Pasquale Bianculli : A Dozen for Dozin’-12 Lullabies and Folk – Songs arranged for solo guitar
Bergmann Edition: 38 pages
If I say that the pieces involved herald from Germany, Mexico, Catalonia, South Africa (2 of them), Norway, Japan, France, Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, and Wales you will begin to get the idea of the scope of this fascinating book. I personally knew three of these 12 pieces, and had never come across the other nine before. Firstly there is a six page very detailed introduction telling the player everything he or she might want to know about the pieces involved, which are in notation and tab throughout the book.
The opener is the very famous Wiegenlied Op49 No4 by Johannes Brahms, with a dropped D 6th in the fey on F Major. Immediately one is impressed by its quiet dignity and imaginative voicings, which, without access to the original, I can only assume are as near to the original as possible.
Mexican folk song De Colores is a beautiful and lively tune, harmonised almost completely in three voices often as three note chords and yet constantly moving around in a most melodic way. There are a couple of large stretches in this one, but nothing that can’t be done with a bit of practice.
EL Noi De La Mare is next but bears no similarities to the Llobet version you may already know. He has gone back to the original 6/8 feel but given it a rocking bassline that makes it sound quite different to what you might be otherwise expecting.
The South African song O Thula Mtwana is a dropped D 6th, D Major arpeggiated piece, where the arpeggio takers the form of a drone over which the beautiful melody sits perfectly naturally.
Jacob Gerhard Meidell (1778-1857) is the composer of the Norwegian Lullaby, and again has a dropped D 6th and is again in D Major, and is a beautiful piece of writing, very peaceful, with warm harmonies and a lovely sound world.
The Traditional Japanese Edo Komoriuta is to be played Ponticello without any vibrato throughout and is meant to be mimicking the Koto and the Shamisen, especially with touches of percussion and tremolo and RH harmonics.
The French traditional lullaby Fais dodo, Colas mon p’tit frere( Go to sleep , Colas , my little brother) is another work in D Major and 6/8 is a very simple repetitive tune that Bianculli has varied throughout to give it more interest, and the result is a lovely arrangement.
The other South African piece, Thula Mtwana might seem the same piece as the other South African song, earlier in the book, but it appears to be utterly different, and is a full of small phrases that change time from 6/8, to 2/4 constantly, and again is set in D major with a dropped 6th to D.
Dandansoy, from the Philippines is a love song from the Visayan region, quite different in sound from all the previous, and yet has an endearing melody and some attractive passage work below it, and is another highlight of the set.
Polish Lulajze Jexuniu , a Christmas Lullaby song has an almost hymnal quality to it, and it is a Larghetto that has less moving voices than nearly all of the other pieces, but is nevertheless very pretty.
Ukrainian Lullaby, Goyda Goyda Goy, with its mix of 6/8 and 5/8 is beautifully dark and serious and the mix of times moves seamlessly from one to the next without seeming forced. There are a number of variations to the melody in this version, and this is an outstanding arrangement of this melancholy tune.
The book finishes with All Through The Night , the Welsh melody that most will know, and is yet again an imaginative arrangement in G major with a dropped D 6th and a dropped G 5th ( although the book does switch those two tunings round, the only misprint I could find!).
This is a lovely book of some wonderful tunes that are very varied in their musical qualities, so there really is something for everyone here. The difficulty factor is moderate /intermediate and the tab does help in a few places where you wonder how certain areas are being voiced. This is definitely a book to go searching for!