Just West Coast by John Schneider (1993, Bridge Records BCD 9041)
Lou Harrison Suite No. 2 Percussion – Gene Sterling (9:39)
1 – Jahla 1:51
2 – Waltz For Evelyn Hinrichsen 1:57
3 – Threnody 2:33
4 – Sonata In Ishartum 1:41
5 – Beverly’s Troubadour Piece 1:33
6 La Monte Young Sarabande 1:37
Harry Partch Two Studies On Ancient Greek Scales
7 – Study On Olympos’ Pentatonic 1:14
8 – Study On Archytas’ Enharmonic 2:28
Harry Partch Barstow: Eight Hitchhikers’ Inscriptions Baritone Vocals – John Schneider (5) (9:58)
9 – Today I Am A Man 1:31
10 – Gentlemen 0:46
11 – Considered Pretty 1:04
12 – A Very Good Idea 0:36
13 – Possible Rides 1:11
14 – Jesus Was God In The Flesh 0:47
15 – You Lucky Women 1:10
16 – Why in Hell did you Come? 2:47
17 John Cage Dream 6:46
18 John Cage In A Landscape 8:40
Lou Harrison Six Sonatas (20:37)
19 – Moderato 2:36
20 – Allegro 3:29
21 – Moderato 5:23
22 – Allegro 1:51
23 – Moderato 3:38
24 – Allegro 3:38
John Schneider is an American guitarist, composer, musicologist and writer. Californian for accuracy. A real specialist and expert in contemporary guitar music not only because he is the author of an absolutely fundamental book on the subject such as “The Contemporay Guitar”, released in 1985 and finally reprinted in 2015 or having been the president of the Guitar Foundation of America, but above all for his valuable recordings always made playing guitars prepared and tuned according to the Just Intonation.
Here he performs a repertoire of contemporary composers all of Californian origin, all great experimenters and devotees of the Just Intonation: Lou Harrison, LaMonte Young, Harry Partch and John Cage. The Just Intonation is a tuning system that sets the musical intervals on fractions of whole numbers (in other words, on harmonic series): compared to a system of fixed intervals, in which precisely the intervals are equidistant from each other, the resulta are sounds and relationships between sounds more nuanced, which make the compositions rich in sound ranges that are unusual with respect to the conventions. If you have never listened to music based on this system, this is a good start. The combination of guitar and Celtic harp (very unusual in contemporary music), with the occasional addition of percussion is really interesting and John Schneider proves himself a competent, elegant and a prepared guitarist.
The five movements of Suite No.2 by Lou Harrison are very beautiful, with the intimate character accentuated by the melodic qualities expressed at best by the guitar and the harp fused together. Sarabande of La Monte Young, originally for piano, doesn’t suffer from his transcription for guitar and harp. It sounds like a wind chime, a sense of static harmonies (now purified) that drift freely and gently.
I found Barstow’s “spoken text” less interesting: 8 Hitchhikers’ Inscriptions, a bit boring, while In a Landscape, arranged for harp, and John Cage’s Dream are really remarkable with the guitar and the harp playing together like a small ensemble.