Aurora
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Reviews
"A strong debut album that demonstrates the 
artist's skill as an arranger as well as performerů.
The real hit of  this collection is MacDowell's 
trio of charming tone poems which lie on the 
instrument beautifully. Anyone looking for fresh 
19th century Americana need look no further!
Recommended!" [Soundboard magazine]

"The recording is admirably clear. Alan Thomas is 
clearly a guitarist of a considerable ability that is 
supported by his numerous competition successes. 
His tone is good, his musical grasp reassuring." 
[Classical Guitar magazine]
Sample Tracks excerpts

Track Listing

JOAQUIN RODRIGO: Three Spanish Pieces
1 Fandango 
2 Passacaglia 
3 Zapateado 
EUG╚NE YSAčE: Sonata No. 5 * 
4 Aurora 
5 Rustic Dance 
EDWARD MACDOWELL 
6 A Tin Soldier's Love * 
7 To a Wild Rose * 
8 To a Humming Bird * 
ELLIOTT CARTER 
9 Changes 
J. S. BACH: Sonata (BWV 1001) * 
10 Adagio 
11 Fuga 
12 Siciliana    
13 Presto 
ERIK SATIE 
14 Je te veux * 

* transcribed by Alan Thomas 
Aurora CD Liner Notes
The works presented on this disc reflect the broad range of the classical guitar's capabilities-from the 
Baroque to the present day, from the Spanish music at the heart of the guitar repertoire to new transcriptions 
that seek to expand the guitar's traditional technical and expressive boundaries. The tremendous success of the 
Concierto de Aranjuez has made Joaquin Rodrigo this century's best-known Spanish composer. His style has 
been molded by a combination of French music (in particular that of his teacher Paul Dukas) and the Spanish 
nationalist composers. Typical of Rodrigo's music, the Three Spanish Pieces do not quote any specific Spanish 
popular melodies, but rather create a Spanish ambiance by employing melodic and rhythmic elements that merely 
recall folk music. 

The set opens with a Fandango-a lively 3/4 dance. This is a frequently used Spanish song form, and Rodrigo's version is one of the most technically challenging pieces in the guitar repertoire. This is followed by a dark and somber Passacaglia, or set of variations over a ground-bass theme (stated at the work's beginning), which culminates in a fandango-like fughetta. As the work progresses, the composer weaves increasingly more elaborate rhythmic and textural ideas over the Phrygian cadential progression so characteristic of Flamenco music. Rodrigo ends his set of Spanish pieces with a virtuosic Zapateado ("little feet" in Spanish).

The Belgian EugŔne Ysa e is arguably the greatest innovator in violin technique after Paganini. But though he greatly admired Paganini, Ysa e's real love was Bach. Indeed, it was the young Joseph Szigeti's performance of a Bach Sonata that inspired Ysa e to compose his six Sonatas in 1923. The influence of Bach is particularly evident in the number of sonatas, Ysa e's use of such forms as the sarabande and allemande, and perhaps most of all in their highly polyphonic compositional approach. The fifth Sonata, known as the "Pastorale," shows a more thoughtful, elegiac character than the others. This impressionistic work pairs a slow and fast movement. The first movement, "Aurora," is a musical picture of sunrise over the sea, of stillness giving birth to day. The second movement is a lively country dance, featuring much of the same thematic material heard in the first movement, only now in the more quirky context of 5/4 meter.

Edward MacDowell was America's greatest nineteenth-century composer. In addition to piano sonatas, two piano concerti, songs, and two Suites for orchestra, he wrote hundreds of brief programmatic piano pieces. Inspired by nature and published in such collections as Woodland Sketches and New England Idylls, it is probably for these charming little "tone-poems" that he is best known today. The fairy-tale subject of "A Tin Soldier's Love" is portrayed by a curious, yet effective, combination of lilting melodic line and march. "To a Wild Rose," MacDowell's most famous composition, is a tender evocation of transitory beauty. And the exuberant "To a Humming Bird" delicately captures precision, energy, and speed.

Composers in the latter half of the twentieth century have increasingly realized that the guitar's stylistic and sonic versatility make it an ideal (if often obstinate!) vehicle for their musical languages. Elliott Carter's Changes, written in 1983, is unquestionably one of the most outstanding guitar works to come out of this period. Carter has said that Changes is "music of mercurial contrasts of character and mood." To provide a stable backdrop for these contrasts, Carter employs the concept of musical characters-gestural types defined by their rhythmic, intervallic, and textural makeup. Even though these characters undergo constant change, they nonetheless retain their basic properties, thus providing the listener with a thread of continuity. The work's large-scale form is perhaps best understood as a process of interaction and development of the characters.

Bach's six Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin are the most studied and admired works in the entire violin repertoire. The first Sonata is typical of the sonata da chiesa slow-fast-slow-fast movement format also employed in Bach's other violin sonatas. The first movement is a highly ornamented Italian-style Adagio, which functions as a prelude to a remarkable three-voice fugue, all the more astonishing for the fact that it was written for a primarily monodic instrument. The lyrical Siciliana movement, set in the relative major key, is followed by a virtuosic gigue-like Presto.

Erik Satie's song "Je te veux," originally for voice and piano, is a delightful waltz in the dance hall style of turn of the century Paris. Its haunting tune and simple accompaniment make it highly suitable for adaptation to the guitar.

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