WALLACE PLAYS WALLACE is a compilation offering of solo classical guitar works performed by the composer. It distills the wide-ranging work of composer/guitarist/baritone Frank A. Wallace (1952-2020) down to its core—his own masterful solo playing of his compositions. Wallace’s writing for the instrument was extraordinary for its breadth of color and concept—as a composer he was truly one of a kind, blending an innate sophistication with his contagious sense of play; virtuosity on the guitar and its ancestors with the heart of a singer. As player and recording engineer he was an alchemist who took the base metal of notes on a page and turned them into pure gold, luring listeners in and holding them transfixed. Few masters of the classical guitar have so tirelessly widened the path of new music for the instrument. This compilation includes all of Wallace’s playing of his solo works that he released during his lifetime.
A Distant Wind
music inspired by faraway times and places
A distant wind
blows from the sun.
It blows from China
and the Faroes,
It blows from
Machaut and Britten Basel, Boston and Brittany.
My cup is filled,
sun, soil, soaked leaves
flow in my veins.
A distant wind
–Frank A. Wallace, Antrim NH 9/7/19
Many distant winds
In this age of retreat, anti-immigration and denial of our oneness, I dedicate this album to the good that comes from afar: spices from Zanzibar, yoga from India, pizza from Italy, French fries, rosewood from Brazil, tomatoes and potatoes from Peru, corn from the Maya, the blues from Africa, hummus from the Middle East, poetry from Persia, stories from Nordic lands, sculpture and democracy from Greece. The music on this album is inspired by a song from 16th century England (Nocturnal), friendship in the Faroes (A Distant Wind), friendship and history in Basel, choral singing in my young adult days in Boston (Amanda), the first cellist of the Boston Symphony in the 1950’s who loved a troubadour song from 12th century Provence and has a loving son in New Jersey. OK, New Jersey isn’t so far, but you get my point. All modern life takes treasures from all over the world to get through a day – any day, every day.
The I Ching says, “In the words and deeds of the past there lies hidden a treasure that men may use to strengthen and elevate their own characters.” My musical roots are as American as apple pie. In other words I am a polyglot of music—a melting pot of styles. As a teenager I listened to Jobim and Getz, Buddy Rich and Wes Montgomery, Los Romeros, Segovia and Bream, Bach and flamenco, The Beatles, The Stones, and West Side Story and South Pacific. True, Machaut and Schoenberg came a little later, but not much. My music has been likened to Britten and Takemitsu—both had their roots in many pies as well. As a composer I love the riches given to me in this incredible age we live in where time and place have become so fluid. In the practice of Qigong, it is said there are three forms of Q,or universal energy: Jing, Qi, and Shen. They can be seen as equivalent to the energy of past present and future and it is believed they are all present at once. That is how I feel about the music on this album.
The first two pieces on A DISTANT WIND hearken back to medieval times with the use of parallel fourths and fifths, both raw and adorned. These open harmonies were the harbinger of polyphony about a thousand years ago. I performed this music in the 1970s and 80s with Trio LiveOak. We roamed the Pyrenees searching for Romanesque architecture in which to sing these songs. We toured Europe looking for perfect acoustics and basked in the warm glow of vibration. In the Middle Ages beautiful resonances were achieved by very simple harmonic means with two or three voices and the same approach is vibrant on the guitar. I enjoy working in this archaic style and have done so throughout my compositional career: Cunctipotens Genitor 1997; Nuevas Cantigas 2001; and more recently in Fünf Kleine Stücke, written while visiting Basel Switzerland in spring 2017, and A Distant Wind in 2018. Christmas CD JOY also features sounds from many lands and times.
The Compositional Process
While I do use the simple methods of the past in some thematic material, I also take advantage of my medium, the classical guitar. I ornament and expand the textures and harmonies in many ways inspired by what is possible on the guitar. I use some random or chance methods to generate new harmonies and note groups. Sometimes these more modern methods allow for greater exploration of harmonies and textures and even suggest larger forms. Timid Nightingale started with a modal troubadour song by Bernart de Ventadorn to which I added pitch groups generated by the name of the dedicatee, famed cellist Samuel Mayes. In brief, the notes D#, E, F became a rich source of motivic material that birthed three more movements after being intertwined with the troubadour song in the first movement. This, my Sonata #3, was commissioned by good friend, guitarist, and fellow early music enthusiast Joseph Mayes.
Distant winds blow through our lives more than we can imagine. Thoughts, memories, dreams inspired by parents, grandparents and beyond. Religious tales and beliefs chained to time influence our decisions. Old books, a song we heard as a child, an ancient tree under which we might dawdle, dream or desire our first kiss. An argument from decades ago, a lost friendship or a new friend from distant lands.
Thanks for A Distant Wind
This album is a celebration of connections to time, people, and place. It is dedicated to many people who have changed and moved my life: Nancy Knowles, my wife and my sons Gus and Adam, who have stayed by my side through great hardship; John Fleagle, an old friend who went down many distant paths with me for a time and whose musical gifts still blow through my life and music; Aaron Green who built my exquisite guitar; all those who have inspired my compositions, too many to name here; my parents who supported my musical education and loved listening to me play late at night as they went to sleep.
I conclude with a short recent poem that ponders the question where did I get my musical talent, my gifts? I never met my paternal grandfather, a poet, and my mother’s Dad was distant after I was five years old and died soon after we moved from Texas to California. He played piano by ear, but I recall nothing of it, and so I wonder still…
My grandfather’s piano
It calls me
It beckons me
tickle my memory.
Copyright ©2019 Frank A. Wallace. Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles
A Distant Wind music inspired by faraway times and places, CD by Frank Wallace, guitar and composer. Music by Wallace, Britten and Sagreras; guitar by Aaron Green, 2018. Compositions: by Frank A. Wallace unless otherwise noted; published by Gyre Music. ASCAP Release date: December, 2019. Engineering and mastering: recorded at Elsa Voelcker Photography Studio 2019, in Antrim NH by Frank Wallace. Performance copyright ©2019 Frank A. Wallace; All rights reserved. All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace.
a tribute to the legacy of Segovia, guitar by Hermann Hauser I, 1931
Dreams on a Lullaby, variations on the folksong “Noi de la Mare,” is my homage to Catalan guitarist/composer Miguel Llobet and the great art and music of his native Catalunya. Federico Mompou, also Catalan, dedicated his Suite Compostelana (not available on WALLACE PLAYS WALLACE see OMAGGIO) to Andrés Segovia. He named it after the famed pilgrimage city Santiago de Compostela, home of Música en Compostela, the festival that featured Segovia’s summer masterclass for decades. I went to that class in 1972. I met my future brother-in-law, but not Segovia, who was ill. A decade later I performed medieval music at the Música en Compostela festival, unaware that Segovia and the magnificent repertoire he engendered had left an indelible mark on my musical soul, which you will hear.
This album was initiated by my old friend, the late Edmund Brelsford. In 2010 Edmund invited me to do a concert of Segovia repertoire on his beloved 1931 Hermann Hauser I guitar (born the same year as he), in honor of the 100th birthday of its original owner, Blanche Honegger Moyse (1909-2011). Smitten by Andrés Segovia’s concerts in Geneva in 1929, the young violinist Blanche Honegger asked Segovia if she could study with him, which she did, even living for a time in the Segovia household in Paris. Two years later, Segovia commissioned a concert guitar from Hermann Hauser. Of the two instruments Hauser delivered, Segovia kept one. The other, the guitar on this album, he gave to Blanche. At the end of World War II, now a member of the illustrious Moyse Trio with her husband and father-in-law, she and the guitar left France on a boat to Argentina, finally settling in Vermont.
Her Hauser guitar, which had not weathered well the long journey, eventually came into the hands of my friend Edmund Brelsford. In 1999 Hermann Hauser III, the master’s grandson, undertook a major restoration, and there it was: a sunburst of sound, with colors of every hue, each tone ever-so-reluctantly melting into the next. Its true voice, muted for 50 years, sings again.
Playing this magical guitar has been a gift to me. In the process of relearning decades-ignored music for that 2010 concert and this recording, music I deeply love, I am more and more amazed at the myriad streams of life that flow into each ocean we call a human being. The decades I spent playing lute and vihuela, singing solo and choral music, teaching young professionals or young and old beginners—not to mention composing—all has made my understanding of the great masters of guitar so much deeper. It is a joy, an honor, an expression of gratitude to dedicate this recording to all my mentors. — Frank Wallace
Press release: Omaggio press release
Release date: September 16, 2016; digital January 7, 2017. Engineering and mastering: Recorded at Hillsborough Center Congregational Church in Hillsborough, NH 2014, by Frank Wallace with Schoepps and Neumann microphones into a Prism Orpheus firewire interface to MacBook Pro. Artwork, photographs, and design: Nancy Knowles. All Gyre compositions are ASCAP. Copyright ©2016 Frank A. Wallace, All rights reserved.
All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace.
See the story and pictures of Segovia’s 1931 Hauser, sister to the guitar on this recording with its identical rosette, on the Hauser webpage
Four Extraordinary Spanish Guitars
Frank Wallace plays four great Spanish guitars: Manuel Gutierrez, Sevilla, 1854; Manuel de Soto y Solares, Sevilla, c. 1875; Manuel Ramírez, Madrid, c. 1910; Ignacio Fleta, Barcelona, 1964
It is a remarkable experience to hear a powerful, refined performer playing gorgeous historical instruments he knows intimately. On this album Frank Wallace shares his talents on four rare guitars from his own collection. Known internationally since 1976 as an elegant performer on guitar and lute, Wallace enjoys equal acclaim as a prolific composer of guitar solos, songs, and chamber music. Fanfare says he is “…a true master…His dynamic range is impressive, and his gradations of tone, constantly singing line, and sensitive musicianship confirm his ‘elegant virtuosity’” (classicstoday.com). “Wallace’s music is exciting, unpredictable, and fresh…” — American Record Guide
Frank explains his passion for old instruments: “Too often vintage guitars hide away in a collector’s closet or the basement of a museum. Guitarists debate restoring/playing versus leaving them for historians to analyze. Modern string players, in contrast, are out in the world every day playing concerts with 100-400 year-old instruments. It is my belief that these older guitars are vibrant musical powerhouses. Their tones are infinitely more complex and haunting than those of newer guitars. In their discomfort with the smaller size and lighter construction of 19th and early 20th century guitars, modern guitarists tend to underplay, to be careful, to assume that old means weak. When I bought these guitars in the 1990s after a decade of performing on Renaissance instruments without nails, their sound felt robust and luxurious. Now having played them for a quarter century, they feel even more poetic and expressive: important for their vast palette of sound.”
About the Instrument
The instruments of Ignacio Fleta (1897-1977) were made famous by many 20th century virtuosos, including Segovia and John Williams. Like Madrid’s Manuel Ramírez, Fleta in Barcelona had the opportunity to repair many Torres guitars. By the late 1950s Fleta was pioneering his own style of guitar-building, veering away from his earlier lighter Torres construction to satisfy his clientele, who were performing in large halls. His early training and building was in violins, cellos, and bass viols. No wonder his guitars have such a soul-stirring sustain. In an interview shortly before his death, he spoke of the pivotal influence of Torres on his work. — Frank Wallace
Release date: November 6, 2015
Engineering and mastering: Recorded 2013 at Hillsborough Center Congregational Church in Hillsborough NH by Frank Wallace with Schoepps microphones, Sontec preamp and Troisi converter to Panasonic SV-3700 DAT
Copyright ©2018 Frank A. Wallace. Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles. All rights reserved. All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace, except The Stubborn Oak, Tuscany Publications, BMI.
Frank Wallace, his own new works, vol. III. Hermann Hauser, 1931 guitar
I once had the honor of spending a night at the home of master luthier Nico van der Waals. An extremely cordial man, it was a pleasure to meet him and to talk about instruments and music. I will never forget descending the stairs late at night to find him alone in the living room, head bowed in hands, listening to Gustav Leonhardt playing Bach. It was a sacred act—an intensity of listening I’m not sure I had ever witnessed. It is in this spirit that I made this recording. “Elemental” signifies the root, the essence, the building blocks of life and physical being. It reflects the raw and powerful dis-passion of nature as portrayed in the first work, The Elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. (The fifth element, The Void, is what lies between the notes.) The third recording of my solo works for classical guitar, Elemental is contemplative, earthly, dramatic at times, lyrical occasionally. Perhaps the most all-inclusive description would be textural or abstract. I employ many compositional styles and techniques, from tone row fragments to modal polyphony and drones. My favorite is to derive pitch sets from names—my starting point for A Heavy Sleep, The Bells, and Passing in the Night.
I recorded this CD on an extraordinary instrument. In 1929, smitten by Andrés Segovia’s concerts in Geneva, the young violinist Blanche Honegger (1909-2011) asked Segovia if she could study with him, which she did, even living for a time in the Segovia household in Paris. Two years later, Segovia commissioned a concert guitar from Hermann Hauser I. Of the two instruments Hauser delivered, Segovia kept one. The other, the guitar on this CD, he gave to Blanche. At the end of World War II, now a member of the illustrious Moyse Trio with her husband and father-in-law, she left France, ultimately settling in Vermont, where they were among the founders of the Marlboro Music Festival. There Blanche Moyse became renowned as a conductor. Her Hauser guitar, which had not weathered well the long journey, eventually came into the hands of my good friend Edmund Brelsford. When I first played it in the early 1990s it had not fully rediscovered its voice after initial work on it by David Rubio. In 1999 Hermann Hauser III, the master’s grandson, undertook a major restoration. To celebrate the guitar’s revival, I was given the honor of performing several concerts on it, and there it was: a sunburst of sound, with colors of every hue, and a decay like none other —each tone ever-so-reluctantly melting into the next. Its true voice, muted for fifty years, sings again. Enjoy! — Frank Wallace
by Frank A. Wallace, 2004
op. 29, a poetic essay on the origin of life, in four movements for solo guitar
Originally written for 6-string guitar, I have adapted The Elements for 10-string as well which will be recorded on a future CD. It is a poetic essay on the origin of the Earth. I. “Fire,” I conceive as the original burst of energy that birthed this universe, big, chaotic. II. “Earth” is the eventual congealing of solid ground which features repetitive modal chords that accompany a slow melody. III. “Air” is spacious, a moment when the potential of life has emerged and a time to reflect on creation itself and IV. “Water” the careening, tumbling, whirling thing we call life.
A Heavy Sleep
by Frank A. Wallace, 2013
op. 76, commissioned by and written for Detlev Bork
A Heavy Sleep was commissioned by and written for German guitarist Detlev Bork on the occasion of Benjamin Britten’s 100th Anniversary. The title and motivic content of the piece were derived from Britten’s monumental work Nocturnal from 1963. It seemed fitting that since Britten’s masterpiece was inspired by John Dowland’s great song, “Come Heavy Sleep,” I should in turn find my musical inspiration in the gestures and harmonic language of the Nocturnal.
by Frank A. Wallace, 2013
op. 74, commissioned by and written for Edel Muñoz
I first met Edel Muñoz at the 2011 St. Joseph Guitar Festival – he was back to do his “winner’s concert”, but I missed it. Fortunately, we met again at Classical Minds in Houston in June 2012 at which point we got to hear each other’s concerts. Edel is one of the most suave and subtle but powerful players I have ever heard. I was thrilled that he asked me to write a piece for him.
I had developed some techniques of generating ideas over the past few years that worked extremely well, but for some reason I tossed those ideas out the door and just wrote from pure inspiration. This is the result, a piece making use of the octatonic scale, my first use of the “diminished” scale in a piece that alternates between dramatic chordal outbursts and flowing bass melodies. Overall Black Falcon is in two sections: “Larghissimo” in 4/2 and “Allegro” in 12/8.
by Frank A. Wallace, 2010
op. 61, three preludes for solo guitar
Dedicated to Thomas Schuttenhelm, Norbert Dams, and Marek Pasieczny
d’Orleans The round Orleans, Beaugency is woven into a spacious fabric of dissonant chords, melody pealing high above in harmonics. I re-discovered this piece after it lay dormant for over a year, having totally forgotten this little “experiment” in dissonant chord structures. I was pleased to find how much sonority was possible. The major 7th interval is used repeatedly and creates its own beating vibrato.
d’Angelus I was honored to be asked by Norbert Dams to write a piece for his 60th year in which he planned to do 60 concerts around the world. I had composed “d’Orleans” on a whim two years before and knew I wanted to write more “impressionistic” pieces in this vein. Norbert’s piece uses a series of notes generated by his name and the name of his publishing house, Daminus: FGBBEBC DAEC DAEAFEC and a chromatic variation A#BDA#C#DE CAAD# CAAFA#FD#.
In the Well The third piece, written for Marek Pasieczny, is the most complicated. It is comprised of major 7th intervals, note sets determined by Marek’s name, and an unusual version of the round “Ding dong bell, pussy is in the well” that I learned years ago from a wonderful family of singers, George and Lucy Semler.
by Frank A. Wallace, 2005
op. 32, three movements in a romantic 12-tone style for solo guitar:
Allegro, Grave, Presto
As with many guitarists my age, Julian Bream’s 20th Century Guitar Music album of the late 1960’s was a tremendous influence on me. Though my eventual path led to the study and performance for many years of Renaissance music, I never lost my love for the pieces by Britten, Martin, Smith, Brindle, and Henze on that magnificent recording. Certainly this Sonata #1 came from years of holding those sounds in my heart. The powerful rhythm and harmony emerged in the midst of several tours in which I was debuting two song cycles in the winter/spring of 2005. It surprised me.
Passing in the Night
by Frank A. Wallace, 2012
op. 71, five short guitar solos
Commissioned by: Beatty Music Scholarship Competition, Passing in the Night is five short movements dedicated to my father. It was written in Würzburg Germany August 15-18, 2012 while I was on a composition retreat after 13 concerts in Spain. Anxious to write in general and specifically to fulfill a commission for the Beatty Youth Competition, I did not expect to receive notice that my 94-year-old father had a fever and had stopped eating. The words of Amanda, a shape note hymn by Justin Morgan, still resounded in my ears from my recent performance in the magical Romanesque San Martín de Frómista: “Death like an overflowing stream sweeps us away, our life’s a dream, an empty tale, a morning flower, cut down and withered in an hour.”
The five works encompass various styles, perhaps influenced by my travels through several countries and by my father’s love of travel. The first, Round the World, is inspired by friend and fabulous Bulgarian composer/guitarist Atanas Ourkouzounov. The second, Don’t say Goodbye recalls the stark harmonies and gracious melodies of Justin Morgan and the American shape note school. The titles are both quotes of my father during my last visit when Dad told us of his recent (imagined) trip “’round the world.” A few months earlier he would have elaborated greatly in detail, exotic surely, but as his body weakened after eleven years of struggle, his mind, or perhaps just his voice, couldn’t illumine the imagined trip. On parting Dad said, “Don’t say goodbye, say au revoir. I’m still your Pappy!” After the meditative second piece, Don’t say Goodbye, a quirky little Par 9 evokes his impossible dream of joining the pro golf circuit at age 90. Or rather, it is the feeling in me of how odd it was to feel happy that he had dreams, yet sad that he was so divorced from reality. Which is better? Joyous dancing and love of life infuse the last two pieces, celebrating a life well lived, Say au Revoir and I’m Still your Pappy. Au revoir, Pop! — Frank Wallace
Copyright ©2013 Frank A. Wallace. Cover painting and design by Nancy Knowles. All rights reserved. All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace.
Original songs and inspired arrangements of traditional and ancient carols for the season; guitar solo.
One of my fondest memories of childhood in California is the Christmas Eve service at our stucco church. We arrived at 11:00pm to miraculous blazing sentinels that stood guard all around the top of the flat-topped building and lined the stairs and benches of the patio. Each of these warm luminarias was nothing but a paper lunch bag with sand and a candle. We would sing carols outside carrying candles as we exited the service at midnight.
Those lights had been all but extinguished by time until some mysterious match rekindled their memory in a new form last November. My annual search for better arrangements of carols became a creative marathon. I spent two months exploring many old carols and writing new ones. Each piece came to me practically in the order you hear here and created a progression of keys, moods, and textures that speak of the joy and solitude of winter and the hope of re-birth that the season brings to us.
I have chosen music from my childhood, my favorite songs sung on those nights of light, as well as medieval songs to Mary, renaissance part songs, French, Sephardic, English, and Catalan folk songs. The story unfolded with little effort on my part. Simple joys…and may peace reign at last, at long last. — Frank Wallace
The complete companion book, A Season of Light, is available here.
All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace are available for purchase on Gyre. Released: October 2007 Guitar by: Ignacio Fleta, 1964. Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles. Copyright ©2007 Frank A. Wallace All rights reserved
a collection of miniatures composed by Frank A. Wallace
Sketches is a collection of miniatures written spontaneously over the past eight years. They are tone poems, short and direct. They are ethnic and simple, influenced by ouds and gypsy fiddles, medieval chants and renaissance fools, sacred motets and ancient guitarists. They come from my soul, not my head. They are a meditation, an album for the young.
Nuevas Cantigas is inspired by the 13th century Cantigas de Santa María of Alfonso X, el Sabio, of Spain. Preserved in four large books of incomparable beauty, this collection includes over four hundred monophonic songs and many color miniatures laid out like cartoons that tell tales and sing the praises of Holy Mary. Five of my cantigas are original compositions while the second, Imperayritz, from the 14th century Llibre Vermell, has only a few notes added to the original two-part piece. In Santa Maria Valed I have added a simple drone to a tune from the original Cantigas. In this poignant song the great king himself prays to Holy Mary to relieve him of a terrible illness.
The great masters of polyphonic masses and motets such as Josquin des Près inspired lutenists from Capirola to Dowland for over a century. My Five Polyphonic Fantasies start with the vocal clarity of their renaissance models and move toward a more “guitaristic” expression in Fantasies IV and V. Inversions, my first solo guitar compositions, were written in 1977, 20 years before I began sharing my works with the world. The second Inversion inspired the piece In the Shadow of the Church from my first Gyre CD, Frank Wallace, his own new works.
Harlequin is the wise fool of commedia dell’arte, one of the earliest forms of slapstick comedy, still influential to this day. With its roots in masked comedy of ancient times, it spread from Italy to other parts of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In this tradition, stock characters improvise to a loose story line. Here, Harlequin falls in love with a beautiful young forbidden woman, gets into trouble, and must flee. On the Sol, in Mi is a pun (Harlequin does have a pure heart): the melody of this song in E Major is played primarily on the third, or G [sol], string. I wrote Six Prayers on Six Strings because the most beautiful manner of playing a melody on a stringed instrument is to slide up and down one string. The melody is played almost exclusively on one string – all accompaniment figures are conceived around this limitation.
The final piece is a set of variations based on a “fake” theme in the style of Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849) which I wrote for a young student of mine. The name comes from the finale, in which, in my imagination, Dionisio visits Buenos Aires (Good Winds), whereupon he hears some good tangos. — Frank Wallace
Released: September 2004. Guitar by: Ignacio Fleta, 1964. All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace are available for purchase on Gyre. Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles. Copyright ©2007 Frank A. Wallace. All rights reserved.
Song of Albin
suite in G minor for solo guitar
six movements honoring Wallace’s Scottish ancestors
Six movements in honor of my Scottish ancestors; some Celtic influence, but also a brief session of 12-tone music in the final movement to heighten the tension of the conclusion. David Isaacs describes the pieces in his Sept. 2011 review in Soundboard (read complete review):
“These are rich, intricate concert works that would work well as a set or individually. Embedded within these works are fascinating, dense harmonies; complex contrapuntal textures; several extensive shifts; and some challenging slur techniques…In addition to the wonderful music contained on these pages is the beautiful physical presentation that comes from GYRE. An original piece of artwork, often a photograph from Wallace’s wife Nancy Knowles, graces each cover, the music is well-organized, it is easy to read, and contains plenty of essential left hand fingerings.”
“The set begins with “Reviresco” where the simple, lilting, rhythm gradually gives way to intricate rhythmic sequences and scale passages as it passes through seven different time signatures. “My Trust” introduces the slur technique in which the second note of a descending slur is accompanied by another plucked note. This technique takes some advanced hand and finger independence and is not easily accomplished at a rapid tempo. This second movement will push the player’s interpretive chops to new heights as it weaves long shifts, rhythmic schemes, slurs, and modern harmony around gorgeous melodic lines. In the third movement, “The Glen of Ellerslie,” Wallace develops a three-note motif over rhythmic displacement, octave displacements, adds harmony at varied times to the beginning, middle, or end of the motif, creates counterpoint lines, and transcends the fretboard in the process. “Birling” is the simplest and shortest movement in the set and a magnificent piece to introduce a young player to Wallace’s beautiful sense of melody while giving a player who takes on the entire suite a breath to relax. The fifth movement, “Cuthon,” maintains a fairly constant rhythmic theme throughout while adding drama through harmony and the use of specific single strings for widely spaced melodies. “Red Lion” concludes the suite with quintuplet and sextuplet arpeggios, no time signature, and a breadth of atonal harmony with resolution in the final two bars.” — Frank Wallace
Recorded: by Frank Wallace in 2004. Instrument: classical guitar by Ignacio Fleta, 1964. Duration: 18 minutes. Written: summer, 2003. Printed Edition: go to sheet music. Gyre Publications. Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles. Copyright ©2001 Frank A. Wallace. All rights reserved.
his own new works, vol. 1
From the Windy Place is dedicated to my son, Guthrie (the gift of the fourth movement), and refers to the windy north coast of Spain, near La Coruña. With my early music ensemble Trio LiveOak we followed the medieval pilgrimage roads of northern Spain various times on our way to Montserrat and Santiago de Compostela. Singing medieval songs in resonant romanesque churches forever changed how I hear music. Federico Mompou’s work for solo guitar, Suite Compostelana also honors the region of Galicia and was certainly an influence on this composition. The church of the third movement is the great cathedral of Santiago, with its wonderful medieval sculptures of musicians playing stringed instruments on the Portico de la Gloria, which greeted pilgrims as they entered.
The Stubborn Oak is a Shaker tune with inspiring lyrics that was introduced to me by the late Marleen Montgomery, my mentor. The piece is an homage to her and to the Shakers, whose beautiful songs and simple way of life have so enriched ours.
Sweet Ladyslipper is dedicated to the memory of our musical partner and friend, John Fleagle. The piece started as a simple blues riff for a children’s piece several years ago but the first page ended with an arpeggio I wouldn’t wish on any of my students—so it sat, unfinished. In the winter of 1999 John had become extremely ill, and I joined his many friends and colleagues in a benefit concert for him. Moved by the energy generated by this inspiring gathering, I renewed work on the piece. Beyond my wildest dreams, as one movement ended, the next began before I could put my pencil down. The titles are all early song and dance forms, the subscripts are excerpts of lyrics from medieval, Renaissance, and traditional songs that we performed together with John as Trio LiveOak. I finished the piece a few days before he died.
Finally, Quadrangle, my first large-scale composition, is a set of four loosely connected but contrasting movements. It also sat unfinished and barely remembered for two years. The various small works included here (Suite Blues) are intended for my students and collected in Sketches (Gyre 10052)—what would the garden be without its little Johnny-jump-ups? — Frank Wallace
Released: July 2000. Guitar by: Ignacio Fleta, 1964. All Gyre compositions are ASCAP. Copyright ©2000 Frank A. Wallace. Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles. All rights reserved. All compositions ASCAP, © Frank A. Wallace, except The Stubborn Oak, Tuscany Publications, BMI.
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