This collection of classic guitar studies is intended for the intermediate guitarist. As a whole, these etudes emulate the content of Carcassi's famed 25 Etudes, yet in a more contemporary harmonic and rhythmic idiom. These pieces are also distinguished in that they are not only valuable as left and right-hand technical exercises, but also as valid, pleasurable concert repertoire.
This really is a great volume of pieces. Yes, they are quite contemporary and will probably introduce you to new sounds and musical ideas but they are also very accessible and cover a wide range of technical ability. Best of all they are very specific in their aims and goals and the music is notated in a lot of detail to help with the interpretation.
Each study has an indication of style/ tempo at the beginning such as Mesto, Allegro Comodo, Lento e ritardando and Lento piacevole. We need to know the meaning of these terms! There is also a sub title at the end of the piece that gives us a story line or feeling, for example Flocon de Neige, Les Grandes Jaunes, l’Indigo seul and Voiles rouges. Again understanding the meanings is vital and with the Internet these days there is really no excuse!
There are so many good tunes and interesting rhythms, and the studies are very valuable for technical development. Requirements include detailed chord voicing, fast repeated notes and chords, quick left hand movement around the fingerboard, arpeggio shapes and detailed right hand patterns, slur patterns, intricate articulation and sustaining long singing phrases. The harmonies are fantastic with strong musical direction and momentum guiding the player.
You really have to listen and the music is fingered in a way that keeps you on your toes and keeps you thinking.
For example in no.13 the temptation is to hold fingers down to cover repeated chords but the rhythmic character requires you to let go for clear articulation. When you get it right it creates a brilliantly quirky and fun piece of music. In no. 14 (AB grade 5) the voicing is indicated with stems, sometimes double and sometimes offset, and it is very important to play to these voices and concentrate on holding sustaining notes and letting go of others in the right places. This means that you have to be very aware which of your fingers are playing which notes!
Dynamic control is a highlight throughout the book. In no.3 (AB grade 5, Trinity grade 5) there are long crescendos and diminuendos over the repeated note patterns and changes in mood and key that need to be reflected. Slurring technique is well covered, which is great since it seems to be one of those techniques that we just do rather than learn.
From the lilting melody of no.4 (AB grade 7, Trinity grade 6) and the haunting mood of no.20 to the vivace slur patterns in no.7 (Trinity grade 4) and the rhythmical and complex no.17 where the slur pattern is often in the middle voice needing great technical control, there is certainly enough variety to keep your interest and so improve your technique. No. 22 is one of my particular favourites as it uses only a single written line but implies many voices and is excellent for phrasing and interpretation.
There is not really enough space here to talk about every study but I hope that I have been able to inspire you to play this music. It works on just about every technique that we need in a fun and engrossing way, so that you do not feel as if you are working on technique. Even more importantly it develops your reading and interpretation skills, it makes you think about technique related to music and it is completely satisfying!
There is so much to enjoy and to work with in this volume, developing important skills whilst enjoying some excellent music. I would say an essential book for all guitarists from grade 4 upwards.