Tariq Harb performs the 36 Caprices Op. 20 by Luigi Legnani (1790–1877). This comes via Harb’s fantastic YouTube Channel. Harb is in the process of recording all of the Caprices so go subscribe to his channel to see the rest as they are posted. I’ll also update this page as he goes. I wrote him saying that he was freaking me out with how fast and well he’s presenting these works. He mentioned that he might be making educational lessons for them and putting out an edition so we can all look forward to that in the future. Bonus points for the Douglass Scott guitar!
Here’s a little info on the caprices via this Naxos. “The Thirty-Six Caprices for guitar, Op. 20, may have been inspired by Paganini’s Twenty-four Caprices for violin, Op. 1…Like Paganini’s Capricci, Legnani’s are alternately dramatic, expressive, or brilliant as the composer explores most of the textures possible on his instrument. As an unusual feature, Legnani’s Thirty-six capricci also include pieces in twenty-two different keys; only C# minor and G# minor are missing….In part because Legnani’s Capricci venture into this unexplored territory, they have become classics of guitar pedagogy, constantly in print since their introduction. But the transcendent technical difficulties which some or the Capricci consequently present also explain why all but a few or these works, in spite of their unquestionable pedagogical and musical value, are rarely recorded or heard in concert.”The post Tariq Harb Plays Legnani Caprices first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Nocturne Op.4, No.3 Maestoso-Vivace by Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856) – This performance and lesson comes from my book Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 6 – Five pieces at the grade six level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.
Jump to a section: Intro (3:33), Arpeggios (5:40), Bars 11 & 19-21 (9:57), Walk-Through (13:58).
There are no new techniques to learn for this Nocturne (night music). It’s also not a particularly difficult piece when played at a slow tempo. However, once you approach faster tempos for the Vivace (fast) section you may find this piece a good challenge. The introduction is marked as Maestoso which is an indication to play in stately, dignified, or majestic fashion. You can play this with a relatively slow tempo but fast enough to keep the phrase moving forward. Add a little rubato, a push and pull to the rhythm, for expressive effect. When you reach the vivace section, aim for a steady and fast dance feel of two beats per bar. More musical ideas will be covered in the video lesson. There are a few triadic arpeggios in this work which can serve as an excellent technique preparation for arpeggios, shifts, and jumps across the fretboard. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to watch it there.The post Lesson: Nocturne Op.4, No.3 by Mertz first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Peter Graneis plays Pièce en forme de Passacaille by Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986). This comes via Siccas Guitars and their great YouTube channel. I’ve featured Graneis a few times before and appreciate his musical energy and careful attention to motifs and articulations throughout the compositions he performs. Tansman is great and we are lucky to have the handful of guitar works from the renown Polish composer. There’s a nice write up on this piece by Frédéric Zigante via this Naxos:
Pièce en forme de passacaille, written in 1953, is a broadranging composition which was recently discovered after almost 50 years of oblivion in the archives of the Segovia Foundation. It is based on an ostinato and ten variations, which is then re-proposed six more times in an instrumentally complex fugato. This masterful composition is a perfect synthesis of the solemnity of the Baroque style and the subtly flexible harmony—alternately mobile and static—of Tansman’s music. Starting with the exposition of the bass ostinato, the composition uses a bass D sharp which obliges the performer to tune the sixth string in D, even though the piece is in E minor: the scordatura, which is, in itself, customary, seemed tonally unorthodox to Segovia and he therefore decided not to perform it. Above and beyond the appearances, this is one of Tansman’s few guitar compositions in which he paid evident attention to the piece’s effective performability: its sound is clear and spontaneous and few adjustments are needed for its correct execution. The Passacaille also represents one of Tansman’s few concessions to a typical effect of the guitar, the tremolo, which is used here as a dramatic, expressive resource and not, as is usually the case, as a purely ornamental effect.The post Peter Graneis Plays Passacaille by Tansman first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
I had a great time doing this interview for Matthew McAllister‘s excellent Gallery of Guitar YouTube channel. Go subscribe now because he’ll be interview and featuring more players and community members in his series! You can watch the performance or interview on Youtube if your prefer.
It was a fun talk and we discuss a lot of ideas related to music, my site, distance learning, and life. The piece I played for his channel is French Chanson Le Plus Gorgias Du Monde (Anon) in a setting by Francesco Canova da Milano (1497–1543) in an exclusive performance made for his Gallery of Guitar YouTube channel.The post Interview and Performance for Matthew McAllister’s Gallery of Guitar first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Times & Questions
- 0:55 – Reaching Higher Levels (Ralph)
- 4:52 – Studying other genres of music (John)
- 8:35 – Repertoire Maintenance and Practice (Ernesto/Hayes)
- 13:58 – How to approach a new piece (Karen)
- 17:58 – Recording your practice to learn (Walt)
Here are some extra resources related to the questions
- How to Practice Music and Organize Your Practice Session
- Lesson: Practicing Difficult Passages in Music
- Practicing Technique Through Your Repertoire
- Accomplish Small Goals and Feel Positive When Practicing
- The Gap Between Good Taste and Being Able to Do Good Work
- McAllister Vlog Lessons: Work through adversity
Here’s the YouTube video link if you want to watch it there.The post Q&A Lesson: Practicing Music & Reaching Higher Levels first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Great to hear this new album of solo works played by Canadian guitarist Pascal Valois on a Romantic guitar by Cabasse-Bernard (c.1820). Composers include Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) and Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). It’s filled with some of the great Italian guitarist/composers of the early Romantic era and an excellent larger form sonata by Giuliani. You should also check out Valois’s other album of Napoleonian Guitar Sonatas that show his continuing interest in the era. I love the sound of the charming Romantic guitar that cleans up the texture with a soft plucky sound. Nice playing by Valois with some beautiful moments throughout. My favourite work was the Op.15 Sonata by Giuliani which is one of the more significant works in the repertoire and hearing it on a period instrument gives it an extra charm. Below is the intro paragraph from the album booklet which you can download and read more from at Analekta.
In the early 19th century, Italian music reigned over the guitar repertoire. Virtuoso works in which melody predominated were strongly influenced by the period’s omnipresent bel canto style. Bel canto, or the art of beautiful singing, has a series of characteristics typically associated with the voice. On this recording, I attempt to use elements of bel canto to highlight the lyricism of the melodic lines. My approach to these works includes an emphasis on phrasing, bringing out different accents, and using rubato, improvisation, and ornamentation. My hope is to reveal the splendour of the Italian Romantic guitar.
Here’s a live performance of one of the works from the album.The post Napoli 1810: Italian Romantic Music by Pascal Valois first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
João Luiz plays Fandango from Tres Piezas Españolas by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999). This comes via his YouTube channel. Luiz has posted a number of semi-causal yet virtuosic home performances that I previously featured. Fantastic musicality with sharp articulations and virtuosic figuration and rhythmic drive. His left hand technique is so pleasing to watch too, placement is so confident.
Find sheet music via Sheet Music Plus: Tres Piezas Espanolas.The post João Luiz plays Fandango by Rodrigo first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Lesson: Giuliani Arpeggios No. 1-3 and How they Relate to Repertoire Practice – From 120 Arpeggio Exercises for the Right Hand, Op.1 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). My lesson covers some technique tips, how they relate to practicing repertoire, planting practice, and more. The other video on how to practice the 120 arpeggios is below or at this lesson post.
These arpeggios and the 100 open string arpeggios I mention are from my book Classical Guitar Technique: Essential Exercises, Scales, and Arpeggios. 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.The post Lesson: Giuliani Arpeggios No.1-3 first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Finnish guitarist Mari Mäntylä plays Orfeo (I.Adagio, II.Allegretto, III.Adagio) by Russian composer Nikita Koshkin (b.1956) on a 10-string guitar (decacorde). This comes via her great YouTube channel. Great playing by Mäntylä with an excellent dynamic range, phrasing, and long form determination. Love this 10-string guitar, it would be great to hear some Weiss and other lute repertoire on it with original relative tunings.The post Mari Mäntylä plays Orfeo by Koshkin first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
This performance and lesson comes from my book Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 6 – Five pieces at the grade six level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.
Jump to a section: Intro (1:46), Arpeggios (3:02), Slurs (4:17), Barre (5:36), Hinge-Barre (7:10), Walk-Through (11:04).
Etude No.13, Op.100 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) – This a great study of arpeggios, slurs, and control over the texture. For this work I recommend turning the arpeggios, slurs, and barres into technique exercises to accomplish the skills before you tackle the piece itself. This is called “spot practicing” and turning your repertoire into technique exercises – When learning a new piece or maintaining a performance piece, you may find it helpful to use parts of your piece as technique exercises to train your muscle memory and stimulate your practice sessions. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to watch it there.
Here’s an additional video about hinge and pivot barres.The post Lesson: Etude No.13, Op.100 by Giuliani first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Bach: Complete Lute Works on Guitar
By Andrew Wilder, Classical Guitar
Bach: Complete Lute Works on Guitar by Andrew Wilder is an incredible accomplishment filled with brilliant interpretations and virtuosity. From mature and patient pacing to electrified energy, Wilder’s musicality is top notch. Anyone playing the lute works or interested in Bach on the guitar must take a listen. Highly recommend, if not required.
Amazing album release by the young Andrew Wilder based in Boulder, Colorado. This album covers all the suites and individual works that fall under the umbrella of lute or lautenwerk works. These pieces are not always idiomatic to the six string guitar but you won’t notice as Wilder’s performance has no signs of compromise. His tempos and pacing are excellent, allowing for maximum thematic delivery and careful articulation. A couple of his tempo choices caught me off guard at first but his incredibly thoughtful interpretations completely win me over. His balanced but infectious forward momentum is present at all times, even in the slowest of tempos. His attention to voice sustain and understated sophistication remind me of my first listening of Bach by András Schiff, it pulls you in to listen more carefully. I just can’t say enough good things about this album.
- Suite in G Minor, BWV 995
- Suite in E Minor, BWV 996
- Suite in C Minor, BWV 997
- Prelude, Fugue, And Allegro, BWV 998
- Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999
- Fugue in G Minor, BWV 1000
- Suite in E Major, BWV 1006a
Here’s a perfect example of his balanced pacing, careful articulation, and just beautiful phrasing and momentum. You can just melt in it. This comes via his YouTube channel.The post Bach: Complete Lute Works on Guitar by Andrew Wilder first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Raphaella Smits performs Elegie by Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856) on a period instrument, Mirecourt 1827. From a recent concert in Drongen, Belgium. This comes via her sponsor Strings By Mail and their YouTube channel. Great playing by Smits and interesting to hear the largo. I’ve heard and played this work hundreds of times but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the ‘alternate’ Introduction from Muzyka Gitarista but with the extra bass strings its possible here. There are also some parts later in the work that really benefit from the extra strings. Lovely sound from Smits and charming instrument!
She has this info on the instrument via her website.
“I bought this instrument at auction in Vichy, France, in 1995. The description was “Guitare romantique, manche ébène, caisse érable. Dans sa boîte origine. Nombreux accidents.”
(Romantic guitar, ebony neck, maple soundbox. In its original box. Many blemishes.)
Although the instrument was nearly falling to pieces (it seemed that it had been stored for a long time in a place with high humidity), all the parts were in an astonishingly good condition and showed no damage or even traces of having being used. So the only thing I had to do was to reassemble it!!
It is a typical guitar of the late 1820’s or the early 1830’s, with its classical shape and design, which we know from the guitar makers of Mirecourt or Paris.
Description: the table is of spruce back and sides of flamed maple ebony fingerboard and pin-bridge ebony veneered neck scale-length 63.5 16 frets. The addition of a seventh string was quite usual in the 1840’s and 1850’s, and recalls the music of Mertz and Coste.”The post Raphaella Smits Plays Elegie by Mertz first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
Using Large Technique Books: Maintenance and Exploration – Large technique books have hundreds of exercises, so how can you use them in a constructive way without feeling aimless? The key is to separate them into two sections: Maintenance and Exploration.
Maintenance: Remember to stay focused on the core elements of intermediate playing: Scales, arpeggios, slurs, barre, and stretch/finger independence. Most of your time can be on scales, arpeggios, and slurs. Then a little bit of time for barre and stretch. If you can get a little of each in every practice session then you are doing well.
Exploration: This section is for seeking out problems and working to solve them. For example, in my book you might go through my 100 open string exercises for the right hand. First go through all of them and make sure you can play each one at a reasonable speed. Check them off as you go. Once you’ve covered them all, focus on a select few that give you trouble. After that you can probably just play the Giuliani Arpeggios to save time. Pretty much the same advice for all the sections, go through everything, focus on your weaknesses and make them your strengths.
The book I mention is my Classical Guitar Technique: Essential Exercises, Scales, and Arpeggios. 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.
Here’s the YouTube lesson link if you want to watch it there.The post Using Large Technique Books Maintenance & Exploration first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.