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Louis Valentine Johnson | Twenty-Four Studies for Guitar, Op. 35: No. 22 in B-Minor, Allegretto

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Twenty-Four Studies for Guitar, Op. 35: No. 22 in B-Minor, Allegretto

by Louis Valentine Johnson

This composition is an Innovative recording of a well-known work by our famous 18th Century Guitarist, Fernando Sor to be followed by my additional arrangements for Guitar & Viola, Guitar & Cello, and a version for Guitar & String Quartet.
Genre: Classical: Classical era
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1. Twenty-Four Studies for Guitar, Op. 35: No. 22 in B-Minor, Allegretto
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Album Notes

The intent of this exploration is to take Sor’s piece to a different realm of
variation. I recorded this composition twenty years ago, after learning and
playing it for decades. My current arrangement is very different and has taken
liberties with interpretation, compositional aspects, and techniques. I have no
idea if Fernando Sor would agree with my changes to his piece. I comfort
myself with the illusion that Sor may have approved of my work as a fellow
artist and composer. After all, arranging and romantic interpretation are
facets of music which walk together, hand-in-hand along the primrose path
of composition.
Facsimiles of Sor’s Opus 35, Studies 13-24 document the etiology of this
piece, which along with other of his works are all available in various editions.
Sor wrote that these compositions were very easy exercises for the guitar.
Brian Jeffery, in his book Fernando Sor: Complete Works for Guitar,3
provides an excellent and complete resource. Jeffery also authored Fernando
Sor Composer and Guitarist.4
Musicologist, composer and professor Dr. Mark A. Radice of Ithaca, New York,
wrote in his liner notes for my recording The Blue Hour5, that the studies of
guitar composers such as Fernando Sor and Dionysio Aquado, both of whom
were contemporaries of Beethoven, entertained views of romanticism from
their late classical vantage point.
Dr. Radice wrote: “Studies of Aquado and Sor represent a late stage in the
concert etude as a type of piece that can be dated as far back as the early 18th
century. Clearly, these pieces rise above the level of studies intended for the
practice room only—they are concert show pieces.”6
We need not be concerned about performing an exquisite short composition
because the composer called it an exercise, or a study. I have played this Sor
composition in concerts, as an encore, and for the wedding of a friend. Sor’s
piece has always moved listeners. Argentine composer Jose Luis Merlin wrote
a second guitar part to Sor’s study, dedicated it to me, and turned this solo
piece into a duo which we performed together often. My lifelong affinity for
this beautiful work inspired me to look into its deeper possibilities.
Most guitarists play this piece romantically and slowly, in the style of some
recordings of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Often called the Moonlight Study
by guitarists, we play it at a tempi of 60 to 100 on Maezel’s metronome. Sor’s
notation indicates a tempo of Allegretto. I recorded this composition at c. 114.
In the interest of lengthening what is essentially a two minute piece, I wrote
out and repeated the first section of 16 bars with a subsequent variation of
dynamic. Now we have an A 1 section and an A 2 section which concludes at
bar 32. The arrangement then progresses into the B section written out with a
repeat in the same manner. I have composed transition figures, with all due
respect to Fernando Sor. The section beginning at bars 40 to 48 where Sor uses a
parallel B Major chord and modulates a brief excursion into E Minor always
asked me for a tempo change, so I instituted this idea in a tempo of 68 at bar 48.
There is then a gradual accelerando back to our 114 Allegretto tempo. This
same change occurs again at bar 72. Here, in order to avoid the Mozart to
Salieri (from the movie Amadeus) paraphrased comment of, “This part is played
exactly like the first time, right?” We are all supposed to smile at this moment.
I have utilized aspects of chordal harmony to differentiate this second slow
section repetition from the previous first slow section. Sor’s facsimile presents
a recurring melodic figure with polyphonic and harmonic accompaniments.
I have retained those characteristics and added enhancements of rubato and
vibrato as embellishments.
My arrangement of Sor’s piece is intended to be a warm and romanticized
concert showpiece as indicated in the previously cited passage of Dr. Radice.7
In the last bars of this arrangement, I have slowed the tempo considerably and
composed an ending beyond the repetitive scope of an exercise. This was done
for the purposes of variation, feeling, and interest.
I have arranged this piece for chamber music performances with instrumentations
for guitar and viola,8 guitar and cello,9 and guitar and string quartet. 10 My
arrangement for solo guitar is presently available as a sound file on my website.
Each of these editions are published by Dos Almas Music. I invite you to enjoy
listening to and playing this solo guitar arrangement, and to perform the
chamber music arrangements. Hopefully, you will experience an emotional
calm with this little beauty which will prevent you from taking your guitar and
smashing it (in the style of Jimi Hendrix), as Sor was known to do when his
playing was not going well.11
Thank you listeners, readers, fellow guitarists, and thank you Fernando Sor.
Louis Valentine Johnson
February 14, 2019
3 Brian Jeffery, Fernando Sor Complete Works for Guitar. Published by Shattinger International Music Corporation, 1977, 468 pages,
Three Volumes.
4 Brian Jeffery, Fernando Sor: Composer and Guitarist. Published by Tecla Editions, 1977, 197 pages, London.
5 Mark A. Radice, The Blue Hour, Studies by Fernando Sor. Dos Almas Records, 1999.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 Fernando Sor, Allegretto in B Minor, Op 35, No. 22, Dos Almas Music Publishing (Arr: Louis Valentine Johnson Editions), Grass Valley, CA.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
11 Brian Jeffery, Sor at 240, published by Sound Board, Vol. 44 No. 4. The Journal of the Guitar Foundation of America, 2018, 3 pages.



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