University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Music and Dance


Boston premiere of Thomas L. Read's Capricci

Composers Gather for Guitar Premieres » The Boston Musical Intelligencer » 2/26/2013

Larget-Caplan’s arrangement of Bach’s Fugue in D Minor (originally c minor) BWV 962 was masterful and an impressive presentation of his virtuosity in a beautifully running bass line executed with poise and precision. Presenting stunning ornamentation and fine voicing, there were moments, however, when the tempo seemed to get away from him, and one moment in particular when he suffered a lapse of memory but recovered well.

Caplan followed the Bach fugue with the late Elliott Carter’s Shard, written for David Starobin’s 1997 “New Dance” recording which can best be described in the composer’s own words as “… a short, lively and whimsical guitar fragment…” Larget-Caplan described in the program notes his experience of the piece as having “… the musical ideas of a sonata packed into three minutes. … The piece requires many different right hand techniques: rasqueado (strumming), scales, arpeggio, chords, harmonics and finger-drags.” This first-time listener tended to hear sharp, choppy, atonal jumps, but in the spirit of playfulness.

For the close of the first half, Caplan brought onto the stage two of his classical guitar colleagues on the Boston Conservatory faculty. Berit Strong and Olav Chris Henrikson participated in a crowd-pleasing 19th-century piece for three guitars, Polonaise Concertante, op. 27, by M.A. Zani de Ferranti (1801-1878). An apparently admired figure in Europe’s cultural elite circles, Ferranti’s most audible influence by contemporary association in this romp is Rossini, as well as the late Donizetti. The point for Caplan was to convivially collaborate with his colleagues over a fun piece of music. It is doubtful they could afford to invest much time into this encore-like enchantment, but they certainly produced a pleasing performance and looked like they were enjoying themselves.

Caplan opened his second half with the entire Bach Suite in E Minor, BWV 996; standard classical guitar repertoire which he performed with elegant precision. This was followed by his exquisite guitar arrangement of John Cage’s Six Melodies for Violin and Keyboard (1950). Beautifully played by violinist Sharon Leventhal, of all the pieces on the program, it was Cage’s asymmetrical, leaning, off-foot rhythm and tonal but muted sonority and dynamics through the substitution of guitar that ost effectively rocked the listener into quiet transcendence reminiscent of a lullaby.

The jewel of the evening was the Boston premiere of Thomas L. Read’s Capricci (2010), named after Giovanni Tapielo’s mysterious but fanciful, 18thcentury etchings, while playing on the term “caprice” that would conventionally be applied to its one-movement, free musical form. Scored for guitar and string quartet (Nicole Parks and MacFarland Masterton, violin; Faith Jones, viola; Nora Karakousoglou, cello), Read’s choice to “…treat the guitar as an integral part of the ensemble rather than as a solo with, or as obbligato secondo…” was stunningly executed. It is an approach that could have failed in the wrong hands, but Read’s acoustical sensibilities for this instrumental combination resulted in musical passages that shimmered with vibrancy. A moment early on when the guitar and first violin (Parks) rang out in their respective upper registers in duet over the other instruments stood out as particularly brilliant.

A wardrobe puzzle in the Read ensemble was solved in the recital encore, in which the same group of instrumentalists returned to perform Roland Dyens’s Tango en Skai, taken at a rather fast but exhilarating clip. Every woman in the audience could not help but notice that every woman on stage was wearing conspicuously fabulous high-heeled shoes. Apparently, they were being worn as a prequel and spiffy accessory to this rather playful finale.

Janine Wanée holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California, a Master of Music from Boston University, and professional certificates from the Boston University Opera Institute and summer Acting Shakespeare course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She is currently a member of the Copley Singers under Brian Jones and has sung in recital with guitar students of Jim Smith and David Leisner.

Last modified March 06 2013 09:22 AM

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