Sheet Music Releases: Works by Beethoven, Lutoslawski, Bryan Johanson, and Fabrice Pierrat

The Presti-Lagoya Guitar Duo included several Beethoven works in their repertoire.

Periodically, we write about classical guitar sheet music books. Though we can’t possibly keep up with the enormous volume of releases, we are able to highlight a few every few weeks. 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 regional outlets where you can buy sheet music, so we’d encourage you to look there.  —BJ


The Presti-Lagoya Collection, Volume 9
Works by Beethoven, edited by Frederic Zigante
Berben; score and separate parts (45, 19, and 16 pages respectively)

This wonderful set of books devoted to arrangements by the great French duo of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya  has now reached nine volumes (I have heard that there are to be 13) and here we have three works by Beethoven, all works without opus number and originally written for mandolin and fortepiano in 1796.

The Adagio Ma Non Troppo (WoO 43b) is the only work to keep its original key, which is slightly unusual in that it is Eb Major not the most obvious of keys guitarists might consider writing in. Both guitars have a low D sixth string (not Eb). Given that this is early Beethoven, you are not going to get anything as challenging as the Pathetique, or the Moonlight Sonata, but you do get an involving six pages of score with, as one might expect, parts that are considerably difficult without much consideration for open strings, but that inevitably prove to be a worthwhile piece of writing.

The one movement Sonatine (WoO 44a) has moved from C to G Major, and again has both guitars in dropped D. This allegro is full of flashy runs of 16ths that flit from one guitar to the other in a constant fluctuation, and is lots of fun, but once again, takes considerable playing to achieve a good performance.

The final Andante Con Variazioni (WoO 44b) moves from D to G Major and is also in dropped D tuning. It has a theme, five variations and a coda, and is great fun throughout.

This is yet another wonderful volume in what has proven to be a landmark set of books.

12 Folk Melodies
Witold Lutoslawski, ed. Raymond Burley
PWM Edition, 21 pp.

These works, originally written for piano in 1945, are arrangements of Polish folk tunes, in a somewhat similar vein to Bartok’s massive set of piano pieces, For Children, which were based on Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Slovakian folk songs. However, as Bartok’s were written decades earlier, these arrangements from 1945 by the great Polish composer and conductor Witold Lutoslawski (1913–1994) are much more modern in sound, even if the folk style melodies still shine through. Guitar arrangements of these pieces first came to light in performances by Julian Bream (on his 1993 album Nocturnal on EMI Classics), but these have never surfaced in print and remained unpublished.

They are all short and to the point, and although some keys were, of necessity, changed, and one or two minor alterations needed put them on guitar, nothing too drastic was needed to achieve this. There are some endearing titles and most of the pieces are only of moderate difficulty, though you do have to get used to the harmonic idiom and the multiple sharps and flats. There is a wide variety here, from Oh, My Johnny—a sostenuto piece in two voices that constantly shifts  around—to the bouncy Hey, I Come From Cracow, with its humorous pairs of seconds, and The Shepherd Girl , an allegretto in A , and the cheeky  Flirting.


They are all delightful pieces, brief and to the point, never outstaying their welcome. I could easily picture a number of these being ideal for concert material for intermediate guitarists.

Bryan Johanson
Les Productions d’Oz, 12 pp.

This five-movement work originated when Johanson found that, having finished writing his Sonatine No. 4 for guitar, the notebook he used for that work still contained several nice and useful ideas he had not utilized. Therefore, he decided to use them in this latest work; hence the title, a Sonatina–Notebook.

Johanson’s works are often quirky harmonically and this latest work is no exception. The fifth string is tuned to G throughout.

The opening movement is a Serenade which, for its main theme, is reliant on hammering-on from the open fifth string G to various notes above that in numerous patterns of running 16th- and eighth-note runs. A momentary excursion into longer notes provides a little relief from the 16th notes until the opening ideas return.

Meditation is an andante largo two-voiced idea with a clashing pair of accompanying notes based around Gs and As underneath a mournful melody above. Bagatelle is an allegro giocoso that alternates between two octave jumps from string six to string one in a number of odd rhythms, and scale-like runs reminiscent of the opening movement’s themes. Berceuse is a chord–based sostenuto that places unusual combinations of triads next to one another.

The Finale is a rollicking presto that is a constant flow of eighth notes in a single voice using folkish scales to make its effect, and is a lot of fun getting your hands around at the required speed.

This is an unusual piece, great to play, deserving lots of admirers.

Lever du Jour A Paramana
Fabrice Pierrat
Les Productions d’Oz, 4 pp.

This French composer has written a number of works that are based on musical styles from South America and the Caribbean, but this latest work is a very catchy and vibrant piece named after a place in Papua New Guinea. It is written in a mixture of 6/8 and 3 /4 time and constantly veers from one to the other in a familiar way that many will recognize from the style of the music. It begins with a catchy melody that builds on an arpeggiated A chord to form sixths that rise and fall with an ever-moving bass line underneath. The music continually shifts from one harmony to the next, and although it falls very guitaristically under the fingers, one needs to be a decent player to cope with it. After a repeat of the main idea, a new theme enters in a contrasting key, but still keeping up the moving sixths. A repeat brings a middle section in D Major where the style is a little more melodic and less reliant on rhythm, after which a da capo brings us back to the main theme for one more play-through before a brief coda on an A Major 7 chord.

This is one of those pieces with a melody that will likely stay with you for ages afterwards. It is very cleverly written, with imaginative writing and harmonies, and it would be ideal for a recital, as players and audiences alike should love it.