New Lullaby Project, Vol. 1 and 2, new ideas for classical guitar by Aaron Larget-Caplan on #neuguitars #blog
What is closer to the world of the little ones than the lullaby? Of those lullabies, nursery rhymes invented or stolen from tradition to accompany the little ones to sleep? A ritual that leads us to ancient sensations of sweetness and tenderness. A ritual that is satisfying in itself, capable of releasing a calming charge and powerful emotional involvement. This, most likely, explains the ability to withstand the times and modernity. In fact, the ritual of the lullaby has been repeated, say the scholars, from ancient times and at all latitudes, crossing the different cultures transversely, confirming that the moment of abandonment to sleep always and everywhere involves the need for physical-affective closeness. direct, which favors calm, reassurance, trust in awakening.
Music is often simple and repetitive: lullabies tend to share exaggerated melodic tendencies, most lullabies are simple, often simply alternating tonic and dominant harmonies. The world of classical music has also dedicated itself to this popular genre. Lullabies written by established classical composers are often given the name “berceuse”, which is the French term for lullaby. The most famous lullaby is that of Johannes Brahms (“Wiegenlied”, 1868).
Chopin’s “Berceuse” is a composition for solo piano. Other famous examples of the genre include Maurice Ravel’s Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré for violin and piano; the Berceuse élégiaque by Ferruccio Busoni; the “Berceuse” from Benjamin Godard’s Jocelyn; Igor Stravinsky’s “Berceuse” which appears in George Gershwin’s ballet Firebird and Lullaby for String Quartet. The English composer Nicholas Maw’s orchestral nocturnal The World in the Evening is subtitled “lullaby for large orchestra”. The last movement of the German composer Paul Graener of his suite From The Realm of Pan is entitled “Pan sings the world a lullaby”. Curiously, lullabies almost never have instrumental accompaniments: it seems that babies prefer unaccompanied lullabies over accompanied lullabies, perhaps due to the more limited ability of children to process information.
An aspect that does not seem to have worried the American classical guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, who at the end of 2006 started asking composers for pieces for guitar only, composed in this particular form. Larget-Caplan is not new to operations of this kind: a few years ago I was able to appreciate his excellent CD dedicated to his transcriptions of music composed by John Cage. An intelligent operation, which is repeated with this new project, whose goal seems to be to overcome two limits in his activity as an interpreter: the public’s lack of propensity for contemporary music and the fact that composers seem to be afraid of write for the guitar. But who is afraid of a lullaby? The result was beyond expectations: not only the public reacted well to this new repertoire, but the composers continued to send new pieces. The production was so copious and interesting that it generated a separate record production.
The first album was released on October 1st 2010, title: “New Lullaby – 13 Contemporary Solos for Guitar”.
The track list:
- The Sixth Night by Lynn Job
- Leaky Roof by Jonathan Feist
- No Time by Jonathan Feist
- My Darling’s Slumber by Francine Trester
- Nachtlied by Scott Wheeler
- Cradle Song by Kevin Siegfried
- Descent to a Dream by Mark Small
- Lullaby for Sam by Nolan Stolz
- Unfolding the Gates of Dawn by Carson Cooman
- You are Alone to Sleep, Op. 430 by John McDonald
- Berceuse by David Vayo
- Disturbed, a Lullaby by David Leisner
- Song Softly Sung, in Trying Times by Eric Schwartz
- Shhh by Ryan Vigil
In 2015, two pieces, Ken Ueno’s “Ed è Subito Sera” and Kota Nakamura’s “Sui-hou”, were included in the CD “The Legend of Hagoromo”.
In 2020 the second volume was released: “Nights Transfigured”
The track list:
- Lullaby for D— by Garrett Ian Shatzer
- Perseiden by Agustín Castilla-Ávila
- The Moon Through The Window Shines Down by Thomas L. Read
- After Many Days Without Rain by Patricia Julien
- Reva’s Lullaby by Vineet Shende
- Lullaby in Three Voices by Alan Fletcher
- Berceuse by Roger Éon
- Sleeping Light, Spinning World by David McMullin
- Lullaby for Our Time by Francine Trester
- A World Of Your Own by James Dalton
- A Child Sings at Thanksgiving by Demetrius Spaneas
- Esperanza by Stephanie Ann Boyd
- Wiegenlied by Thomas Schuttenhelm
- The Pillow That You Dream On by Barnaby Oliver
I must say that these are excellent compositions and that listening is really enjoyable. But are we sure it’s also comforting? In the booklet of the first cd Aaron Larget-Caplan rightly pointed out that “there are two basic types of lullabies: one gives the listeners warmth and protection, while the second tends to be darker with hints of fear”. Very true. Few things can be as disturbing as an old lullaby. Dario Argento knew it well, inserting a childish dirge in “Profondo Rosso”, both as a hub of intrigue and as an element of atmosphere. And no one knows this better than the English people: the old nursery rhymes, with their macabre texts, over the decades will have kept millions of children awake, rather than making them sleep. Ask Robert Smith’s The Cure. The berceuses interpreted by Larget-Caplan are of both types and the repertoire of the CDs takes these characteristics into account. The pieces are carefully balanced between them to allow you to enjoy both sensations, allowing the listener an emotional movement linked to his subconscious and his own impressionability. Lullabies know how to touch emotional chords that border the attraction for what is outside our senses, perception, knowledge and common experience. At the same time they are familiar. The familiar observed from a different, external, out of place, dreamlike perspective. The music performed by Larget-Caplan is quiet, still, giving an impression of apparent calm, but in which it is difficult to understand what is happening. Everything has an order, a logic of its own, but these music generate strange sensations that are not produced by the collision with something threatening, but rather by the passage through a fracture between two worlds, from that of “reality” to that of sleep, of dreams and nightmare.