Latin American Guitar Festival (Gerald Garcia) (Naxos: 8.550273)
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Latin American Guitar Festival
Ever since the Spanish Conquistadores took various plucked instrumentssuch as the guitarra and vihuela to the New World in the 16th century, theguitar and its many relatives have flourished as the main instruments in everyday musical life in Latin America. Fur1her cultural interchange with Europe inthe 19th century resulted in syncopated and Latinised forms of popular Europeandances such as the Waltz. Schottische and Polka. Conversely, in the early 20thcentury, a purely Latin dance became the rage in European and American highsociety: this was the Tango, which was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires.
The present recording draws mainly from this vast heritage of Latin Americansong and dance. Of the composers represented, all are renowned as guitarists intheir own right, or have worked closely with guitarists.
Antonio Lauro was academically trained as a musician but early on wasclosely involved with the folk music of his country, singing and playing theguitar and cuatro (a tiny four-stringed guitar) in various groups. Hispopularity is based largely on his many pieces for the guitar which were firstbrought to the notice of a wider public through the work of his fellowVenezuelan and virtuoso guitarist. Alirio Diaz. His pieces are often namedafter people and places: Maria Luisai is the name of his wife, Natalia is hisdaughter, and Carora the birthplace of Diaz.
Both Jorge Morel and Jorge Cardoso are Argentinian virtuoso guitaristswith very different backgrounds: Morel lives in America and is well known as anarranger and performer while Cardoso studied to be a doctor and lives in Spain.
The guitar music of Leo Brouwer has become standard repertoire, and heis also renowned as a performer, conductor, composer of film scores and an avidresearcher into the musical roots of his country, Cuba. Drume Negrita (SleepLittle Black Girl) is a gentle lullaby while the Suite in D is an early piecewhich demonstates the composer's folk roots.
EI Diabio Suelto (The Devil at rest) was originally a piano piece, asort of Latin American ragtime, and hasbecome one of the most popular and arranged pieces in Venezuela. The songAlfonsina y el Mar (Alfonsina and the Sea) holds a similar position inArgentina, and its composer Ariel Ramirez is a renowned keyboard player andcomposer of the popular Misa Criolla, a folk mass.
The sounds of the Tango and the Milonga (a kind of cowboy music fromthe Pampas) are never far away from the music of Astor Piazzolla. Hiscompositions (he studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris) and performances (he isa master of the bandoneon, a kind of large concertina) transform theArgentinian tango in the way that the Suites of Bach transformed Baroque dancessuch as the Minuet and Sarabande: that is, the dance form is used as a vehiclefor a wider musical expression. His suite of five pieces for guitar wasinspired by the Five Bagatelles for guitar written by Sir William Walton forthe great English guitarist Julian Bream, and covers a similar gamut of musicalscenes and emotions.
Finally, the original sound of the Tango in its heyday is given atongue-in-cheek but affectionate homage by the young French guitarist, RolandDyens, who dubs the composition, un rien canaille, but actually achieves rathermore.
At his 1979 Wigmore Hall debut in London, one critic hailed GeraldGarcia as a performer of rare quality and he has been described by JohnWilliams as one of today's foremost guitarists. Garcia has made many tours ofthe Far East and Europe and has appeared at the major international festivalsin Great Britain, including the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh and South Bank Festivals.
His concert engagements have included performances with many leading ensemblesand soloists, among them the London Sinfonietta, John Williams and Friends andPaco Pena. With the flautist Clive Conway he has toured and broadcastextensively in Britain and has played at the Glastonbury Pop Festival and onthe ocean liner the QE II.
Gerald Garcia was born in Hong Kong and now lives in Oxford, his basefor a busy career as recitalist, composer and conductor.