Please feel free to browse and enjoy the large and varied collection of my arrangements and recordings on the Publications and Recordings pages. Most of these items are now available through the links to Clear Note Publications and other outlets. Check out the blog below for my latest happenings and publications. Happy hunting on my site!
Giulio Tampalini plays Gregg’s lively arrangement for guitar and chamber orchestra of the lighthearted folksong Aire de Joropo in Brescia, Italy.
Clear Note has published Gregg’s Music Plus One arrangement of Aire de Joropo for guitar and chamber orchestra that comes with a play-along CD. Joropo is a musical style resembling the fandango, and an accompanying dance. It has African, Native South American and European influences and originated in parts of what is now Venezuela. It is a fundamental genre of música criolla (creole music) and is a very popular folk rhythm making use of polyrhythmic patterns, especially of hemiola, and alternation of 3/4 and 6/8 tempos.
Aire de joropo has been a popular folk song played by classical guitarists for a number of years. This guitar and orchestra fantasy was arranged by Gregg Nestor as an encore piece for a London concert in 1980.
Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912) was a French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty. He also composed oratorios, ballets, orchestral works, incidental music, piano pieces, songs and other music.
From Schoolboy to Popular Composer
While still a schoolboy, Massenet was admitted to France’s principal music college, the Paris Conservatoire. There he studied under Ambroise Thomas, whom he greatly admired. After winning the country’s top musical prize, the Prix de Rome, in 1863, he composed prolifically in many genres, but quickly became best known for his operas. Between 1867 and his death forty-five years later he wrote more than forty stage works in a wide variety of styles, from opéra-comique to grand-scale depictions of classical myths, romantic comedies, lyric dramas, as well as oratorios, cantatas and ballets.
Massenet had a good sense of the theatre and of what would succeed with the Parisian public. Despite some miscalculations, he produced a series of successes that made him the leading composer of opera in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Both the Méditation and the Élégie, here arranged for Violin and guitar by Gregg Nestor, remain one of the composers most beloved creations. They can be successfully programmed separately or together for concerts.
Ancient Airs and Dances – Suite No. 1 – Ottorino Respighi – for Guitar Quartet
Balletto detto „Il Conde Orlando“ Gagliarda e La Volta Villanella „Orlando fa’ che ti raccordi“ Passo Mezzo Bonissimo e Mascherada
Respighi’s Early Life
Ottorino Respighi (July 9, 1879 – April 18, 1936) was born in Bologna, Italy. He was taught piano and violin by his father, who was a local piano teacher. He continued studying violin and viola with Federico Sarti at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna, composition with Giuseppe Martucci, and historical studies with Luigi Torchi, a scholar of early music. In 1900, Respighi went to Russia to be principal violist in the orchestra of the Russian Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg during its season of Italian opera; while there he studied composition for five months with Rimsky-Korsakov. He also had composition lessons with Max Bruch in 1902 in Berlin. Until 1908 his principal activity was as first violin in the Mugellini Quintet, before turning his attention entirely to composition.
Music Scholar and Composer
In his role as musicologist, Respighi was also an enthusiastic scholar of Italian music of the 16th-18th centuries, and was one of the first symphonic composers to have a strong interest in early music. He was actively involved in the modern editions of works by Monteverdi and other 17th- and 18th-century masters, and was fascinated by lute music from the Renaissance and early Baroque. This repertory had just become available in modern editions prepared by an Italian scholar named Oscar Chilesotti (1848-1916), a pioneer in the deciphering of the old lute notation (the so-called “tablature”). Chilesotti published several volumes of solo lute pieces and lute songs in modern scores, transcribing the accompaniment for piano in the spirit of the time.
Airs and Dances “Reverse Engineered” for Guitar Quartet
In arranging these “ancient airs and dances,” Respighi wanted to create instrumental parts that 20th-century orchestral players would find interesting. In a form of reverse engineering, guitarist Gregg Nestor has adapted two of these orchestral suites for guitar quartet.
Critical reception for the Duo Sonidos Wild Dance CD with William Knuth on violin and Adam Levin on guitar has been very positive. This Wild Dance CD includes a number of Gregg’s excellent arrangements. Here is one of the reviews of this fine recording:
Clear Note has recently published Manuel Ponce’s song cycle Seis Poemas Arcaicos in a fine arrangement for voice and guitar by Gregg Nestor (with audio download). Along with these six lovely songs, this publication also includes Gregg’s rendition of Estrellita for voice and guitar. Estrellita is one of Ponce’s most famous songs.
This song cycle was composed in Mexico City in the year 1939. Chronologically in the context of Ponce’s eight song cycles, it occupies the next-to-last position, succeeded only by the cycle entitled Three Poems by Enrique González Martínez, written between 1939 and 1940.
The texts that served to inspire his compositions were gleaned from
the Cancionero de Palacio, an ancient musical codex found in Madrid that
had belonged to the Catholic kings and which comprised the broadest
catalogue of polyphonic profane songs of the time period at the end of
the 15th Century and the beginning of the 16th. This important codex was
later published on two occasions: first in 1890, when it was edited by
Spanish composer-musicologist Asenjo Barbieri (1824-1894), under the
title Cancionero Musical de los siglos XV y XVI; and secondly, in 1947
and 1951, when it was edited by Catalonian musicologist Higinio Anglés
(1888-1969). Ponce was familiar with the Barbieri edition, and indeed he
possessed a volume of it in his private library.
Mexico, D. F., May, 2011
Ponce studied in Paris for a time, where he befriended Andrés Segovia, among others. He wrote more than forty works for the guitar, and fifty popular songs and song cycles. With its beautiful melody and poignant verse, his beloved Estrellita, arranged here by Gregg Nestor, is a classic in song literature.
Seis Poemas Arcaicos and Estrellita have been recorded by
guitarist Gregg Nestor and soprano Anna Bartos on their CD Cantares
(Townhall Records THCD-44).
The Wild Dance CD collection, the first of three volumes by Duo Sonidos, unleashes a wellspring of exciting new transcriptions culled from the rich repertoire of vocal and violin chamber music, previously deemed unthinkable on the guitar. This colourful mosaic of 20th-century music, from Rodrigo’s affectionately lyrical Cuatro canciones sefardíesto John Williams’ haunting theme from the film Schindler’s List, unveils the hidden world of charm and intimate expressivity provided by Gregg Nestor’s skillful and sensitive arrangements.
Great Selection of Composers and Music
The complete list of composers on this CD is varied and impressive: Lukas Foss; George Gershwin; Erich Wolfgang Korngold; Manuel María Ponce; Maurice Ravel; Joaquín Rodrigo; Karol Szymanowski; John Williams. The music is equally varied and impressive. For example, you will find wonderful arrangements of old favorites like Gershwin’s It Ain’t Necessarily So and less well-known but delightful pieces like Wild Dance by Szymanowski. It is a joy to hear the fine interpretations of these composers by Duo Sonidos with William Knuth on violin and Adam Levin on guitar.
Gregg has made a beautiful violin and guitar arrangement of the famous song Estrellita by Manuel Ponce. This arrangement is now available in an excellent edition from Clear Note. It comes with an MP3 download rendition of the song by the excellent Duo Sonidos with William Knuth on violin and Adam Levin on guitar.
Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce (1882-1948) studied in Paris, where he befriended Andrés Segovia, among others. He wrote more than forty works for the guitar, and fifty popular songs and song cycles. With its beautiful melody and poignant verse, his beloved Estrellita, is a classic in song literature.
The excellent song cycle Poema en forma de canciones by Joaquín Turina has been recorded by Soprano Ursula Maria Kleinecke, accompanied by guitarists Adam Pettit and Gregg Nestor, and is included as a download with this edition. The music and recording are available here. The songs are as follows:
Los dos miedos
Las locas por amor
My music is the expression of the feeling of a true Sevillian who did not know Seville until he left it… yet, it is necessary for the artist to move away to get to know his country, just as it is for the painter who takes some steps backwards to be able to take in the complete picture. Joaquín Turina
Joaquín Turina’s successful synthesis of the early-twentieth-century French School and Andalusian folklore, embodied in the classical genres of chamber music, was no small feat. As a Spanish composer seeking to express his national identity through chamber music, he had very few precedents to emulate. Falla and Albéniz advised Turina to embrace his heritage as an Andalusian musician. Albéniz is reported to have said: You must base your art on Spanish popular song, on Andalusian music, because you are from Seville. In later years Turina would recall this conversation saying: Those words were decisive for me, [and] they are a piece of advice that I have tried to follow throughout my career.
The result of this encounter with Albéniz and Falla was an outpouring of music that established Turina as one of the outstanding Spanish composers of the early twentieth century. Nearly all of his works bore allusions to Spain, and more specifically to Andalusia.
Here is another delightful video by Duo Vitare playing Gregg’s arrangement of Ching-a-Ring Chaw.from Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs,” Set 2. This was originally a minstrel song in a dialect. The song tells how wonderful it is in “the promised land.”
Gregg and Duo Vitare worked together to create the lovely video of the Ravel Chanson Romanesque from Don Quichotte à Dulcinée that you see above. The video even includes an elegant dance interpretation of the work. Duo Vitare does a great job with Gregg’s arrangement of the Ravel piece for cello and guitar. You can find this arrangement and many others in the Gregg Nestor Collection on the Clear Note website.