Recent Sheet Music Books: ‘Airs and Ballads,’ Beethoven for Guitar and Flute, ABRSM Exam Pieces, and Bach for 2 Guitars

Guitarist Gary Ryan has a long association with the ABRSM and it's exams

We get so much sheet music sent to us by various publishers year ’round—literally hundreds of pieces in every setting imaginable (solo guitar, multiple guitars, guitar-flute, guitar-harp, etc.)—but we don’t have the space to write about the great majority of them in our four quarterly issues each year. So, just as we write fairly regularly about classical-guitar album releases in this online space, we also occasionally announce recent print music releases. These are not reviews (some will be reviewed in the magazine, but frankly most will not), but we think it’s important to at least get the word out about what’s being offered to guitarists out there. Where possible, we’ve linked the titles to the publisher’s website or some other outlet where it can be purchased (often, digital versions are now available, too), but you may have your own favored regional outlets where you can buy sheet music, so we’d encourage you to look there.  —Blair Jackson

John Lehmann-Haupt
Airs and Ballads for Classic Guitar
Mel Bay, 32 pp.

Veteran New York-based guitarist John Lehman-Haupt offers his advanced solo guitar arrangements of a dozen traditional songs from the British Isles and North America, including such well-known folk standards as Banks of the Ohio, Barbara Allen, Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair, She Moved Through the Fair, Shenandoah, and six more. “Part of goal for the collection,” he writes in the preface, “has been that each arrangement should be something I would be proud to play in concert, and I very much hope that others will find them to be valuable repertoire additions as well… Four of the songs have been in my repertoire for many years… [and] these arrangements have evolved over time. ” The recordings below give a sense of the beauty of his arrangements.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonate op. 81a ‘Les Adieux’
(arr. for flute and guitar by Noémi Győri and Katalin Koltai)
Doblinger, 20 pp. plus flute part

Here’s another novel arrangement from Hungarian flautist Noémi Győri and guitarist Katalin Koltai (known collectively as the Classical Flute and Guitar Project), whose previous works have included a two pieces by Haydn and one by Mozart. This time out they take on Beethoven’s popular Piano Sonata No. 26, colloquially known as “Les Adieux.” Alas, we have no video or recording of Győri and Koltai performing this piece, but their previous arrangements have been both intelligent and impeccable, so there’s every reason to believe that is the case here, too. Just in case you want to a quick reference point, however, here’s a piano version of the sonata played by the great Daniel Barenboim that captures the piece’s remarkable contrasts, beauty, and drama.


ABRSM Guitar Exam PIeces 2019 Grades 1–5

The UK’s Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (or ABRSM) is that nation’s largest education body, “one of its largest music publishers, and the world’s leading provider of music exams, holding over 650,000 assessments in more than 90 countries every year… Our core activity is providing graded music exams, assessments and diplomas. An ABRSM grade has a worldwide currency and our exams are designed to motivate learners at all levels and ages, providing realistic goals and tangible rewards for their achievements.”

While it’s certainly a plus to be able to attend an ABRSM-certified school or program, their exam requirements are always a matter of public record, and the organization helpfully publishes books such as these, each offering the music for  nine short pieces aimed at a progressive “grade,” plus a CD that includes all 30 of the pieces at each grade level. The breadth of the repertoire at every level is quite astonishing, and includes traditional pieces from many lands, and composed works from Dowland to Bach to Carulli to Sor to Mertz to modern masters including Brouwer, Piazzolla, Cole Porter, and countless others; 150 in total on the CDs (played by the likes of Stephen Goss, Gary Ryan, Miloš Karadaglić, Gary Ryan, and Laura Snowden), and 45 total in the books.

Here are three examples included in the books:

Concerto in D major BWV 972 
(For two guitars; transcr. Duo Miric)
Lathkill Music Publishers, 10 pp. plus parts

This Bach keyboard piece, transcribed here for two guitars, is actually based on Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in D major Op. 3 No. 9 (RV230). Combining a few elements of Vivaldi’s original (dynamic and tempo markings) with Bach’s score, plus their own staccatos and slurs, the Bosnian Duo Mirić—twin sisters Tanja Mirić and Darka Kooienga (née Mirić)—have come up with a wonderful advanced piece for two guitars. Regular CG readers might recognize Tanja Mirić’s name from our Winter 2018 issue: the music for her original Balkan-flavored piece called Snijeg pade na behar na voce (Snow has fallen on blooming trees) was featured in that issue’s Music to Play column.

The sisters play the Larghetto section of the concerto in a 2011 video: