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  • chrisdumigan

Bryan Johanson :Book of Little Treasures Vol.1: Preludes and Etudes/Volume 2: Songs and Dances :DOz

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Bryan Johanson

Les Productions D’Oz: (both volumes 23 pages)

This American guitarist/composer has produced many fascinating musical works, and this latest set of volumes ( there are 4 in the series ) are full of varied , involving and at times technically challenging pieces that are great fun to get your hands around.

Volume 1 has 21 short pieces of varying difficulty, but all serving a technical purpose in some form. So, for example No1 is a Spirito, semi-quaver arpeggio pattern in 7/16 grouped in 4, and then 3 but that moves around in an unexpected way, to keep you permanently on your toes. No3 is an unbarred two voices, where the mixtures of crotchets, dotted crotchets and quavers, and dotted quavers arrive in such an unusual fashion that I defy anyone to sight read this , useful and fun though it is ! Brioso plays around with pairs of notes , separated into demi-semi – quavers in a 3/16 time signature.No8 is an Allegro Molto, to be completely played pizzicato, whilst No12 is an Allegro Moderato full of hammer – ons and pull- offs in strings of unusually timed semi-quavers. No14 is a crazy and rather weird Waltz that could have come from the pen of Prokofiev, or a writer of that ilk, whereas No16 is an Adagio Molto that is unbarred, and has a constant flow of open B quavers against a second voice, sometimes above, more often below, with most unexpected time lengths, and as the piece has no time signature and is unbarred, it makes it very difficult!

Volume 2 is full of pieces from various countries, and my only criticism is that, with one or two exceptions, you aren’t told where they originate from, which would have been a nice, helpful touch. Kipriko, is a fabulous bouncy dance, that with a bit of internet searching, might just originate in Kenya. Set in Em often over a ground bass, it leaps around with a very attractive melody and makes a good opener for the book. Slow pieces alternate with the fast dances, and so you then find The Wind That Blows the Barley, in E a lilting melody sometimes below the harmonies, sometimes above, followed by The Cat and Mouse, that is very lively and sounds very much like an American melody I have heard before under a different title .There are pieces are varied as Lament for a Donkey, a movingly harmonized Gm melody, together with The Merry Merry Milkmaids, that is as bright and dance like as you might imagine. All of the pieces in this volume are very immediate, not too difficult and lots of fun

Both volumes are great fun, with Volume 1 more modern in style at times, but not too much so, and Volume 2 full of memorable melodies and engaging rhythms, and as such I can heartily recommend both of them.

Chris Dumigan

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