Matthew Hough: When Summer Ends  (2016)

...a refreshingly uplifting array of dreamlike soundscapes..”

-Rebecca Cullen, Stereo Stickman (Aug 10, 2016).


Matthew Hough: Music from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach  (2014)

The only disappointing thing about this CD is that it is so short. Here, guitarist Matthew Hough has taken 15 short works from the Anna Magdalena Bach collection (some of them are actually composed by Petzold, Böhm, or C. P. E. Bach) and arranged them for two guitars, which are played with a pick rather than strummed with the fingers. This creates a “warmer, more folk-oriented sound,” according to the accompanying documentation, although not everyone who listens to this disc will regard it in that manner. In 2012, Hough published these arrangements (Hough House Music Publishers), so this CD serves as a sort of demonstration of that publication for other guitarists–that probably explains its length–as well as an enjoyable listening experience on its own. It certainly leaves one wanting more.

Hough’s arrangements maintain the charming simplicity of the originals, and his and Juan Calderon’s unfussy performances let the music speak for itself. There’s not a lot of variety here, in terms of tempo, but that isn’t surprising, because 11 of the 15 pieces are minuets. The result is Bach around the campfire, if you will, so pass the s’mores and the coffee pot. Perhaps Hough and Calderon can be induced to create a full-length program in the near future. In the meantime, this CD gives one’s musical palate a brief tease and cleansing. It can be obtained through

-Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare 37:6 (Jul/Aug 2014), 223.

As a pianist, I was exposed to the music of what are considered the essential composers of the Western Classical canon from a very early age. Plectrum guitarists, on the other hand, usually get very few opportunities to play this music during their education. Composer/guitarist Matthew Hough undertook to ameliorate this situation in 2012 with the publication of his Music from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach for two plectrum guitars, which contains several careful arrangements of pieces from the 1725 notebook. This new album is a recording of those pieces by Hough and fellow composer/guitarist Juan Calderon.

Beyond its educational significance, the album is a pleasure to listen to, giving a refreshing new take on very familiar pieces. I personally prefer Hough and Calderon’s performance of the Musette BWVapp. 126 (track 10) to the keyboard version, with its jaunty leaping octaves and playful tunes; the last track, a March by C.P.E. Bach, benefits similarly from the arrangement as well as the use of the plectrum. Then there’s the opening Polonaise (BWVapp. 119) for which the resonance of the two guitars adds a nice tinge of gravitas.

Overall, the album provides an almost folksy (thanks to the plectra) lens through which to hear these pieces, providing an aural result that is perhaps not too far from its 18th century origins.

Music from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach is available for online order at Original Abstractions (and is also available at iTunes, Google Play, Bandcamp, Amazon, and CD Baby), and the accompanying score can be purchased from Hough House Music Publishers.

-Meg Wilhoite, Chamber Musician Today <online at>

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