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The legend of Hagoromo

Aaron Larget-Caplan’s guitar recital of American and Japanese music


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Related Artists: Aaron Larget-Caplan

Catalogue Number: 5060192780567


Aaron Larget-Caplan’s The Legend of Hagoromo combines a conceptually strong programme with virtuosic and sensitive performances all-around. From the epic work of Fujii, meditative Takemistsu and Nakamura, to the charming arrangements of American and Japanese songs, this album will not disappoint guitarists or general listeners. More importantly, this is not just a random collection of concert works but a focused project with new music, artistic creativity, and vision. Highly recommended. (This is classical guitar)

What a fascinating program. Each of the works is connected in some way to Japan. Yes, even ‘Summertime’ and ‘Over the Rainbow’, both of which are arrangements by Toru Takemitsu. Japan’s most famous composer was also a prolific arranger of popular songs, including several by the Beatles. His arrangements are challenging and rich, though a bit overdone for my taste—like too much makeup on a beautiful woman. Larget-Caplan plays them both with evident affection. Only two works here are familiar, Takemitsu’s ‘Equinox’ and Leo Brouwer’s ‘Hika, in Memoriam Toru Takemitsu’. Both are free and evocative, dissonant but still mostly tonal; and Larget-Caplan handles their challenges as well as any recording I know. There are three world premieres, written for the guitarist. Ken Ueno’s ‘Ed è Subito Sera’ and Kota Nakamura’s ‘Sui-hou’ were both for Larget-Caplan’s New Lullaby Project (http://www. Martin Max Schreiner reverses Takemitsu and arranges two Japanese songs in ‘Two Japanese Idylls’. Ueno and Schreiner both use bent notes and microtones as one might hear on the Koto. But the heart of this release is the title piece, Keigo Fujii’s Legend of Hagoromo. It is based legend of a fisherman who falls in love with a heavenly maiden who can fly with her feathered kimono, and musically grows out of a mode from Okinawa. After the beginning, the entire piece seems to be based on a single harmony, exploring that mode without any western-style progression. Tension arises from the rhythmic pulse, as notes, microtones, and percussion effects swirl together to create an amazing energy. It’s an emotional and technical tour de force, and Larget-Caplan carries us on this mythical journey with irresistible mastery. Larget-Caplan is based in Boston, on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts there, and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. Kudos for this imaginative and beautifully executed program. (American Record Guide)

When a disc is subtitled “American and Japanese music for classical guitar”, it’s a safe bet that Toru Takemitsu will be featured. Here, Takemitsu shows up as composer of “Equinox” and arranger of “Over the Rainbow” and “Summertime”. Although not generally perceived as a crowd-puller, Takemitsu enjoys the status of a composer’s composer, Leo Brouwer being one high-ranking figure who has paid tribute on more than one occasion. On the is disc “Equinox” is preceded by Brouwer’s “Hika, in Memoriam Toru Takemitsu”. However, the collection is dominated by Keigo Fujii’s epic single-movemented title track. Based on a poignant Asian legend retold in the performer’s notes, Fujii’s kaleidoscopic creation is at times reminiscent of Oliver Hunt’s underrated “Garuda”, with which it shares the imagery of extended flight. Aaron Larget-Caplan emerges from this marathon workout as a performer with all the skill and energy to deliver a truly remarkable contemporary work that has yet to receive the recognition it deserves. Elsewhere, more modestly proportioned contemporary offerings are the order of the day, with Ken Ueno, Kota Nakamura, and Martin Max Schreiner contributing works that run under ten minutes. All are billed as premieres and all, including the Schreiner, lean toward the Japanese side of the equation, making the Takemitsu arrangements referred to above the de facto representatives of the American element on this eclectic and endlessly rewarding release. (Classical Guitar Review)

A delicious and poetic interpretation … To write that [Larget­Caplan] has something to boast about would be to say too little, the guitarist is not afraid of any tempo, with each increasingly spectacular fragment coming through not only with lightness, but with recklessness (maybe wildness or spontaneity) … The interpretation is refined, every phrase flattering, every sound consciously derived. This artist approaches the played pieces with enormous respect, trying to above all reveal the idea of the composer. (Six Strings)

According to a famous Japanese legend, a fisherman is walking with his companions at night when he finds the Hagoromo, the magical feather-mantle of a tennin (an aerial spirit or celestial dancer) hanging on a bough. The tennin sees him taking it and demands its return as she cannot return to Heaven without it. The fisherman argues with her, and finally promises to return it, if she will show him her dance or part of it. She accepts his offer and in the finale, the tennin disappears like a mountain slowly hidden in mist. The evocative Legend of Hagoromo is a modern musical masterpiece written by Keigo Fujii and based on a melody by Okinawan composer H Yamanoha. A substantial addition to the classical guitar repertoire that uses guitar techniques in an innovative way, it is the longest work on this outstanding album of Japanese-influenced music played by the gifted American virtuoso guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan. Comprising an intoxicating mixture of Japanese and American music, this fusion-recital is brilliantly conceived and performed and the disc includes a number of première recordings (Ken Ueno’s Ed è subito sera, Kota Nakamura’s Sui-hou and Martin Max Schreiner’s Two Japanese idylls). Other works include Tora Takemitsu’s Equinox as well as his arrangements of Harold Arlen’s Wizard of Oz and George Gershwin’s Summertime (from Porgy and Bess). Some of the music was written specifically for Larget-Caplan’s and he performs here with stunning vitality, especially on Keigo Fujii’s mesmerising single movement tour-de-force. (New Classics)

Aaron Larget-Caplan is a riveting artist. His classical guitar performance was a treasure. (The Washington Post)

Astounding technical proficiency and artistic delicacy (Boston Music Intelligencer)

The magnificent musical talent of Aaron Larget-Caplan is indeed a gift for the senses. (Dreamvisions 7 Radio Network)

Your enthusiasm and virtuosity entices listeners both old & young to experience the magic of the concert hall for themselves (Fanfare)

Track listing
  1. Fujii: The legend of Hagoromo
  2. Brouwer: Hika, in memoriam Toru Takemitsu
  3. Takemitsu: Equinox
  4. Ueno: Ed è subito sera
  5. Nakamura: Sui-hou
  6. Arlen: Over the rainbow
  7. Gershwin: Summertime
  8. Schreiner: Japanese idyll no.1
  9. Schreiner: Japanese idyll no.2