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Classical Guitarist

Michael Beaumont

 

Local Classical Guitarist Releases Third Recording

Jackson Hole Guide, September 27, 2000

 

Local guitarist Michael Beaumont's latest release, "A Fall Reflection," is aptly titled. Like the autumn season, this recording ushers in a sensation of seriousness and contemplation.

The CD is actually a collection of duets featuring Beaumont and cellist Bonnie Hartman. The two have been working together for several years, and the chemistry is immediately apparent in the recording.

Hartman carries much of the melodic responsibility through the 17 tracks, carefully balancing precision and artistic expression.

As an accompanist, Beaumont expertly maps out chordal and rhythmic movement, yet melds himself into the melodies at appropriate times. The album's second track, Bach's "Ave Maria," is perhaps the collection's finest display of this intermingling.

Also featured on this CD are pieces by Vivaldi, Bartok, Ravel and other composers who would be considered household names in the world of classical music. In deciding on repertoire for this album, Beaumont put a strong emphasis on accessibility.

"The more specialized the material, the narrower the audience," he explained. "I didn't want to appeal to only a small group of listeners."

While the album is not a difficult one for the listener, it does maintain a high enough degree of artistic integrity to be taken seriously. Though the material may be familiar to many, it is performed with such expertise that it truly illustrates the timelessness of the music.

"A Fall Reflection" is Beaumont's third release. He has been living in Victor since the mid-1990's, performing and recording regularly in the area. His experience as a musician is extremely varied, and classical music has become his niche only in the last decade.

Beaumont cites Pepe Romero as one of his greatest influences. As a young musician, he was intrigued by Romero's "From Renaissance to Baroque." Although his interest in classical guitar had been piqued, Beaumont went on to spend the next six years playing nearly every conceivable style except classical.

"It was always on the back burner, I suppose," he said.

Bonnie Hartman also occupies a spot high on the list of area residents with incredible credentials. She came to Teton Valley from New York, where she performed with such distinguished groups as the Metropolitan opera, the Orpheus Orchestra and in various Broadway musicals. Currently, Hartman is a regular with the Grand Teton Music Festival each summer, appearing both as a member of the orchestra as well as with chamber groups.


All three of Beaumont's CD's have been recorded at Rockhouse Recording Studio in Rexburg, Idaho. Engineer Trent Walker captured the magic of the sessions in a manner only a seasoned veteran could hope to do. The entire album begs to be played through an expensive audio system. The richness of the instruments is particularly evident in tracks eight and nine, Vivaldi's "Sonata No. 5 in E Minor, Movements 1&3."

Overall, "A Fall Reflection" is an excellent work.


Guitarist, Cellist Play Soothing Fall Program

Jackson Hole News, September 27, 2000

 

If autumn made a sound, it might very well sound like the guitar and cello duets performed by Michael Beaumont and Bonnie Hartman on their new compact disc, A Fall Reflection.

The two classical musicians went into the Rockhouse Recording studio in Rexburg, Idaho, last fall to start the project. They finished mixing and mastering the tapes in spring, and released the disc a couple of weeks ago.

"These things always take five times longer than you think they would," Beaumont said, but the results are 17 relaxed, unhurried tracks that reach from the Baroque to the 20th Century, a musical balm to be applied at the end of a marathon summer.

"Guitar and cello have always worked well together," said Beaumont. "They operate in the same frequency . . . the range of the cello and the range of the guitar are roughly the same, and the two instruments blend in well together."

None of the music on A Fall Reflection was originally composed for guitar and cello, so the musicians had to rearrange it all for their instrumentation. Sometimes that wasn't too difficult. Several works had been written for cello with another accompanying instrument, so all they had to do was redo the accompaniment for guitar.

Many pieces are familiar, even for folks who don't listen to a lot of classical music. J.S. Bach's "Arioso" from his Cantata BWV might not be recognized by name, but the wistful melody will be. At least half of "Ave Maria" is well known. One of Bach's famous preludes ripples beneath Charles Gounod's lovely melody. Also, "The Swan" from Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals and Pachebel's ubiquitous Canon in D are longtime favorites.

Some lesser known pieces include "Three Gymnopedies," some of the earliest compositions by Eric Satie. The piece, originally written for solo piano, features Beaumont playing the pulsing bass chords while the sound of Hartman's cello floats lazily above, like a cloud in a Maxfield Parish painting.

There are several Spanish and Spanish-influenced works on the disc, music especially suited for guitar. The traditional Spanish tune "Danza Mora" has characteristic spice and wine flavors, while Enrique Granados' "Andaluza" from his Spanish Dances No. 5 takes a tour through the rugged, Moorish-influenced region of Spain.

Maurice Ravel's "Piece en Forme de Habanera" gives a French take on the Spanish mood, utilizing the rhythm most often associated with tango to propel a slush seductive melody played on cello. Heitor Villa-Lobos, the Brazilian master, originally wrote his "Aria" from Bachianas Brasileiras for soprano and eight cellos, but he also transcribed it for soprano and guitar. Transcribing it for guitar and cello was almost "instant," Beaumont said.

Two movements from Vivaldi's Sonata No. 5 in E minor and three Roumanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok round out the disc. The Vivaldi is moody and somber, like a steely-skied November day. The Bartok dances are strong and rich, like an exotic cheese or hunk of peasant bread, but they are not without their fun. The "Braul," especially, has an infectious bounce, and the "Buciumeana" reeks of gypsy romance.

A Fall Reflection is the first recorded collaboration between Beaumont and Hartman; in fact, it's Beaumont's first disc that is not a solo. But the two musicians have performed together for quite some time, playing at weddings and private functions, and have both been involved in the Sybil Wiancko Community Concert series at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

The duo are planning several public concerts in November and December, stay tuned for details.

 

 

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