Though far from prolific as a composer – by day he was a scientist – Alexander Borodin nevertheless earned a secure place in the history of Russian music. As a creative spirit, Borodin was the most accomplished of the Russian nationalists composers. He had a particular gift for the distinctive stripe of exoticism so evident in his most frequently performed work, the Polovetsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor.
Under the influence of Mily Balakirev, whom he met in 1862, Borodin became interested in applying elements of Russian folk music to works for the concert hall and stage.
In 1953, the musical “Kismet” was created using melodies composed by Borodin. In this case the Gliding Dance of the Maidens (Polovetsian Dance No. 17) was used as the basis of the enormously popular song Stranger in Paradise. The song in the musical is a lovers’ duet and describes the transcendent feelings that love brings to their surroundings. Here it is adapted by Gregg Nestor for guitar quartet.
This enjoyable suite includes the following selections:
Laura soave, Balletto con Gagliarda Saltarello
Danza Rustica – Jean-Baptiste Besard
Campanae Parisienses – Aria – Anonymous Mersenne Mari
Bergamasca – Bernardo Gianoncelli
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.
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.
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.
Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei Op. 47 Hebrew Melody for Cello and Guitar
Max Bruch (1838-1920) had a long career as a teacher, conductor, and composer, moving among musical posts in Germany: Mannheim (1862-1864), Koblenz (1865-1867), Sondershausen (1867-1870), Berlin (1870-1872), and Bonn, where he spent 1873-78 working privately. At the height of his career he spent three seasons as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society (1880-83).
Kol Nidrei Op. 47, was one of the first pieces he set about composing when he took up his post as Principal Conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1880. It was composed specifically for Liverpool’s Jewish community, taking as its inspiration two traditional Hebrew melodies. The first, heard at the outset, originates from the traditional Jewish service on the night of Yom Kippur; the second is an extract from a musical setting of the Byron poem “Those that Wept on Babel’s stream”.
Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei Op. 47 Hebrew Melody for Violin and Guitar
The success of Kol Nidreiled to the assumption by many that Bruch was of Jewish ancestry. There is no evidence, however, that Bruch was Jewish. He was a Protestant in 1880s Berlin, but knew the city’s cantor-in-chief, Abraham Lichtenstein. Bruch learned the Kol Nidre melody and others from the Lichtenstein family. He loved the beauty of these tunes.
This much beloved composition is shown in a new and intimate light through the adaptation for cello and guitar as well as violin and guitar by Gregg Nestor, and should prove to be exciting and welcome additions to duo and chamber ensemble repertoire.
Gregg turned his attention to solo guitar for this enjoyable collection of Jewish folk tunes that he dedicated to his two grandmothers. Hebraic Rhapsody: Traditional Jewish Melodies for Solo Guitar includes a suite of seven different tunes with lively dances like Hassidic Dance and touching songs like My Yiddische Momma.
The guitar has long been associated with folk music and composers over the centuries have been indebted to folk songs. One only has to think of Schubert, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bartók, Dvorák, Vaughan Williams, Brahms, Grainger, Britten, etc., to realise the extent of this umbilical relationship between so called “art” music and the folkloric.
Gregg Nestor’s arrangements of Hebrew folksongs for solo guitar are a rich reminder of the generations of anonymous musicians whose creativity endures in a wealth of traditional works. This Hebraic Rhapsody comprises melodies that were rooted in everyday living, centered around the Rabbi, the hearth, parents, and the dance, etc.- music and daily routines being inextricably intertwined. Here the emphasis is on community life and family relationships, though dance rhythms and religious cadences are never far away.
Austrian-born Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), unquestionably one of the greatest composers in history, began his career as a 6-year-old piano prodigy touring Europe with his father (Leopold, 1719-1787) and sister (Maria Anna, or “Nannerl,” 1751-1829), and he absorbed and mastered all the contemporary musical trends he was exposed to along the way.
When Mozart reached the ripe old age of seven he made the acquaintance of Joseph Leutgeb (1732-1811), one of his father’s colleagues and a leading horn virtuoso of the day. Leutgeb remained a lifelong friend, and Mozart wrote his horn concertos specifically for him – the autograph copies of the solo horn part even includes personal and ribald messages from the composer to the performer.
Mozart Concerto in D for Guitar and String Quartet
The Mozart Concerto in D was composed in 1791. This version, newly arranged for guitar and piano as well as for guitar and string quartet by Gregg Nestor using the composers original orchestration, is the only one out of four that was written in the key of D Major, and contains no slow second movement, perhaps due to the composer’s untimely passing.
We are grateful to Dr. Lin He, Associate Professor of Violin, Louisiana State University who contributed to refinements of the guitar and string quartet edition.
Zoltán Kodály occupied a position in Hungary much like that of Vaughan Williams in the United Kingdom: as the great national composer who, by his discovery and creative use of his folk-music heritage, and the role he must play in society as an educator and fulfiller of cultural needs, forged the standard by which twentieth-century Hungarian music should be judged. He was a protégé and colleague of Erno Dohnányi and a lifelong friend of Béla Bartók.
In the early 1900’s, Bartók and Kodály uncovered the older, more authentic Hungarian folk music by going into the countryside with a phonograph and recording the actual melodies people sang and danced to. It was a discovery of enormous significance—the recovery of a national heritage, a national identity.
Kodaly: Magyar Rondo Arr. for Cello and Guitar
The Magyar (Hungarian) Rondo was composed in December 1917. The rondo form is shaped out of four Hungarian folk songs and an instrumental dance melody. This version, originally for cello and piano has been adapted by guitarist Gregg Nestor for violin and guitar as well as cello and guitar – as bravura showpieces for these instruments.
We are grateful to Dr. Lin He, Associate Professor of Violin, Louisiana State University who contributed to refinements of the violin and guitar edition.
Gregg has created a tasteful new arrangement of the popular W.H. Squire Tarantella Op. 23 for guitar and string quartet. It is fortunate for guitarists who love playing with other musicians to have another opportunity to do so with this arrangement. It is helpful that this is available in a Clear Note Music Plus One audio download edition that allows the guitarist to play along. The edition includes the guitar score as well as practice and performance recordings. There is also a Music Plus OnePerformance Edition of this Squire work which has the audio download, a concert-sized score and a full set of parts.
William Henry Squire (1871-1963) was a British cellist, composer and music professor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He studied cello at the Royal College of Music, and became professor of cello at the Royal College and Guildhall schools of music. He was principal cello in several major London orchestras and helped to popularize the cello as a solo instrument in the early years of the 20th century by giving public concerts throughout the British Isles and making recordings.
By the late 1890s, when Squire was employed by the Queen’s Hall Orchestra, he was already busy publishing a great deal of cello and piano music. He preferred to write small scale works for one or two performers, most likely written for cello students or for his own performances at London concert halls. His pieces for cello and piano can almost entirely be characterized as light, short “character pieces”. Several of his pieces were premiered at London’s Henry Wood Promenade Concerts with Squire himself often performing the solo cello part.
The Tarantella, Op. 23 (1896), has been the most popular Associated Board Musical Examination selection of W. H. Squire since first chosen in 1928.
For this publication Gregg Nestor has arranged it for guitar and string quartet.
The nineteenth century in Europe was a time when the Romantic spirit took hold of all the arts: the creators of literature, poetry, music and aesthetic philosophy initiated explorations that transformed the world. In music, the works of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms best embody that spirit.
With the publication of a treasury of German lieder, arranged for voice and guitar by Gregg Nestor and published in several volumes by Clear Note Editions, vocalists and guitarists have the opportunity to study and perform from a widest collection of these exquisite Romantic masterpieces to date.
The Selected Brahms Lieder
Dein blaues Auge Op. 59 No. 8
Wie Melodien zieht es mir Op. 105 No. 1
Schön war, das ich dir weihte Op. 95 No. 7
Das Mädchen Op. 95 No. 1
In selecting these four lieder for adaptation for cello and guitar, care was taken to find contrasting works whose beautiful melodic and accompanimental qualities allowed them to stand as purely instrumental pieces on their own merits. The poetic texts that are tied to each of these compositions are also included as a reference.
We are grateful to Duo Vitare, Agnieszka Kotulska-Rahunen (cellist) and Kimmo Rahunen (guitarist) who contributed to refinements of this edition.
Possibly his most famous work, Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra) was composed in 1896 in Granada by Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega. It uses the classical guitar tremolo technique of rapidly repeating melody notes in counterpoint to a slow bass line and accompanying arpeggio in the middle voice to create a three part work for solo guitar that is unparalleled in expressive texture and charm.
This edition of Recuerdos de la Alhambraincludes an MPO recording. Clear Note MPO recordings bring audio support to professionals, amateurs, and students for educational, rehearsal, practice, personal enjoyment, live concerts, and casual performance settings.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra as a guitar and orchestra fantasia was adapted by Gregg Nestor, with synth/orchestration by award winning film multimedia composer Dominik Hauser. The guitar part is played by Stephen Robinson.