Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fredric Fastow Compositions I

Fredric Fastow has taken one of my favorite instruments, the classical guitar, and used it to compose 30 original pieces for this blessing of a CD. Ranging from peppy and upbeat with “Hunting for Chamatz” and “Prayer for the Sea” -- which was so joyful I got up and danced -- to soft and gentle with numbers like “Last Prayer on Yom Kippur.”

Some of the selections, like “Simchat Torah March,” “Bar Mitzvah of Your Dreams” and “Bedouin Love Song,” sound like traditional Jewish music, while “Archeology” and “Whispers of the Old City” transcend any one religion with their timelessness. “Anticipating the Messiah” is hopelessness set to music, while “We Will Not Forget” represents determination. For playfulness and whimsy, “Baby’s First Chanukah” is a delight.

Fastow, whose music was new to me, is a lawyer and architect who has been playing the guitar for nearly 50 years and once studied with Stanley Solow.  He started composing relatively recently and described his method to me in this way: “First, I sit down and compose something. Second, I am noodling on the guitar and something interesting comes out or, third, I wake up from sleep and hear a melody in my head. ”

Besides this CD, Fastow has recorded "Jewish Songs for Classical Guitar," traditional melodies he arranged and recorded in 2001 for Transcontinental Music. "Compositions II," all original compositions played on various guitars and in various arrangements, is in the works. Fastow also plays at private parties, fund raisers, synagogue services, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and other special events. 

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