The Guitar's heart beats with the vibrant rhythms of popular music. The dark passions of flamenco, the moan of the blues, the eloquence of jazz, the timelessness of folk song, infuse much of the best contemporary literature for the instrument. Compositional processes can add shape to this material but must not alter its primal core. The music contained on this disc represents four disparate composer's treatment of this legacy.
...Shenandoah follows the path first hewn by Beaser's Mountain Songs (1988) in its interweaving of traditional and original melody.
...Rodrigo's fascination with Spain's past glories and varied topography infuse much of his work. The former resulted in such works as the Fantasia Para un Gentilhombre and in his fantasy on an old Sephardic song, Ecos de Sefarad. Also in this category would be Un Tiempo fue Italica Famosa (Once Italica was famous). In Roman times the legions would visit the once thriving city of Italica on the plains of Castille for rest and relaxation. Period accounts tell of lines of troops stretching for miles entering and leaving the city. Now all that is left are a few wind blown ruins and a large stone bearing the inscription "Once Italica was famous". In the land of Jerez fits into the latter category and is part of a suite of landscapes entitled Por los Campos de Espana (Through the Fields of Spain).
Invocation and Dance visits a different, darker Spanish Landscape. This is a homage to Rodrigo's friend and mentor Manuel de Falla and visits the edgy eloquence of his world or even perhaps the terrible bleakness of Goya's Black Paintings. Rodrigo complained of periods of depression and anxiety and much of his darker faire springs from this black fountain.
...Ralph Towner was one of the first guitarists to combine the precision and timbral qualities of the classical guitar with the freedom of jazz and the boundless possibilities of world music. As he once explained to a journalist "The thing I'm most interested in is to transcend the instrument in a way that makes it sound more like a small orchestra. There seems to me to be an orchestral way of expressing yourself on a small instrument by implying a lot. The classical guitar is really a magical instrument for this. I had felt the instrument sounded foolish playing bebop - it's too elegant to fall into that mold. My interest has been to continue to add to the guitar's vocabulary as an improvising instrument, neither strictly jazz nor classical…"
The movements of his Suite for Guitar originated as separate, improvised pieces but later coalesced into larger work.
...Rochberg writes, "The title, American Bouquet (Versions of Popular Music) speaks for itself. By "versions" I simply mean that I have not made "arrangements" but "compositions" in which tunes are embedded as the essential melodic thread. This approach allowed me to compose introductions, transitions, codas, to invent motifs based on an aspect of the tune I was working with and to weave it through or to expand the harmony inherent in the original tune in directions it could still support without destroying its identity"
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