About this Recording
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Pujol • Saúl • Ayala • Guastavino • Falú • Heinze
Guitar Music of Argentina

Throughout its recent history, South America has received successive currents of immigration. These, added to the native populations, have resulted in an ethnically diverse population, with a culture as rich as it is varied. The native inhabitants of these lands since ancient times, the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors in the sixteenth century, the African slaves in the seventeenth, and Italian, French and other European colonists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have all contributed to this their own customs, languages, religions, and, of course, their music. The works here included are an expression of the diversity of genres extant in the Republic of Argentina, not folk-music, but reflections of a unity in cultural diversity.

Victor Villadangos

Máximo Diego Pujol was born in Buenos Aires in 1957 and graduated from the Juan José Castro Provincial Conservatory. His instrumental studies were with Alfredo Vicente Gascón, Horacio Ceballos, Liliana Ardissone and Miguel Angel Girollet. He also studied harmony and composition under the guidance of Leónidas Arnedo. As a performer he has appeared throughout Argentina and at guitar festivals in Europe and Australia. His guitar compositions have won awards at competitions in Colombia, France and the World Festival in Martinique and in 1989 he was awarded the Argentine Composers’ Union prize as Best Composer of Classical Music. His work is strongly influenced by the great Argentine musician Astor Piazzolla. Like Piazzolla, Máximo Pujol uses the tango as a basic style in wonderfully colourful, melodically rich works that make full use of the expressive powers of the guitar. His Tres Piezas Rioplatenses (Three Pieces from the River Plate Region) attempt to summarize, as an integral work, the three great musical genres that emerge from the River Plate Basin: the tango, the milonga and the candombe. Written in the style of a little suite, the three pieces are linked to each other through a common melodic element. Usually there is no differentiation between the genres and the term "tango" is used for all forms of musical expression from the River Plate Basin. The tango, however, properly so called, is clearly urban and moderate in tempo; the milonga, of rural origin, is noted for its contemplative and somewhat melancholy character, and the candombe, stemming from Africa, for its rhythmic richness, and above all for the abundant syncopations, ostinatos and displaced accents.

Born in 1957, Narciso Saúl graduated from the Conservatorio Provincial Juan José Castro in 1975. Since 1980 he has taught at the College of Music Therapy at the Universidad del Salvador and, since 1988 at the Conservatorio Municipal Manuel de Falla. An arranger, composer and guitarist for the tango group Siglotreinta (The Thirties), he has participated in recordings and in eight European tours. He has worked with numerous popular music groups and artists and has composed and arranged for radio, television and short films. In 1998 he formed the guitar duo Saúl-Eiriz with his pupil Gustavo Eiriz, and they have performed together extensively in Buenos Aires and participated in the Fifth Annual Festival of Guitarras del Mundo (Guitars from Around the World) in September 1999. Boulevard San Jorge was composed in 1990 in Geneva during a European tour and takes its title from the street on which the composer lived for almost a month. The title was at first the actual name of the street, Boulevard de Saint Georges. Shortly afterwards, however, he modified it with a play on words and languages, dedicating the music to Jorge Luis Borges, whose remains lie directly in front of his former apartment. The work is built on a simple harmony with few chords and gives prominence to a clear, sad melody, recalling the rhythm and feeling of the tango.

Hector Ayala was born on 11th April 1914 in Concordia, in the Province of Entre Rios. He began his career as a guitarist in Buenos Aires and in 1936 he made his début with the guitarist Roberto Grela, accompanying various tango and folk-singers of the time. Later, he joined the so-called Escuadrones de Guitarra (Guitar Squadrons), groups of thirty to forty guitarists brought together and directed by Abel Fleury. In the 1950s he engaged in intense activity in radio in Buenos Aires and joined a tango quartet directed by Aníbal Troillo, one of the great revolutionary interpreters of the tango genre. As a composer Hector Ayala wrote numerous works for guitar of national inspiration and a series of didactic methods for teaching the instrument. He died in Buenos Aires on 12th March 1990. His Serie Americana (American Series) brings together a varied group of musical genres from six countries, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru, drawing on their richly varied national heritage and traditions.

Máximo Pujol’s Suite del Plata No. 1, in the manner of the baroque dance suite, brings together dances from the River Plate Basin (Buenos Aires), grouped for contrasts of tempo and content, preceded by a prelude. This work, like the Suite del Plata No. 2, originated from a commission by the Orphée publishing company (Columbia-USA) and is an attempt to express in an integrated single work, the musical genres of the River Plate Basin.

Carlos Guastavino was born in 1912 in Santa Fe, then a small city of about fifty thousand inhabitants. His father had intended his son to be a chemist, before he became aware of his early skill as a pianist, when he sent Guastavino to a German teacher, learning music before he could write. At the age of twenty Guastavino went to Buenos Aires, where he met Athos Palma, a great teacher and person, developing with him his very characteristic talents and his feeling for the music of Argentina. His Sonata No. 1 was written in 1967 and dedicated to his brother José Amadeo. His original idea had been to dedicate it to the Argentinian guitarist Roberto Lara, but when he was finishing writing the first movement, his brother committed suicide, perhaps as the result of a serious illness. Shocked by the news, he returned to his composition to make the second movement an elegy for his brother, who played the guitar as an amateur and used to improvise on traditional Argentinian melodies.

The composer and guitarist Juan Falú was born in Tucumán in 1948 and for a number of years has appeared in the major concert halls throughout Argentina and in more than twenty European, Asian and American countries. He can be heard in over thirty recordings as a soloist, along with various artists and as an invited guest artist, and his Con la guitarra que tengo and Luz de giro were selected as record of the year in 1985/86. Falú’s compositions for guitar are performed throughout the world, particularly in Argentina, and have been published in Buenos Aires, Paris, Brussels and San José, Costa Rica. He heads the department of Forms and Rhythms of Argentine Music at the Conservatorio Municipal Manuel de Falla in Buenos Aires and is director of important music and concert series such as Maestros del Alma (Masters of the Soul) and Guitarras del Mundo (Guitars from Around the World). His Tres Piezas include the folk-dances gato and chacarera. De la raíz a la copa (From the root to the treetop) is inspired by a poem that uses a metaphor of the tree, in which the root represents tradition and the tree-top the projections of itself. Chacarera ututa takes its name from the ututu, a variety of lizard in Quechua, a native South-American tribe and language, that lives in North Argentina. Del buen riego (Of the good irrigation) is in the form of a gato, like the first of the three pieces.

Walter Heinze is an Argentinian guitar player, composer and teacher, born in Entre Ríos. He has given concerts in Argentina and throughout South America, as well as in France, performing his own compositions, some of which have also been recorded by other guitarists in Argentina and abroad. Many of his former students who attended his classes at the Escuela de Música, Danza y Teatro in Paraná and the Instituto Superior de Música de la Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe, are now well-known soloists or members of musical groups in Argentina and other countries. The five studies grouped under the name Concordancias were written in 1996, the first three after a meeting with Harold Gramatges at his house in Havana and the remaining two a few months later. They were first performed by Victor Villadangos at the Guitar Seminar in Colón, Entre Ríos, in February 1997. The first and fourth are "slur studies", making use of this technical resource so characteristic of the guitar. The second is a short song, the third a tango with slurs in the first part and the fifth offers an arpeggio that in the second section reveals a minor pentatonic scale in the Huayno rhythm.

From notes supplied by the composers and by Nelly Menotti
English version: Keith Anderson

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