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Arr. Stanley Yates : Concert Arrangements for Guitar Vol 1.: Classical Guitar Study Editions

Music from the Classical – Romantic Period arranged by Stanley Yates

Classical Guitar Study Editions: 101 pages

By now, the greater majority of you will know that if Stanley Yates puts his name to anything, it will be worth looking at or listening to, and this latest large book is no exception.With 12 pages of introduction and notes about the 18 pieces inside, you find out an awful lot about the items you are about to see, some of them you might have seen in other arrangements before, but quite a few that I personally have never seen guitar arrangements of anywhere else.

Two pieces by Albeniz open the book, firstly Cataluna (Curranda) set here in E minor, and quite a different version from his previous arrangement in A Minor that can still be found in his Mel Bay publication of Twenty Six Pieces Arranged for Guitar, and definitely proving to have more guitaristic capabilities, in the sound and the cross – string playing. The second piece is deliberately called a paraphrase by Stanley, as it is the complete La Vega (La Alhambra No1), a huge piano solo that in his own words defied his attempt to produce it literally on the guitar. So what we get here is a ten and a half minutes, eleven page reduction and recomposition that makes no attempt to replicate its original formal structure. However he describes it, it is a really worthwhile piece, full of the Albeniz sound and whilst it is difficult, it is well worth getting it under your fingers, as it would make a considerable concert piece for many players.

Three Bagatelles by Beethoven are next, and vary from the very short one numbered WoO61a in his catalogue to the extremely guitaristic Op126 No2, here moved to Am from its original Gm, to the final Fur Elise often described as Bagatelle 25, and definitely the most difficult of the three, but with everything in it very suitable for the guitar and cleverly arranged.

Chopin is next; not the most obvious of composers to try and arrange for guitar, one might think! The short and extremely chord based Prelude Op28 No20 , here transposed to Am from Cm , is certainly one that does work, as I have seen this arranged before several times. However the 9 minutes of Ballade No1 Op23 is one that I haven’t. Stanley has said that his version has had to have its texture reduced somewhat, to accommodate the pianistic original onto the guitar, but apart from that it is all structurally there, and quite a piece that has great deal of musical depth, as well as being an exceptional piece for an advanced guitarist to play.

We are in perhaps more familiar territory with two pieces from Manuel De Falla, The Dance of the Corregidor, and The Millers Dance (Farruca) both very well known on the guitar from other arrangements and recordings, but here produced for the first time by Stan Yates, in what prove to be very playable , and lots of fun besides.

Two Spanish Dances by Granados, the Oriental (No2), and the Villanesca (No4) are next.No2 the Oriental is more often seen and heard on 2 guitars, as for example, one of my most favourite guitar recordings ever, by Presti – Lagoya .Here it is arranged onto one guitar with a lot of cross- stringing fitted cleverly into the moving melody and harmony lines, so that it really does work. The Villanesca is set in G with dropped D 6th and dropped G 5th and for anyone that doesn’t know it, is a really fun piece (as indeed all 12 of the dances are!) and fits superbly onto one guitar, with perhaps the Gm middle section requiring a little more work on the player’s behalf than the G major opening section.

Haydn’s Lute Divertimento , again with a dropped D 6th and dropped G 5th is set in 6 movements and a fascinating work that I did not know previously, and a work that is constantly involving for the player, and listener alike. A real find!

Virtuoso violinist Fritz Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro, might not seem like a piece that would be suitable for the guitar but this was originally a pastiche by Kreisler written by him but attributed deliberately by him to Gaetano Pugnani (1731 – 1798)It was only discovered as being by Kreisler 25 years later. Therefore the piece has a wonderful style that deliberately sounds mid to late 18th century , and fits wonderfully onto the guitar , and is quite a recital piece for some player .It moves swiftly around the fretboard in multiple arpeggiations and runs and never lets up until the final coda.

Two pieces from Mozart, the 2- movement Fantasy in Dm, and surprisingly, the Overture to Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) would again seem unlikely candidates for successful arranging, but they work really well. The Dm Fantasy, consisting of an opening Andante and an Allegretto is surprisingly guitaristic and has some great moments whilst the Overture is an arrangement from a piano reduction that Stan Yates discovered and is again a significant piece of substantial difficulty but a great work out for any advanced player, and I would estimate a really fun piece for an audience, who really wouldn’t be expecting such a work by Mozart on the guitar.

Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op3 No2 in C#m is one of those piano pieces that has so many notes that any reduction onto the guitar would not sound quite as good as the original, and even Stan Yates agrees that putting the original 3 staves of block chords onto one six stringed instrument would be reducing its sound world somewhat. It works really well, but for once I think it’s not as impactful on the guitar as the piano original.

The final two pieces are by Mikhail Vysotsky , a Russian 7 – string guitarist, i.e. the instrument that is tuned to an open G chord and therefore is quite different from our guitar. The first piece is a short Prelude in E minor a very fiery work that races around and could act as an opening to the more substantial Theme and Variations, (now moved to Em from F#m ) whose 6 variations are full of pyrotechnics including slurs , campanella runs, and a multitude of very small notes, all of considerable difficulty, but wonderful to get your fingers around when you have the technical ability, and another real find for players who are not familiar with the Russian 7 – string repertoire.

So all in all this is a wonderful book, with a number of considerable surprises .yes you need to be a considerably good player to cope with the majority of this book, but if you are, then there are some wonderful finds to be had here. Give it a try!

Chris Dumigan

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