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Preludio - Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
The French neoclassical composer Jean Françaix composed his Serenata for guitar in 1978 and it's opening movement begins this album. A drifting and delicate piece evoking the impressionist tone colours of Francaix's predecessors Maurice Ravel and Francis Poulenc, the Preludio is light and full of conversational interplay. Françaix rejected atonality and the more avant-garde styles of composition that were popular amongst his colleagues; he often put his modern aesthetic on older modes of expression, hinting and referencing a wide variety of styles in an output of over 200 pieces.
Les Barricades Mystérieuses, Les Sylvains, Les tours de passe-passe - François Couperin (1668-1733)
The music of harpsichordist and composer Francois Couperin translates very well to guitar; this is due in part to the similar range of the two instruments: the smallest Harpsichord has a range of just under four octaves and the largest just over five and a classical guitar has a range of just under four octaves. The instruments also share the same style of articulation of plucking their strings: the metal strings of the harpsichord are sounded by plucking with a small piece of material called a plectrum which is attached to the key mechanism, and on the guitar the strings are plucked by the fingertips and nails of the player. The short sustain of both instruments ensures no loss of the resonance and volume when transcribing pieces to the guitar. These similarities lead to the harpsichord repertoire being very playable upon the guitar.
Couperin was born into one of the best-known musical families of Europe. A prolific composer, organist and harpsichordist, he was known as 'Couperin le Grand' to distinguish him from other members of the musically talented Couperin family. Many of Couperin's compositions have descriptive, evocative titles. The three works featured here possess the qualities of tone poems, albeit in miniature form. At points the more adventurous harmony and darker central sections conjure the feeling of short musical journeys; this poetic quality begins with their picturesque titles, The Mysterious Barricades, Les Sylvains (from the woods) and Les tours de passe-passe (trick, sleight of hand).
Reverie - Alexandre Lagoya (1929-1999)
Alexandre Lagoya is best known as a performer and chamber musician not as a composer. His duos, firstly with his wife Ida Presti who was also a guitarist and then with the legendary flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, were hugely successful, producing many recordings and touring internationally. Lagoya was respected for playing that had elegance and great clarity. A gentle and enchanting piece, the Reverie was dedicated to Presti and is decorated with subtle quotations from other famous works, such as Canco del lladre the Catalan folk song set by composer Miguel Llobet. Tragically Ida Presti died at the age of 42 whilst the duo were on tour in America. Lagoya was unable to play for years after Presti's death. It wasn't until the early 1980s, at the advanced age of 52, that he burst back on the international scene with a record for Columbia and an international tour.
Arabesque En Forme De Caprice. Sur le Tombeau de Tárrega Op.99 - Francis Kleynjans (b.1951)
Kleynjans’ Arabesque is a melancholy and brooding work which pays tribute to the Spanish guitarist Francisco Tarrega and is dedicated to the Scottish guitarist David Russell. Born in Paris, Francis Kleynjans began his classical guitar studies at the age of 14. He studied with Alexandre Lagoya at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris and later with the renowned Venezuelan guitarist Alirio Diaz. Alongside the talent Kleyjans was displaying as a performer his compositional output was also gaining recognition. He was granted First Prize at the 22nd Paris Guitar Competition for his composition A l'aube du dernier jour and to date his output includes more than 400 pieces for guitar.
Serenade - Gustave Samazueilh (1877 - 1967)
The Serenade was composed in 1925 for the Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia; it is a rarely performed work of which there are only a handful of recordings in existence. Samazeuilh is arguably better known as a critic and a translator than as a composer. Writing critical studies of other composers such as Paul Dukas and translating into French masterpieces such as Tristan & Isolde, Samazeuilh was a regular contributor to the French music scene during of the first half of the twentieth century. Marrying typically Spanish techniques such as Rasgueado with delicate, elegant motifs akin to the writing of Debussy, the Serenade is a very attractive and perhaps under-appreciated addition to the guitar repertoire.
Songe Capricorne - Roland Dyens (b.1955)
"When Songe Capricorne was composed in the mid-90's, it reminded me a lot of another piece of mine I recorded on my very first "LP" in 1982 which was titled simply "Capricornes", it shares the same B minor key and atmosphere, since the French word "songe" means like day dream in English, it was a way to mean that it made me dream of oldest Capricornes". Roland Dyens
Flying Wigs - Roland Dyens (b.1955) "This could almost be the story of a dream. But it is not, because this is the true story, fortunately more humorous than serious, of what happened to a friend of mine in San Francisco. He was sitting in the back seat of a car between two other people, one of whom, on his right, was a superb young black woman. The traffic was moving normally when all of a sudden, and without any warning at all, the driver of the car braked to avoid some poor dog that was innocently trotting along in the middle of the highway. There was great confusion but no one had the least scratch as a result of what could have been a silly accident. But when my friend will never forget that fraction of a second when he saw his neighbour's wig shoot from one end of the car to the other, as in a dream." Roland Dyens (Translated by Mary Criswick) L'hymne al'amour - Marguerite Monnot (1903-1961) Arr. Roland Dyens (b.1955)
As a female composer of popular music in the early twentieth century, Marguerite Monnot was a trailblazer in her field. She was a classical pianist trained by her father and studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire with Nadia Boulanger, Vincent d’Indy, and Alfred Cortot. However, Monnot made the surprising move to composing popular music after ill health ended her career as a concert pianist at the age of eighteen. After writing her first commercially successful song, 'L'Étranger', in 1935, she met Édith Piaf, and by 1940 they became the first female song-writing team in France, remaining friends and collaborators throughout most of their lives. The lyrics to L'hymne al'amour were written by Edith Piaf and the music by Marguerite Monnot. The first performance is thought to have taken place when Piaf sang this song at the Cabaret Versailles in New York on September 14, 1949. It was written to her lover and the love of her life, the French boxer, Marcel Cerdan. On October 28, 1949 Cerdan was killed in a plane crash on his way from Paris to New York to see her. Piaf recorded the song on 2 May 1950.
Gnossienne No.1 - Erik Satie (1866-1925) Arr. Roland Dyens (b.1955)
Éric Satie signed his name Erik Satie after 1884. Satie was a colourful eccentric figure in the Parisian music scene of the 20th century. His output has been seen as a precursor to movements such as minimalism. In addition to his body of music, Satie also left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work to a range of publications, from the Dadaist 391 to the American top culture chronicle Vanity Fair. The Gnossiennes are a set of piano compositions that are, for the most part, in free time, lacking time signatures or bar divisions, experimenting with form, rhythm and harmony. The form, as well as the term, was invented by Satie. This arrangement to guitar was made by the French guitarist and composer Roland Dyens. A master arranger, Dyens has captured the introverted nature of this first Gnossienne and perfectly exploited the natural intimacy of the guitar to it's fullest. st Andrés Segovia; it i