The Vanguard Guitar

The Vanguard Guitar

Colin McAllister
Productions d’OZ, 2004

“Meant as a primer for such pieces as Britten’s Nocturnal, Brouwer’s La Espiral Eterna, Carter’s Changes, as well as many others, Colin McAllister’s The Vanguard Guitar is a great success. Even more than teaching techniques, it – through the accompanying CD – gives the student a guide to performance practice that will open up many of the modern masterpieces to students of the guitar.

The book hits its stride with the second chapter, “Developing the Sense of Time.” Not only are the compositional techniques of polyrhythm, metric modulation, and changing meters given introductions, there is also a performance vocabulary which one can pick up from McAllister’s recording. Clearly passionate about oft-marginalized music, McAllister gives a performance that reveals clues to the accepted performance practices for pieces in this genre. This is a tremendous advantage when one realizes that intermediate players are so caught up in playing these pieces “correctly” that they rarely play them musically. Even though his articulations and phrasings are not marked in these etudes, they can be heard on the disc and thus emulated. The book, then, becomes not only a primer of modern techniques, but also a library of current performance practices.

The history of the guitar is punctuated by collections of etudes. From Sor to Tárrega to Sor-reimagined-by-Segovia, through Villa-Lobos, and most recently with Brouwer, the performers and composers of the guitar have created works to tutor students in the idiosyncratic techniques of the day. Add to this list Colin McAllister’s new book.”

– Andrew Hull (SoundBoard)

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