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CD Review by Raymond Tuttle

GRIEG (arr. Fletcher) Lyric Pieces, opp. 12 and 68. Peer Gynt: Solveig’s Song. Holberg Suite: Sarabande. Melody,op. 47/3. Peasant’s Song, op. 65/2. Once Upon a Time, op. 71/1. Lullaby, op. 66/7. In My Homeland, op. 43. Elegy,op. 47/7. Remembrances, op. 71/1 • Peter Fletcher (gtr) • CENTAUR 3306 (61:13)

This is American guitarist Peter Fletcher’s third CD for Centaur of piano music that he himself has arranged for guitar. (The first two discs were devoted to Mompou and Satie, respectively.) Grieg’s miniatures—indeed, there are 23 individual works on this CD—work well on the guitar because they are straightforward and unaffected, and unconcerned with making a big statement. They do not make unreasonable demands on the listener; each one is like a short story told by a trusted friend. Fletcher’s arrangements pass a basic test: In giving us a “new look” at the composer and his music, they do not leave the listener pining for the originals. In their original versions, these works generally are within the reach of amateur pianists. (In my younger days I bluffed my way through the op. 68 book of Lyric Pieces.) I think these guitar arrangements are more difficult to play. (Perhaps that is because I never played the guitar!) Be that as it may, Fletcher’s performances bear not a trace of strain or awkwardness. His playing reminds me of Segovia’s—not Segovia at the end of his career, when he sometimes sounded a little too careful, but Segovia at the time of his several Decca LPs from the 1950s and 1960s. This is mellow playing, and melody is king, but rhythmic vitality is never sacrificed, phrasing is precise, and harmonies always retain a jewel-like clarity. In three of the individual works, Fletcher overdubbed a second guitar part onto the first. He did this not to create the impression of a guitar duet, but to “create the sound of one guitar” playing more homophonically complex works. He did this so successfully that I suspect most listeners will be completely unaware of the overdubbing, unless they read about it in the performer’s booklet note. Such was the case for me. This program was recorded in a studio in the Bronx, and it accentuates the warmth and intimacy of Fletcher’s playing. String noise, while present, is never obtrusive. This is a superb CD for relaxation, but, heard more attentively, it loses none of its appeal. Highly recommended!Raymond Tuttle

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:6 (July/Aug 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.