MERLIN / PUJOL / ORBON / KROUSE / BARRIOS MANGORE / MOREL /BUSTAMANTE
The California-based Ian Krouse (b. 1956), oncebest 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 guitarsolo or ensemble. The Variations on a Moldavian Hora were commissionedin 1992 as a competition set-piece by the Guitar Foundation of America. Thetheme, taken from a collection of Klezmer melodies, is embellished with rarelyused harmonics, florid accompaniments underneath the melody, and simultaneousdouble trills for right and left hand. The winner of that 1992 competition wasJason Vieaux, who has called the music the most technically difficult and oneof the most musically challenging pieces he has ever performed. Many such setpieces are quickly (and gratefully) forgotten by the performers, but Vieaux hasproudly 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 enormouspossibilities of his instrument to audiences throughout South America, theCaribbean, and (in the 1930s) Europe. For a time Barrios earned public attention byperforming in the garb of a Guarani chieftain, but in spite of such gimmicks,or perhaps because of them, his appealing, folkloric music was inexplicablyignored by Segovia and the European guitarists of his generation. RecentlyBarrios' music, much of it recovered through transcriptions from oldrecordings, has enjoyed a major revival and has claimed its rightful place inthe guitar's repertoire. Vieaux performs some of Barrios' best loved works, twowaltzes from Op. 8 (Nos. 3 and 4) and the barcarole Julia Florida.
JulianOrbon de Soto(1925-1991) was a monumental figure in Cuban music. Born in Aviles, Spain, he moved to Cuba with his family in1937. After studies with Jose Ardevol in Havana and Aaron Copland in Tanglewood,he became a founder of the influential Cuban Grupo renovaci6n musical inthe 1940s. In 1960 Orbon emigrated, first to Mexico, where he taught at theNational Conservatory and worked with Carlos Chavez, then in 1964 to the United States, where he taught atseveral distinguished institutions. Orb6n is best known for his large scaleorchestral and choral works which draw on influences as diverse as SpanishRenaissance keyboard music and Afro- Cuban popular rhythms. The Preludio y danza,his lone work for guitar, was composed in New York in 1950/1951 forguitarist Rey de la Torre, who was his wife's cousin and a close friend. Firstperformed in 1953, the work demonstrates Orb6n's equal skill composing insmaller formats.
The Argentinian Maximo Diego Pujol (b. 1957) haswon competitions in both performance and composition. His five Preludios werepublished in 1985; each has a title, sometimes punning or whimsical. PreludeNo.2 is in the form of a milonga, an Argentine dance related to thetango 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 preludeis called Tristango en vos - "sad-tango in you," a title whichmakes more sense when juxtaposed with that of the fifth prelude: Candombe enmi - "candombe in me." The mi, of course, is also a pun onthe tonality of E minor in which the piece was written. A candombe is aSouth-American dance of African origin associated with the voodoo religion of Macumba.
The popular and prolific Argentine-Americanguitarist-composer Jorge Morel (b. 1931) began his guitar studies in Buenos Aires with his father, afamous actor. After further studies with Amparo Alvariza and the virtuoso PabloEscobar, 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 ChetAtkins. 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. Theurban and jazzy Danza brasileira, one of Morel's best-known pieces, iscloser in spirit to the modern samba and bossa nova. Morel alsoarranged for guitar the popular song Misionera by the ArgentinianFernando Bustamante. The title refers to Argentina's Misiones region,which extends between Paraguay and Brazil.
Jose Luis Merlin is a gifted Argentinianguitarist and composer whose works include many guitar solos, some pieceswritten for his fiautist-wife Deborah Lewin, and a stunning oratorio, La Travesia,based on the poetry of Jose Tcherkaski. Suite del Recuerdo is asix-movement musical hommage to his native land. A singing Evocaci6n presentsthe thematic material, a reminiscence of an estilo, a musical formcharacteristic of the Pampas; its welcome reappearance as the fifth movement ofthe suite is an unusual but effective device. Zamba is a dance from themountainous northwestern region of Argentina, related to both the Chilean cuecaand the Peruvian marinera; it is typically danced by a man and awoman in a sort of narrative of courtship. The Chacarera, related to thepopular dance el gato, originated in the province of Santiago del Estero but can be heard inregional variants throughout Argentina. Carnavalito is another dance from thenorthwest, originating (as its name indicates) in the pre-Lenten festival of Carneval.
Merlin's Joropo (a characteristic dance from Venezuela which somewhatresembles the marinera) begins with a mournful introduction evocative ofthe wooden flutes of the Andes, in striking contrast to the vivacious dance that follows.
@ 1995 Richard M. Long