About this Recording
8.550273 - Latin American Guitar Festival

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 more.

Gerald Garcia
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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