Concerto for Guitar and Strings
Concerto for Guitar and Strings is written in a style that imprints the composer’s own musical influences as a guitarist and composer with references to the traditions found in many guitar masterworks. Scored for solo guitar and string orchestra, the Concerto presents melody, harmony, and form in a contemporary voice that embodies a classical spirit. The work is constructed in three movements, utilizing modal and other altered scales for melodic and harmonic content. The Concerto is characterized by a structure that employs changing and asymmetrical meters and rhythmic patterns.
With his earliest musical experiences learning classical music in the school choir while taking guitar lessons on the East Side of Detroit MI, Lentini eventually began playing lead guitar and singing in rock bands at the age of 15. This experience helped to shape his skills as a player, songwriter, and arranger. When he entered Wayne State University as a classical guitar major in the mid-1970’s, he studied the instrument with Charles Postlewate and Joe Fava. Fava was the author of a popular guitar method book series and served as a member of the live orchestra that played broadcasts on WJR radio. He was also an influential teacher who taught many of the great guitarists in the region, including the legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell. Along with the classical guitar, Lentini studied composition during his days at Wayne State, writing works for ensembles and orchestra. The Concerto is influenced by the composer's experiences during this period, where he was performing in concerts and clubs in a vibrant musical town that embraced a range of musical styles, including classical, jazz, and rock.
The composition date for the completed Concerto is 1996, though sketches for the work were penned when Lentini performed an early version of the piece on a recital that culminated his studies in classical guitar and composition at Wayne State University dating back to 1981. The first movement, “Andante,” begins with the guitar and orchestra together, delivering an opening musical motive that serves as the foundation for the whole movement. The second movement, “Adagio,” opens with a foreboding passage in the low strings that sets the tone for a movement that brings a feeling of deep reflection to the surface. The final movement, “Allegro,” opens energetically with an introduction that leads to statements from the guitar alternating with solos from the violin and cello. The fast opening leads to a melodic and expressive second section that moves to an inner cadenza from the guitar, finally returning to the opening idea to close the concerto with a flourish.
Special thanks to Oakland University and President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz for supporting this project. This recording is dedicated to the memory of the composer's mother, Mary Lou Lentini, who passed away on January 25, 2019. — James Lentini
Concerto for Guitar and Strings is published by Les Édition Doberman-Yppan (DO 1251):
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