Nine compositions aiming to broaden the repertoire of the intermediate guitarist. The most fun I have had in ages, if you are searching for music to challenge the player and give pleasure to the audience this is definately for you.
I first started to play these pieces a week ago and I am already completely hooked!
They are beautifully simple in concept and very aptly named. John seems to have a knack of putting across expressive ideas in relatively few notes, and not asking the guitarist to perform acrobatics, ensuring that you can enjoy the music!
I was immediately attracted to the high levels of interpretation and musicianship being asked for. All the pieces work at many levels; if you are working up to this technical level the pieces will sound good without too much control of sound and dynamics, but if you are more advanced you can still get loads of enjoyment from the music by challenging yourself on matters of colour and shape.
The amount of instruction in the book is excellent. Each piece has a description that varies from the origin of, or inspiration for the piece, to technical instruction and musical goals.
The introduction on the title page briefly explains the history of the pieces and ideas for performance; for example as a continuous suite, individually or in smaller suites created by grouping three or four pieces together.
These are great ideas for students embarking on their first performances, and for more experienced players developing their musicianship.
The phrasing, dynamic and articulation markings are very detailed throughout giving you plenty to work with that will help you to bring out the shape and character of each piece.
The first section of First Light is made up of long legato chords asking for lots of dynamic control and it finishes with a simple but beautiful quaver melody.
Road to the Hills and The Traveller are more lively and rhythmical while Edge of Storm uses low dissonances and a throbbing bass line for dramatic effect.
Serenade pays homage to Erik Satie's famous Gymnopedie No 1 for piano and Walton's 2nd Bagatelle for guitar asking for a legato melody line with accompaniment very much in the background.
The rhythm in Milonga is easy to highlight and great fun to play.
Introduction and Tango is very cleverly written with two simple voices that fit together and bring out the spirit of the dance perfectly.
Late Night contrasts a slow, broody introduction (great melody), with a lively swing rhythm and the collection is brought to a close by the haunting Beneath the Stars where the bass melody is backed by a fast but gentle open string arpeggio, finishing with the melody from First Light in harmonics, dying away.
The most important aspect of this collection for me, and, for that matter, of being a guitarist, is summed up by John at the end of his introduction;
"I hope you enjoy playing these pieces and bringing them to life…"