About this Recording
8.553449 - Guitar Recital: Jason Vieaux
English 

MERLIN

MERLIN / PUJOL / ORBON / KROUSE / BARRIOS MANGORE / MOREL / BUSTAMANTE

 

Guitar Music

 

The California-based Ian Krouse (b. 1956), once best known as a guitarist and founding member of the distinguished Falla Trio, is now better known for his award-winning compositions, which include an opera, orchestral works, song-cycles, four string quartets, and many works for guitar solo or ensemble. The Variations on a Moldavian Hora were commissioned in 1992 as a competition set-piece by the Guitar Foundation of America. The theme, taken from a collection of Klezmer melodies, is embellished with rarely used harmonics, florid accompaniments underneath the melody, and simultaneous double trills for right and left hand. The winner of that 1992 competition was Jason Vieaux, who has called the music the most technically difficult and one of the most musically challenging pieces he has ever performed. Many such set pieces are quickly (and gratefully) forgotten by the performers, but Vieaux has proudly added this one to his repertoire, for obvious reasons.

 

The Paraguayan Agustin Barrios Mangore (1885 -1944) was a touring guitar virtuoso and composer who demonstrated the enormous possibilities of his instrument to audiences throughout South America, the Caribbean, and (in the 1930s) Europe. For a time Barrios earned public attention by performing in the garb of a Guarani chieftain, but in spite of such gimmicks, or perhaps because of them, his appealing, folkloric music was inexplicably ignored by Segovia and the European guitarists of his generation. Recently Barrios' music, much of it recovered through transcriptions from old recordings, has enjoyed a major revival and has claimed its rightful place in the guitar's repertoire. Vieaux performs some of Barrios' best loved works, two waltzes from Op. 8 (Nos. 3 and 4) and the barcarole Julia Florida.

 

Julian Orbon de Soto (1925-1991) was a monumental figure in Cuban music. Born in Aviles, Spain, he moved to Cuba with his family in 1937. After studies with Jose Ardevol in Havana and Aaron Copland in Tanglewood, he became a founder of the influential Cuban Grupo renovaci6n musical in the 1940s. In 1960 Orbon emigrated, first to Mexico, where he taught at the National Conservatory and worked with Carlos Chavez, then in 1964 to the United States, where he taught at several distinguished institutions. Orb6n is best known for his large scale orchestral and choral works which draw on influences as diverse as Spanish Renaissance keyboard music and Afro- Cuban popular rhythms. The Preludio y danza, his lone work for guitar, was composed in New York in 1950/1951 for guitarist Rey de la Torre, who was his wife's cousin and a close friend. First performed in 1953, the work demonstrates Orb6n's equal skill composing in smaller formats.

 

The Argentinian Maximo Diego Pujol (b. 1957) has won competitions in both performance and composition. His five Preludios were published in 1985; each has a title, sometimes punning or whimsical. Prelude No.2 is in the form of a milonga, an Argentine dance related to the tango and habanera; it is subtitled Preludio Triston - "sad prelude." A triste is also an Argentine musical form, a sad gaucho song of the Pampas. The third prelude is called Tristango en vos - "sad-tango in you," a title which makes more sense when juxtaposed with that of the fifth prelude: Candombe en mi - "candombe in me." The mi, of course, is also a pun on the tonality of E minor in which the piece was written. A candombe is a South-American dance of African origin associated with the voodoo religion of Macumba.

 

The popular and prolific Argentine-American guitarist-composer Jorge Morel (b. 1931) began his guitar studies in Buenos Aires with his father, a famous actor. After further studies with Amparo Alvariza and the virtuoso Pablo Escobar, Morel emigrated to New York in 1961. A Choro (literally "weeping") is a popular Brazilian dance, originally performed by musicians called choroes. Morel's combines traditional Brazilian rhythms with North American blues; it was composed in New York in the late 1960s, and was originally dedicated to Chet Atkins. Contemporary harmonies are also evident in Morel's Danza in E minor, with its Afro-Cuban rhythms; it was composed during a visit to England in 1979-1980. The urban and jazzy Danza brasileira, one of Morel's best-known pieces, is closer in spirit to the modern samba and bossa nova. Morel also arranged for guitar the popular song Misionera by the Argentinian Fernando Bustamante. The title refers to Argentina's Misiones region, which extends between Paraguay and Brazil.

 

Jose Luis Merlin is a gifted Argentinian guitarist and composer whose works include many guitar solos, some pieces written for his fiautist-wife Deborah Lewin, and a stunning oratorio, La Travesia, based on the poetry of Jose Tcherkaski. Suite del Recuerdo is a six-movement musical hommage to his native land. A singing Evocaci6n presents the thematic material, a reminiscence of an estilo, a musical form characteristic of the Pampas; its welcome reappearance as the fifth movement of the suite is an unusual but effective device. Zamba is a dance from the mountainous northwestern region of Argentina, related to both the Chilean cueca and the Peruvian marinera; it is typically danced by a man and a woman in a sort of narrative of courtship. The Chacarera, related to the popular dance el gato, originated in the province of Santiago del Estero but can be heard in regional variants throughout Argentina. Carnavalito is another dance from the northwest, originating (as its name indicates) in the pre-Lenten festival of Carneval. Merlin's Joropo (a characteristic dance from Venezuela which somewhat resembles the marinera) begins with a mournful introduction evocative of the wooden flutes of the Andes, in striking contrast to the vivacious dance that follows.

 

@ 1995 Richard M. Long


 


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