This is Classical Guitar
Daniel Shoskes, aka Kidney Kutter (he’s a Urologist) plays Fantasie by Guillaume Morlaye (c.1510–c.1558) on Renaissance Guitar by Dan Larson. This comes via Shoskes’ great YouTube channel. Charming piece and well played. Morlaye was a French lutenist, composer and music publisher. Here’s what Shoskes had to say about it on YouTube: “From Morlaye’s first book of Renaissance Guitar music from the 16th Century here is a fantasie. Amazing the polyphony he could write on only 4 strings. Performed by Daniel Shoskes on a Larson Renaissance Guitar.”
I’m always a bit confused by all the names for Renaissance Guitars and Vihuelas as there are many regional names for the instruments. I asked Daniel, and he replied, “Viheula has 6 courses and is tuned like a Renaissance lute. Renaissance Guitar has 4 courses and is tuned like a Uke.” I tried to look up Dan Larson’s instruments which led me to this great early music store/collective, Gamut Music down in Duluth, Minnesota.
Swedish guitarist and lutenist Johan Löfving performs Canario by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (1580–1651) on theorbo. This comes via his fantastic Youtube channel. Charming little piece with some spicy strumming and golpe or tapping in the inner section. I love Löfving’s contrasts between a bouncy light dance and extroverted excitement. I’ve featured Löfving a number of times and he always goes the extra mile.
It’s been a good month for Kapsperger and theorbo with Micheli’s video last week.
A lesson on right hand articulation for classical guitar covering how to play legato, staccato, pizzicato, and chords (playing solid, rolled, strummed, and rasgueado chords). For legato playing, make sure the right hand fingers pass through the string spending very little time touching the string (when you touch a vibrating string you mute it). For staccato, place the next available finger on the string as soon as possible purposefully stopping the sound (also called preparation). Beginners might want a little bit of preparation for security and accuracy (you’ll hit the correct string if you fingers are resting on it) – also see my lesson on Right Hand Planting & Preparation. Students often roll chords for no other reason than it being built into their muscle memory or because they have trouble playing a clean solid chord. Make sure you’ve decided to roll a chord and that it benefits the musical texture and does not disrupt the rhythm.
Danse Macabre is a collection of new transcriptions of piano and orchestral works for two guitars arranged by the Kossler Duo. I’ve featured Adam Kossler’s videos a number of times so it was with great pleasure to receive this album with Adam and his brother John Kossler. It’s tricky business arranging orchestral and piano music even when there are two players but it can also result in some exciting solutions to the arranging process and performance.
When I see arrangements of great composers I often question whether I want to hear guitar reductions. However, this process can involve some creative reimagining of the works and the result here is charming. From the very first track it was clear that the duo has excellent ensemble skills and beautifully matched phrasing. These are virtuosic arrangements that are very active but I could still hear the motifs being passed back and forth with similar articulations, arched phrases, and dynamics. In the Haydn, I really appreciate their willingness to start with nice and simple arranging and then build and expand to get a sense of growth and increased orchestration. The recording sounds warm and clear and a bit on the live side which I prefer for its natural quality.
Danse Macabre by Kossler Duo is filled with charming and virtuosic performances of classical masterworks arranged for two guitars. The arrangements elegantly showcase the best timbral qualities of the classical guitar while bringing out the motivic complexity of the compositions all wrapped up in refined and musical performances.
Repertoire Arranged for Classical Guitar Duo
- Haydn: Symphony 94 “Surprise Symphony” G major: I. Adagio-Vivace assai
- Haydn: Symphony 94 “Surprise Symphony” G major: II. Andante
- Haydn: Symphony 94 “Surprise Symphony” G major: III. Menuetto: Allegro molto
- Haydn: Symphony 94 “Surprise Symphony” G major: IV. Finale: Allegro molto
- Brahms: Klavierstücke, Op. 76: Intermezzo, no. 7
- Brahms: Klavierstücke, Op. 76: Capriccio, no. 2
- Mendelssohn: Fantaisies, Op. 16: Andante con Moto
- Mendelssohn: Fantaisies, Op. 16: Scherzo- Allegro vivace
- Mendelssohn: Fantaisies, Op. 16: Andante
- Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre, Op. 40
Kossler Duo: Brothers Adam and John Kossler have established themselves individually as soloists, chamber musicians and educators. As the Kossler Duo John and Adam have performed for concert series including the Utah Classical Guitar Series (SLC, Utah), Philadelphia Guitar Series (Philadelphia, PA), Auburn Guitar Society Concert Series (Auburn, AL), Aguado Guitar Series (Sterling, VA), Appalachian Guitarfest (Boone, NC), Mid Maryland Guitar Festival (Rockville, MD) East Carolina Guitar Workshop (Greenville, NC) and a number of other venues around the US.
Adam Kossler is a top prizewinner in a number of national and international guitar competitions including the Boston Guitarfest, Columbus Guitar Symposium, East Carolina Guitar Competition, MANC Guitar Competition, Texas International Guitar Competition, Music Teacher National Association Competition, and the Appalachian Guitarfest Competition. Kossler’s international performance career has taken him throughout the US, Canada and Central America. He has been a featured artist with numerous concert series including the John E. Marlow Guitar Series (Bethesda, MD), Isle Newell Concert Series (Appalachicola, FL), and the Seven Hills Guitar Series (Tallahassee, FL) among many others. In 2015, his Marlow Guitar Series performance was aired in it’s entirety on Classical WETA’s weekly program, “Front Row Washington”. In addition to his performance career, Adam is also in demand as a teacher and clinician. Recent engagements include The Denver Guitar Summit (Denver, CO), Festival Internacional Suzuki (Guatemala City, Guatemala), University of Alaska Guitar Festival (Anchorage, AK) Rantucci Guitar Festival (Buffalo, NY), and in 2015 Kossler was the featured Artist in Residence for Utah Classical Guitar (Salt Lake City, UT). In 2014, Adam released his first solo recording, Guitar Recital. The album was received with enthusiasm by critics and audiences and was featured Tom Cole’s show, “The G String” on WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington D.C. In 2015 Kossler released his second solo record. Ekloge, an album of 20thcentury music, includes works by Joaquin Rodrigo, Manuel Maria Ponce and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, as well as his own new transcriptions of music by Jean Sibelius. Adam began his musical studies with his father William Kossler. He went on to earn his BM degree at East Carolina University with Dr. Elliot Frank, his MM degree at Appalachian State University as a teaching assistant to Dr. Douglas James, and completed a DMA in Guitar Performance at Florida State University where he served as a teaching assistant to Bruce Holzman.
John Kossler started his guitar studies through the Suzuki Method with his father, William Kossler, at the age of four years old. He eventually attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem, North Carolina, studying under Joseph Pecoraro. Placing in competitions such as the ECU Guitar Festival in Greenville, North Carolina, the Young Arts Festival in Miami, Florida, and the Music Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina, John then attended Wake Forest University, studying under Patricia Dixon. During his education at WFU, he performed in Europe in cities that include Milan, Italy and Postojna, Slovenia. He has also won the New York Artists International Competition for 2016. John has just finished his Masters of Musical Arts degree in guitar performance with Ben Verdery. Along with writing and arranging music, he currently teaches and performs throughout the country.
French guitarist Jérémy Jouve plays the 3rd movement Allegro from Sonata Giocosa Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–1999). This comes via his excellent Youtube channel. Recorded in Guangzhou, China, 2018. We don’t get to hear this sonata often, maybe due to its difficulty. Jouve pulls it off with all the virtuosity and flare needed. I love the tight closing off of the some of the phrases and the extra attention to the smaller motivic ideas. Amazing.
Slovenian guitarist/producer Uros Baric Plays Nocturne Op.9, No.2 by Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), originally for piano. This comes via Baric’s fantastic Youtube channel. Make sure to check out his personal website, lesson site Guitarise, and his record label Baros Records. Beautiful phrasing and cadenza work by Baric and always nice sound and video quality.
Here’s what he had to say via Youtube: “Nocturne Op. 9 No.2 by one of my favourite composers – Frédéric Chopin. This piano piece is a huge challenge on classical guitar, both technically and musically. I created my own version of the work that is based on a few different arrangements for classical guitar (Tarrega, Lopes) but takes certain elements only present in the piano original score. Unlike in the original the B part gets repeated in a lower octave and the fast cadence at the end was written by Francisco Tárrega. The strings are tuned half a tone lower to match the original tonality of E flat Major.”
Italian guitarist and lutenist Lorenzo Micheli plays Toccata seconda arpeggiata (Venice, 1604) by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (1580–1651) on theorbo. Filmed in Palazzo Pignano, Italy by Drew Henderson. This comes via Micheli’s great YouTube channel. Kapsperger was a German-Italian performer and composer of the early Baroque who wrote a number of lute and theorbo (chitarrone) works. Love the sound of the theorbo for this toccata that, despite the intensity of the arpeggios, comes off as pleasant and flowing. Always love hearing Micheli who you probably know from his work in SoloDuo, but such a fantastic soloist as well.
I’ve been meaning to feature guitarist Merce Font for awhile after seeing her cool vlog posts awhile back. Here she is playing Sonata K.165 / L.52 (original for harpsichord) by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), arranged by Carlo Marchione. This comes via her great YouTube Channel. I really like it when she chooses an articulation in the bass voice or pops notes and motifs out in contrast with her beautifully flowing legato.
I couldn’t find any live harpsichord vids on YouTube which is strange but there are these recordings.
And this more peppy one by the great Scott Ross.
Sight Reading for the Classical Guitar by Robert Benedict – Daily Sight Reading Material with Emphasis on Interpretation, Phrasing, Form, and More
These are two books I use with my students after they complete a basic my method book. I’ve found that students can learn a great deal from my books but so much of the detail and reading skills get lost in the effort to also try to play guitar well and with good technique. By going over these books after they complete my methods I can ensure that they will be good sight readers but also pick up on the variety of terminologies in music and textures in music.
The Pros: Short one or two line examples give the student tons of experience with multiple textures, rhythmics, dynamics and more. Terminology along the way, tips about phrasing and form are right next to solid examples. The emphasis is on musical interpretation rather than technique so it’s great to use after a method when the student has worked out some of the mechanics.
The cons: I don’t really think there are any. However, these are best studied with a qualified teacher to push the student toward higher musicality, smoother legato, contrasting dynamics, and more.
Publisher’s Info for Level I-III: This book for the classical guitar has been compiled to improve sight reading, an often neglected aspect of musicianship. With the guitar, musical components (scales, chords, arpeggios, etc.) may often be played in various positions. While this is one of the reasons that the instrument produces such colorful and interesting timbres, it also contributes to the difficulties of sight reading. It is important to develop facility in reading, recognizing the notes, as well as the bar positions in which to play them, the fingerings, the rhythmic patterns, and any markings if interpretation (dynamics, phrasing, articulation, etc.).This book provides an orderly and systematic approach to the study of sight reading, based upon standards for sight reading for the classical guitar found in respected schools around the world.
Publisher’s Info for Level IV-V: Sight Reading for Classical Guitar (Level IV-V) is designed for grade school or university level in either private tutoring of class instruction and is intended to be used by guitar students on a daily basis. This volume, containing Levels Four and Five, continues the study of sight reading, providing material suitable for more advanced students. Both books can be used to establish a reading level for students entering a new environment of guitar instruction, whether it be private tuition or class lessons.
Maria (Gavota) by Francisco Tárrega (1852–1909) for Classical Guitar. Notation or Notation+TAB, left hand fingering, PDF download. The level is not that difficult but there is large amount of shifting and barre so either late-intermediate or early-advanced (Grade 7 or 8). Join my Email Newsletter or help support the site & free music.
Free PDF Notation Edition (Fingered)
Free Unfingered Edition
TAB Edition from My Sheet Music Store
Keep in mind that I use my own fingerings, although I try to stay close to Tarrega for the most part. There were a few spots I came up with my own fingerings to ease the difficulty but the style of the work is somewhat reliant on Tarrega’s original fingerings, constant shifts with glissando, and rhapsodic nature. Anyway, there are some minor changes in each video below.
Thomas Viloteau’s performance is probably closest overall to both Tarrega and my edition.
Andrea González Caballero performance has more open string and alternative fingerings. I actually like this a lot and I think it’s even a bit easier to play but the flavour of the piece is slightly sacrificed (barely noticeable due to her great playing). My edition is closer to Viloteau’s but I agree with a few of these compromises/improvements.
Irina Kulikova’s performance is nicely stable but again does away with some of the constant shifts in favour of sustain and stability.
K.Fune Duo with Lievenka Van de Meirssche (Flute) and Abel Roland (Guitar), play Mitología de las Aguas by Leo Brouwer (b.1939). This comes via Abel Roland’s YouTube channel. Nice playing and such a big project. There’s a nice Wiki article on the work: “Mitología de las Aguas, or Mythology of the waters, is a composition for flute and guitar by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, written in 2009 for the German-Venezuelan guitarist and composer Sef Albertz. Brouwer defines this work as his first sonata for flute and guitar, and especially dedicated the work to Albertz, who played the world premiere in the German city of Leipzig on September 4 of that year, in the Peterskirche, as part of the closing concert of the International Festival Con Guitarra under the cultural patronage of the German Section of UNESCO. The total duration of this composition, divided into four movements, is approximately 25 minutes. Although Brouwer refuses to confine it to a mere description or imitation of nature, the music of this monumental sonata is a kind of musical cartography Latin America, with its most emblematic landscapes, characters and cultures…”
I. Nacimiento del Amazonas – The Birth of the Amazon River (Brazil)
II. El Lago escondido de los Mayas – The hidden lake of the Mayas (Central America)
III. El Salto del Ángel, -The Angel Falls (Venezuela)
IV. El Güije, duende de los ríos de Cuba – The Güije, goblin of the rivers of Cuba (Caribbean)
Easy Christmas Songs for Guitar – Volume 3 – Solo Classical Guitar Arrangements with Lyrics & Chords. Comes with two editions: Notation Edition and Notation + TAB eidtion. PDF Download, some minimal left hand fingering. Songs: The First Noël, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Jingle Bells, O Come, All Ye Faithful.
About This Collection – Easy Level: Melody + Bass Notes + Common Chord Shapes. These are basically just the melody with the bass note of the chords added. I would barely call these arrangements, mainly melody. These easy Christmas arrangements are for beginner or intermediate guitarists looking for easy sight-readable songs for the holiday season. I’ve added the lyrics and chords to make them as useful as possible in group or family settings if singing occurs. More advanced guitarists may wish to improvise or work-out intros and extra accompaniment. Otherwise, the arrangements are simple melodies plus bass notes and some filling out of common first position chords. I wanted to create a nice and simple edition to relax over the holidays.Buy Easy Christmas Volume 2 (PDF Download)
- Buy Easy Christmas Volume 3 from Werner Guitar Editions – my dedicated sheet music store.
Italian guitarist Federica Canta performs Capriccio No. 28, Op. 20 by Luigi Legnani (1790–1877). This comes via Guitar Salon International and their YouTube channel. Great playing by Canta, I really like how she makes this caprice sound so calm and musical despite the intense virtuosity needed. Read more about Canata at her bio page. I’d recommend this edition of the Legnani Caprices by edited by Lucio Matarazzo (although the facsimile is pretty decent off of imslp).
Sonata IX in C Major by Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687–1750) – Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Bourée, Sarabande, Menuet 1 & 2, Presto. Arranged for Classical Guitar by Bradford Werner. Comes with a fingered editorial edition and an unfingered non-editorial edition (see preface below). Notation only, left hand fingering only, 33 pages, PDF download. Level: Advanced (some movements are easier than others but overall this is quite challenging and often awkward).
Sonata IX by Weiss (PDF Sheet Music)
The music of Sylvius Leopold Weiss is some of the most beautiful music of the Baroque era. The galant style features smooth flowing musical lines along with Baroque era textures and ideas. Although there are many difficulties in arranging 13-course lute music on the 6-string guitar, guitarists will continue to pursue the music of Weiss due to its beauty and historical connection to plucked instruments. The term “Sonata” should be associated here with the term with the Baroque “Suite” rather than any classical era form. Source: Dresden Manuscript – WeissSW37.1 à 8 Ms. Dresde D-Dl2841.
Read the full preface here (PDF) – Includes performance notes, information on the editions, and an important note about ornamentation in Weiss’ music.
Video Performances (I’ll be recording these gradually over the next few months)
YouTube Links: Prelude
Spanish guitarist Andrea González Caballero performs Cataluña from Suite Española, Op. 47 by Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), originally for piano (Arr. M. Barrueco). This comes via her excellent YouTube channel. Live recorded at Kulturzentrum Immanuelskirche, Wuppertal (Germany). I don’t usually post Albéniz but I was very impressed by her juxtaposition of strong articulated rhythms against sudden sweet phrasing moments. A fantastic performance and refined control of the aesthetic.
Adam Kossler performs Sonata K3, L378 by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), arr. Kossler (originally for keyboard, usually harpsichord). This comes via Strings by Mail and their YouTube channel with audio and video by Drew Henderson. Great playing by Kossler who does a nice job bringing out the repeated motifs in this work. Scarlatti always reminds me that the Baroque era was incredibly musically diverse. Just thinking about the range of music, from the older style of Bach, to the smoother galant style, to Scarlatti’s influences in the Spanish plucked instrument realm.
Out of interest, here is the score and Scott Ross performing it on harpsichord.
Shockingly I couldn’t find any high quality performances on harpsichord (in terms of video production that is). But this one by Kazutaka Tsutsui on a facsimile instrument is ok, at least it’s up close.
Lesson: Hinge Barres, Pivots, and Partial Barres for Classical Guitar
YouTube Lesson Link
A dedicated barre (bar) lesson on Hinge Barres, Pivots, and Partial Barres. How to play these various barres and when to use them. I mention these in my pieces quite often so it was time to put out a lesson explaining their uses and specifics. Also see my lesson on basic barres as well if you need advice on the basics.
Barre Abbreviations in scores:
- BV3 = Barre at the 5th fret, over three strings (E, B, G Strings)
- BV5 = Barre at the 5th fret, over five strings (E, B, G, D, A, Strings)
- BIII2 = Barre at the 3rd fret, over two strings (E, B Strings)
- hBV = Hinge Barre, a barre only over some of the strings while allowing open strings to sustain (commonly open bass strings). Usually followed either by a full barre or a new bass note with the 1st finger.
- Piv. (or piv.BII2) = Pivot Barre, a technique where the player either pivots into a barre or releases a barre while allowing certain notes to sustain or avoiding a finger jump to a new string.
I don’t indicate Partial barres because if I notate an open string while barring it’s self-explanatory. The RCM uses a fraction to indicate the number of strings but it’s not completely intuitive.
Canadian guitarist Steve Cowan plays III. the equilibrium crumbles by David Leisner. This comes via Cowan’s great YouTube channel. Cowan is creating some great videos with top notch playing so make sure to subscribe to him. Excellent articulations and control over the texture by Cowan. Video and sound by Drew Henderson.
Here’s his info on the piece via his YouTube: Dedicated to Steve Cowan, …empty mind, open heart… is a four-movement suite that centers around the intervals of a fifth and a tritone. It was written in 2018 and premiered by Steve in concert for the New York City Classical Guitar Society in February, 2019. This third movement is a study in rhythm, sometimes dizzying. Quotes from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, as translated by Stephen Mitchell, provided inspiration for each of the movements.
III. When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy.
the earth becomes depleted.
the equilibrium crumbles.
creatures become extinct.
Norwegian guitarist Christina Sandsengen plays In Moments of Solitude by Ole Bull. Nice balanced playing and beautifully shaped phrases by Sandsengen. Ole Bull was a Norwegian violinist and composer. “According to Robert Schumann, he was on a level with Niccolò Paganini for the speed and clarity of his playing.” – via Wiki. Video in collaboration with Guitar Salon International and Elite Guitarist where she also has a tutorial on this one.
Dmitriy Murin (Russia) plays the fantasia Pensée fugitive by Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806–1856). Wow, what a spectacular display of extroverted virtuosity. At first I thought he would not be able to sustain this level of punchy fast playing but he nails it and blazes through the fast passages. Later on he shows his sweeter side with some very gentle nice phasing. This guy is amazing. Here’s a small bio of Murin.
This comes via Guitar Magazine on Youtube via Moscow. Performed live on November 11th, 2018 on ‘Two evenings in November’ Festival. Gnessins’ Academy of Music, Moscow, Russia. As they say on their YouTube: “The great fantasias La rimembranza, Pensée fugitive and Harmonie du soir, considered a trilogy, are probably Mertz’s most important contribution to the guitar repertoire, his most technically demanding pieces, clearly inspired by Liszt’s piano music.”