Your Chance To Contribute To Guitar Trek’s New Album

Happy Australia Day for all my Aussie readers! Yes, here in the Land Down Under we’re celebrating our national day with lamb chops and snags on the barbie, cold beers and some good Aussie music.

But in amongst the INXS, Midnight Oil, John Farnham and Jimmy Barnes, I’ll also be listening to some great Aussie classical guitar music (how could I not, really?!). And some of that great Aussie classical guitar music I’ll definitely listening to is the Aussie guitar quartet, Guitar Trek.

Guitar Trek was launched in 1987 to showcase the Guitar Family (treble, standard, baritone & bass). Canberra-based Timothy Kain is the founding member of Guitar Trek. The current line up includes Timothy Kain, Minh Le Hoang, Bradley Kunda and Matt Withers.

Matt and the rest of the guys in Guitar Trek have launched a crowd funding campaign giving you the chance to contribute directly to their latest recording. The various donation options available also give you the opportunity to score some fantastic rewards including track and album downloads, signed albums, concert tickets, lessons with one the quartet and even your own private concerts.

Check it out here: http://pozi.be/guitartrek

Guitar Trek are aiming to start recording in June and releasing a brand new recording in October this year.

Apparently, the recording will venture into new territory for the quartet with an array of shorter pieces from many different countries and corners of the repertoire. We’re also told to be prepared for a few surprises! Sounds exciting!

Donations will be used to fund 3 days at the prestigious Studio 301 in Sydney, the services of a Sound Engineer for recording, editing and mastering, packaging manufacture, APRA/AMCOS Copyright and venue hire for the launch concert.

If you’re not familiar with Guitar Trek, check out this video of them performing Aussie composer Nigel Westlake’s Sling Jaw Wrasse the fourth movement from the suite Six Fish:

Good luck guys!

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New Album Review – Bach on Fire by Lily Afshar

Once again I am in the privileged position as a classical guitar blog writer to receive an advance copy of the latest recording from one of the planet’s finest guitarist. This month it is the latest recording from the wonderful Lily Afshar.

It only seems a moment ago that Lily was releasing her last album with October 2013’s Musica da Camera (which we, of course, featured a review of too. Check it out here.)

Bach On Fire

Bach On Fire (Archer Recordings) is Afshar’s seventh offering and, as the name suggests, takes us through some of J.S. Bach’s most cracking works including Cello Suites, PreludeFugue & AllegroLute Suites and Ave Maria. As Lily so clearly demonstrates through her own personal transcriptions of lute and cello works, Bach certainly indeed was on fire. As is Afshar herself at the moment. Not only is this recording following on only six months (or thereabouts from the previous recording), but all the transcriptions on the album are transcriptions that Lily has made herself – this record should be called Lily on Fire!

Bach on Fire draws its title from these innovative arrangements of Afshar’s. These, according to the woman herself, allow for more interpretive phrasing and dynamic nuance and, ultimately, a more exciting performance. And to be honest this really does come through in the recording. The music, which is music we’re all very familiar with, has a fantastically fresh and vibrant quality to it. That’s no mean feat I can tell you. Kudos to Afshar.

Bach on Fire features:

  • Lute Suite No. 4 in E Major, BWV 1006a
  • Cello Suite No. 1, BWV 1007, 
  • Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro, BWV 998, 
  • Cello Suite No. 3, BWV 1009
  • Ave Maria

My particular favourite on the album is the arrangement of Cello Suite No. 1 (BWV 1007) – the Courante has that sprightly, “running” quality that a courante should have. Lily also manages to really capture the warmth and depth of the cello, with very clear lines (so important in Bach), and making the music sound as if the guitar is its natural home. I must get my hands on a copy of this score.

I must also make mention of Ave Maria too which, for me, is one of those tunes that usually makes me go “ohhh, not again….“. In this instance though, Lily manages to capture and communicate the simple beauty inherent in the music. A simple, unfussy, clear arrangement that, again, sits so very well on the instrument. Listening to this recording makes me feel rather excited and want to play it all for myself! On fire indeed!

 

Afshar’s new arrangements are the result of many years of experimentation and watching students struggle to play Bach. Knowing that the amount of bass notes and poor fingerings posed a technical challenge for most players, Afshar employed techniques like cross-string fingerings to make the music sound as if it were written for the guitar.

After years of using whiteout, pencil and eraser to adapt other Bach guitar arrangements, I decided to make my own editions from scratch,” she says. Afshar arranged 42 Bach movements which were published by Mel Bay in 2013 as Essential Bach: Arranged for the guitar by Lily Afshar. (Note to self: I must check this out!).

This recording offers a fresh approach to playing Bach,” Afshar writes in the album’s liner notes. “My purpose is to make Bach accessible to a wider audience and encourage guitarists to play them more. Many others have arranged Bach pieces for the guitar, but my arrangements are quite different.”

Whether you’re a lover of classical guitar, Bach, or want to hear what some absolutely top-notch arrangements of some of Bach’s seminal works played by a top-notch guitarist you definitely need to check out Bach on Fire.

Album out June 3 via Archer Records

 

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