Review: Guitar Fandangos

Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 in Culture

Review: Guitar Fandangos

Aaron Larget-Caplan

review by Gina Hamilton

The Oratorio Chorale capped off its season with a special program of mostly guitar music (along with two featured piano solos by the Chorale's accompanist) on May 18 and 19.

We saw the program at the Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College; the program was repeated Sunday at Falmouth Congregational Church.

It marked the last time Maestro Peter Frewen would lead the Chorale; his long tenure extended from 1986, and he now will enjoy a well-deserved retirement.  He couldn't have chosen a finer collection of music for his final performance.

The choir first sang a piece they had performed before this season, the Randall Thompson 'Allelujah', a simple and lovely a capella work that showcases every part in the chorale. 

The second major work was the world premiere of 'Pravasa: Travels of the Guitar', which was commissioned by the Chorale for this program.  Written by Vineet Shende, a Bowdoin music professor and guitar aficionado, as well as a former Chorale member, the work encompassed the early history of the instrument that would one day become the guitar, from its earliest appearance in what is now Pakistan, to the middle east, where it would one day become the Oud, to China, where it was known as the Pipa, and back to the middle east, where the oud combined with multiple tonalities and rhythms.  The text was drawn from poetry from the regions at the time when the instrument was arising.  The Chorale performed the challenging work well, and Aaron Larget-Caplan's work on the guitar was inspiring.

The virtuoso piece was followed by two piano solos played by Chorale accompanist Derek Herzer ...'Improvisation in B flat minor' by Nicholai Medtner and 'Idylle in F sharp major' by Alexander Glazunov.  Both lyrical pieces gently corrected the frenzied mood of the guitar work, and brought the audience to intermission.

After intermission, Larget-Caplan played 'Summertime' by Gershwin, followed by Bach's Suite in E-minor, a suite of mostly baroque dances.  Larget said that Bach followed the natural progression of the guitar's development, as the keyboard instrument for which the Suite in E-minor was written was designed to sound like the medieval lute. 

The Chorale returned to sing a group of Federico Lorca's poems set to Spanish guitar music written by Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco, collectively called 'Romancero Guitara'.  This, according to Larget-Caplan, was the final progression of the guitar as art music ... the music of the Iberian peninsula, and specifically, the music of Andalusia, the poetry and music that was carried by the poets into the Spanish Civil War. 

Again, the Chorale was in perfect voice, and Larget-Caplan's guitar was sweet and plaintive, insistent and angry in turn, matching the tone of the poetry and the turbulent times. 

We will miss Peter Frewen very much, and bid him a fond farewell.  But we look forward to the next iteration of what has become an adaptable and dynamic vocal group.

blog comments powered by Disqus