One Fell Swoop CD by Stephen Aron
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Aron states that "The impetus for this project came from the desire to create an entire concert program of original music that has the same variety a conventional program typically has." To that end he has written an hour-long program of solo guitar works that pays homage to several musical traditions. Included are pieces that embrace the Impressionism of Ravel, the Baroque suites of J. S. Bach, and the stride piano style of Fats Waller. Aron also adds his own sound to the collection in a work inspired by romantic and modernist traditions with the multi-dimensional title track One Fell Swoop.
The program opens with Three Musings, beginning with a movement inspired by French Impressionist textures entitled Ambivalence. The second movement, Regret, uses the tremolo technique and is inspired by the romantic works of Agustin Barrios Mangore. Tremolo is a well known classical guitar technique that involves using the thumb to play an accompaniment to a higher melody of rapidly repeated notes plucked by three fingers. This creates the uncanny illusion of two instruments being played at once. This work concludes with a fantasy, based on a short phrase drawn from the American blues tradition entitled Serendipity.
The next piece, Bach On Guitar is Aron’s effort to mimic the style of the great master himself, in what the author playfully imagines could be a lost Baroque dance suite. Included are all the movements of a conventional Baroque suite, not unlike one Bach might have written for the harpsichord or lute.
One Fell Swoop is the most modern work in the collection. The opening section is a nod to the Romantic era, complete with sweeping vocal-style lines. The second section moves in a more contemporary direction, using a repeated descending melodic line in a myriad of ways to explore a range of contrapuntal textures and modern harmonies. This second section is offset by a contemplative, almost chorale-like interlude. Much of the unique quality of the work is achieved through the use of an unusual tuning for the guitar.
Finally, Rockport Stomp is an old fashioned finger-style jazz romp, modeled on the stride piano playing of the legendary Fats Waller. Sometimes ragtime, sometimes swing, it captures the bright and cheerful sound of the early American 20th century.
Program Notes – Karl Wolff