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Classical Guitar Magazine
Latin American Guitar Festival
Ever since the Spanish Conquistadores took various plucked instruments
such as the guitarra and vihuela to the New World in the 16th century, the
guitar and its many relatives have flourished as the main instruments in every
day musical life in Latin America. Fur1her cultural interchange with Europe in
the 19th century resulted in syncopated and Latinised forms of popular European
dances such as the Waltz. Schottische and Polka. Conversely, in the early 20th
century, a purely Latin dance became the rage in European and American high
society: this was the Tango, which was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires.
The present recording draws mainly from this vast heritage of Latin American
song and dance. Of the composers represented, all are renowned as guitarists in
their own right, or have worked closely with guitarists.
Antonio Lauro was academically trained as a musician but early on was
closely involved with the folk music of his country, singing and playing the
guitar and cuatro (a tiny four-stringed guitar) in various groups. His
popularity is based largely on his many pieces for the guitar which were first
brought to the notice of a wider public through the work of his fellow
Venezuelan and virtuoso guitarist. Alirio Diaz. His pieces are often named
after people and places: Maria Luisai is the name of his wife, Natalia is his
daughter, and Carora the birthplace of Diaz.
Both Jorge Morel and Jorge Cardoso are Argentinian virtuoso guitarists
with very different backgrounds: Morel lives in America and is well known as an
arranger and performer while Cardoso studied to be a doctor and lives in Spain.
The guitar music of Leo Brouwer has become standard repertoire, and he
is also renowned as a performer, conductor, composer of film scores and an avid
researcher into the musical roots of his country, Cuba. Drume Negrita (Sleep
Little Black Girl) is a gentle lullaby while the Suite in D is an early piece
which demonstates the composer's folk roots.
EI Diabio Suelto (The Devil at rest) was originally a piano piece, a
sort of Latin American ragtime, and has
become one of the most popular and arranged pieces in Venezuela. The song
Alfonsina y el Mar (Alfonsina and the Sea) holds a similar position in
Argentina, and its composer Ariel Ramirez is a renowned keyboard player and
composer of the popular Misa Criolla, a folk mass.
The sounds of the Tango and the Milonga (a kind of cowboy music from
the Pampas) are never far away from the music of Astor Piazzolla. His
compositions (he studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris) and performances (he is
a master of the bandoneon, a kind of large concertina) transform the
Argentinian tango in the way that the Suites of Bach transformed Baroque dances
such as the Minuet and Sarabande: that is, the dance form is used as a vehicle
for a wider musical expression. His suite of five pieces for guitar was
inspired by the Five Bagatelles for guitar written by Sir William Walton for
the great English guitarist Julian Bream, and covers a similar gamut of musical
scenes and emotions.
Finally, the original sound of the Tango in its heyday is given a
tongue-in-cheek but affectionate homage by the young French guitarist, Roland
Dyens, who dubs the composition, un rien canaille, but actually achieves rather
At his 1979 Wigmore Hall debut in London, one critic hailed Gerald
Garcia as a performer of rare quality and he has been described by John
Williams as one of today's foremost guitarists. Garcia has made many tours of
the Far East and Europe and has appeared at the major international festivals
in Great Britain, including the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh and South Bank Festivals.
His concert engagements have included performances with many leading ensembles
and soloists, among them the London Sinfonietta, John Williams and Friends and
Paco Peña. With the flautist Clive Conway he has toured and broadcast
extensively in Britain and has played at the Glastonbury Pop Festival and on
the ocean liner the QE II.
Gerald Garcia was born in Hong Kong and now lives in Oxford, his base
for a busy career as recitalist, composer and conductor.
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Latin American Guitar Festival