Latin American Guitar Music

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Latin American Guitar Music

The guitar has become inextricably woven into the soul ofLatin American music since its arrival from the Iberian Peninsula. From themeditative vihuela tablatures to the gut-wrenching songs of gypsy cantaores,the guitar personified aesthetic opposites, which played a key r??le in theevolution of its sound in the Americas. European forms and dances weretransformed by the magic realism and inexhaustible angst of the New World intoa unique language full of verve, passion, defiance, pathos and ebullientsensuality. Valse-Pasillo-Joropo, Milonga-Candombe-Tango...Salsa-Merengue-Vallenato... Saudade-Samba- Bossa Nova...and so on. No onecollection could possibly represent the sheer breadth and variety of musicalforms we know today as Latin America. The music included here representscontrasting styles from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and a timeless ballad fromCuba's Leo Brouwer.

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), the controversial pioneer ofthe avant-garde Tango, transformed the music to instrumental high art. Hisrestless fusion of jazz, modern and traditional Tango yielded some of the mostsought-after compositions for arrangers and performers alike. I arranged thisversion of La muerte del angel and Primavera portena for solo guitar fromprinted chart editions and Piazzolla's 1973 recording.

The bewitching melancholy of the waltzes of Dilermando Reis(1916-1977) is hard to resist on a first hearing. Se ela preguntar (If I shouldask her) and Promessa have become standards of Brazilian popular music. Unlikethe music of Gnatali, Gismonti or Pereira, Reis preferred the more traditionalBrazilian guitar style, full of tenderness and with a singular rubato.

Better known for his modern virtuosic solo guitar Sambas andCh??ros, Marta by Marco Pereira (b.1956) reveals an enchanting vulnerabilitywith its folding half-step harmonies and progressions.

The exceptional pianist Horacio Salgan became one of thepioneers of the 'New Tango' during the 1960s. His music elevated traditionalTango to solo and chamber music repertoire. This arrangement of Don AgustinBardi came from an old cassette recording which Jorge Morel transcribed by ear.

One of the outstanding singer/composers of the Tango's earlyyears, Angel Villoldo, composed his      El Choclo around 1903 in therestaurant where it was first played. Referred to as a Tango Criollo (CreoleTango), El Choclo became a classic and sold over 30,000 printed copies. Myarrangement comes from a printed piano version of the original.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1957, the guitarist-composer MaximoDiego Pujol creates music that blends old and new with cosmopolitan eleganceand exciting rhythmic urgency. His innate feel for the spirit of milonga can beheard in much of his music. The haunting sadness of the simple architecture ofStella australis contrasts with the complex and dynamic mood changes outlinedin the Elegia por la muerte de un tanguero (Elegy for the Death of a Tanguero),a three-movement homage to Astor Piazzolla.

The admiration shown by Jorge Morel (b.1931) for traditionalAmerican jazz is evident in much of his solo guitar music and orchestralwriting. His roots, however, are deeply embedded in the soul of milonga, andhis knowledge of Argentinian and South American popular style is tastefullypresent through his arrangements and original compositions. Milonga del viento(Milonga of the Wind) evokes nostalgic images through the unique \wind-chime"effect of campanella fingerings on the guitar. 

In sharp contrast to Morel's Milonga, the Uruguyan AbelCarlevaro's Milonga oriental is a studied and driving bass-milonga with anOriental flavour.

Evocative of Gershwin's piano themes, Little Rhapsody is aplayer's delight, complete with irresistible triple-meter themes, pseudo-jazzprogressions and idiomatic guitar riffs. The more quietly flowing lines of theDanza in E minor take us back to a not-so-distant past of South America.

Un dia de noviembre (One Day in November) became an instanthit with audiences and guitar enthusiasts around the world. With the exceptionof its simple and heartfelt lyricism, this gently rocking and evocative balladis unlike most of Leo Brouwer's (b.1939) contemporary and rhythmically complexmusic.

Ricardo Cobo

Disc: 1
Primavera portena - Tango (arr. R. Cobo)
1 La muerte del angel - Tango (arr. R. Cobo)
2 Se ela preguntar - Waltz (Paschoito)
3 Promessa - Waltz (Paschoito)
4 Don Agustin Bardi (arr. Morel)
5 El Choclo (arr. R. Cobo)
6 Stella australis
7 Milonga del viento
8 Milonga oriental
9 Little Rhapsody
10 Danza in E minor
11 Un dia de Noviembre
12 I. Confuseta
13 II. Melancolia
14 III. Epilogo
15 Marta
16 Primavera portena - Tango (arr. R. Cobo)
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