of great sites like Classical Guitar Corner, Open Strings Berlin, or Baros Records because I know that we can all follow more than one site. I want to help you find great stuff.
  • Look forward to it all and keep an eye on the site by subscribing to the email newsletter for updates.


Categories: Guitar News

Rob MacDonald plays In the Woods by Toru Takemitsu

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 10:44

Canadian guitarist Rob MacDonald plays In the Woods by Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996). The three movements are: Wainscot Pond; Rosedale; and Muir Woods. This comes via MacDonald’s excellent YouTube channel. Video by Drew Henderson. Excellent playing by MacDonald with clean and sensitive phrasing. Also some beautiful colouration and a calm and paced sense of time and space. I found this wonderfully worded write up by Graham Wade via this Naxos Album:

Toru Takemitsu, regarded by many in both the west and the east as the greatest Japanese composer of the twentieth century, was deeply influenced early in his career by the music of Debussy and Messiaen. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians described the characteristic elements of his mature musical language as ‘modal melodies emerging from a chromatic background, the suspension of regular metre, and an acute sensitivity to register and timbre’. We are fortunate that among his prolific output of orchestral, chamber music, film scores, and instrumental works, he also turned his attention to the intricacies of writing for the guitar, whether for solo or in an ensemble setting. The classical guitar was in many ways an ideal medium for Takemitsu, combining intense subtleties of sonority with a wide range of timbres and possibilities. Within a short time, after the writing of Folios in 1974, he was acknowledged as one of the twentieth century’s most formidable masters of writing for the guitar. He brought to the instrument a unique sensibility and an imaginative flair for its colours and expressiveness which has seldom been equalled. This recording is particularly relevant to understanding his art as it is played by Maestro Shin-ichi Fukuda, a close friend of the composer and one of Japan’s most eminent recitalists.

In the Woods (composed in hospital, November 1995, Takemitsu’s last composition before his death in February 1996), consists of three independent pieces for solo guitar, Wainscot Pond, after a painting of Cornelia Foss, dedicated to John Williams, Rosedale, dedicated to Kiyoshi Shomura, and Muir Woods, dedicated to Julian Bream. The première of Wainscot Pond, performed by Norio Sato, took place on the occasion of the funeral service for Toru Takemitsu in Tokyo on 29 February 1996. Julian Bream gave the first performance of Muir Woods in London on 4 October 1996. The work in its entirety, as well as the second piece, Rosedale, was first played by Kiyoshi Shomura in Tokyo on 15 October 1996.

As Takemitsu has commented, each title is taken from a place where there is a beautiful forest. Rosedale Woods are in Toronto, Canada, in a quiet residential area of the city where the trees are especially beautiful in the sunlight of early autumn. Muir Woods are in a suburb of San Francisco where giant sequoia trees ‘extend towards heaven in the deep forest’, which reminded the composer of the frailty of humanity in the face of nature. Takemitsu wrote Wainscot Pond after receiving a postcard from a friend showing a picturesque landscape, but confessed that he did not know where it was situated in the United States. In fact, Wainscot Pond is a lake in the Hamptons, Suffolk County, in the state of New York, some 160 kilometres from Manhattan.

Julian Bream has described Muir Woods in terms that could well apply to all three pieces: ‘The music has an undeniable valedictory quality. It is highly distilled and the texture characteristically refined. It is also music of extraordinary stillness, music that dissolves gently into silence. ’

Graham Wade via Naxos

Categories: Guitar News

Sonatina for Guitar Op.52 by Lennox Berkeley

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 12/30/2019 - 10:32

Sonatina for Guitar op.52 by Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989) – Sir Lennox Randal Francis Berkeley (1903–1989) was one of the major English composers of his time and wrote this work in 1957. It was dedicated to Julian Bream, who gave its first performance at Morley College, London, on March 9, 1958. The Sonatina is in A major with 3 movements: Allegretto; Lento; Rondo-Allegro non troppo. Berkeley also wrote Quatre pièces pour la guitare (1928) and the Theme and Variations, Op. 77 (1970).

Sheet Music via Amazon

Some more info via Naxos (Graham Devine): “In 1957 Lennox Berkeley wrote his Sonatina, Op. 52, for Julian Bream, who gave the first performance the following year. The first movement is in traditional sonata form, its lyrical opening reminiscent of English folk-song. The second movement suggests French influence, a characteristic trait of a composer of partly French ancestry and a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. It begins with a simple motif that twists and turns throughout a variety of moods, magically recalling the reflective delicacy of some of Debussy’s piano music. The final movement is in rondo form.”

Video Performances

Laura Snowden plays Lennox Berkeley Sonatina

Score Video


Bream’s first recording of the work. From the LP, “The Art of Julian Bream,” RCA Victor Red Seal, serial number LM-2448, issued 1960. Notes by Irving Kolodin. This LP represents the culmination of Bream’s first recordings in an American studio.

Tal Hurwitz Plays Sonatina for Guitar op.52 by Lennox Berkeley.

Categories: Guitar News

Olivia Chiang Plays La Pajarera by Ponce

This is Classical Guitar - Sun, 12/29/2019 - 13:27

Nineteen year old American guitarist Olivia Chiang plays La Pajarera from Tres Canciones Populares Mexicanas arranged by Manuel Ponce (1882-1948) on a Luigi Locatto guitar. This comes via the excellent Guitar Salon International via their YouTube. Great to see more videos from this amazing young guitarist. I featured her years back when she was sixteen and it’s fun to see the young generation develop via YouTube. This work has some intense left hand chord work along with a melody but she navigates it with clean changes and a well-phrased melody. Chiang is currently studying at USC Thornton Music School with Scott Tennant.

The sheet music for the Ponce can be found on Amazon: Tres Canciones Populares Mexicanas by Ponce.


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Drew Henderson Plays BWV997 by Bach

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 12/26/2019 - 10:29

Canadian guitarist Drew Henderson plays Prelude, Sarabande, Gigue, and Double from the Suite for Lute in C minor, BWV 997 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). This comes via Henderson’s excellent YouTube channel. Great playing as usual from Henderson with a balanced sense of rhythm, counterpoint, and motivic attention. This is quite a difficult suite but such a good one. The fugue is monstrous. It was likely arranged on lute- harpsichord (lautenwerk), an uncommon instrument, and so it became popularly known as a Lute Suite. Bach was familiar with lute players of the day such as Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687–1750) and so it is not inconceivable that Bach could have imagined a lute performing the work. If you read historical letters from the Baroque you can hear about Bach and Weiss having little competitions improvising fugues (that crazy). Recommended Bach sheet music editions here.


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Grade 3 Lesson: Ejercicio No. 2 by Ferrer

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 12/24/2019 - 11:09

This lesson comes from my new book Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 3 – Seven pieces at the grade three level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.

Ejercicio No. 2 from Colección 12a de Ejercicios, Op. 42 by José Ferrer (1835-1916) – YouTube Video Lesson Link – For the final piece we will study an active work that will challenge your playing skills. This piece has no barres, hinges, or different tunings, but it will be a thicker texture and will require greater finger independence and dexterity. The lesson elements here are: playing in thirds, ornaments (grace notes), and harmonics.

Ornaments (Grace Notes) – We will, for now, avoid a lengthy discussion on appoggiaturas and acciaccaturas which are types of grace notes. The main point is that these smaller notes are ornaments that decorate the primary melody note. The word acciaccatura comes from the Italian verb acciaccare, “to crush” which nicely describes how these grace notes combine with the primary melodic note on the beat. There are plenty of discussions about which notes should be played on the beat or just before the beat during different eras but for this introduction we will consider all the grace notes to be played on the beat. This will keep our rhythm and beat structure secure. The video lesson should help you imitate the sound.

Categories: Guitar News

Grade 3 Lesson: Lección No. 86 by Sagreras

This is Classical Guitar - Sun, 12/22/2019 - 11:05

This lesson comes from my new book Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 3 – Seven pieces at the grade three level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.

Lección No. 86 by Julio Sagreras (1879–1942) – YouTube Video Lesson Link – In some ways this piece is more difficult than grade 3 but if approached with care and patience it can be an excellent barre study and left hand skill builder. Without clear position changes and knowledge of the shapes, it will be difficult to navigate the chords while making the melody sing. Therefore, we will study the piece in three ways to become familiar with everything you need to know. Don’t get frustrated, instead, take it slow, stay organized, and give it time to settle into the hands. I’ve taught this piece many times and the first few weeks give students trouble, but if they take it slow it comes together and much is learned. The next grade will include pieces such as Lagrima by Tarrega so this is a good position and barre preparation for the future.

Practice in three ways – Although when you play the actual piece you will place the notes as they occur, it is helpful to organize your movements in various ways to solidify the pros and cons of each method and to learn different types of muscle memory.

  1. Play the melody on its own.
  2. Play the block chords (all the notes within a quarter note beat). This step will teach your left hand the overall chord shapes in the piece.
  3. Play the melody + bass followed by the accompaniment chord – This step will teach you to play legato from one beat to the next without disruption between each chord. It might seem redundant to write out the whole piece as I have below, but I have found that many students have difficulty with score reductions while practicing. This is similar to the last chord exercise but puts an emphasis on connecting the melody in a legato fashion. Do not place the entire chord all at once. Place your fingers on the notes as they appear on eighth notes beats: melody and bass note first, followed by the accompaniment. The measures with barres will be the exception when the first melody note is part of the barre. When you play the actual piece you should place your fingers one sixteenth note beat at a time.
Categories: Guitar News