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LAURO: Venezuelan Waltzes for Guitar

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Antonio Lauro(1917-1986)

Works for Guitar

Antonio Lauro (1917-1986) was born in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. Hisfather was a barber who sang and played the guitar, but he died when Antoniowas five years old, and the family moved to Caracas. Antonio began traditionalmusical studies (piano, composition) at the Academia de M??sica y Declamacion,where his teachers included the distinguished composer Vicente Emilio Sojo(1887-1974). A 1932 concert by Agustin Barrios, the legendary Paraguayanguitarist and composer, convinced the young Lauro (already an accomplished folkguitarist) to abandon piano and violin and concentrate upon the guitar. From1933, he studied with Ra??l Borges (1888-1967), who introduced him to thetraditional classical guitar repertory. In the next decade, Borges' pupilswould also include Rodrigo Riera, Jose Rafael Cisneros, and Alirio Diaz, whowas responsible for exposing Lauro's works to an international audience andintroducing them to the likes of Andres Segovia and John Williams.

Like many South Americans of his generation, Lauro was a ferventcultural nationalist, determined to rescue and celebrate his nation's musicalheritage. As a member of the Trio Cantores del Tropico in 1935-43 (Lauro sangbass and played both guitar and cuatro), he toured nearby countries tointroduce them to Venezuelan music. Lauro was particularly attracted to themyriad colonial parlour valses created in the previous century byaccomplished national composers such as Ramon Delgado Palacios (1867-1902).

Unfailingly melodic, alternately wistful and brilliant, and characterized by adistinctive syncopation (created by a hemiola in which two measures of 3/4become a single measure of 3/2), such music was precisely the sort of folkloricraw material which the likes of Smetana or Granados had elevated to nationalart in Europe. A programme of such valses by the distinguishedVenezuelan pianist Evencio Castellanos (1914-1984) convinced Lauro that theguitar, too, should have such pieces in its repertory. Among his first effortsin this genre were the pieces later known as Tatiana, Andreina, and Natalia,composed sometime between 1938 and 1940; their popularity inspired stillothers. In addition to his guitar pieces, Lauro composed dozens of works fororchestra, choir, piano and voice; many of which remain unpublished. Hesometimes experimented with modern compositional techniques, but most of hisguitar music remains essentially on the Calle real or "mainstreet," an expression used by musicians of Lauro's generation to refer toa straight and direct route, without distracting harmonic detours.

In 1951-2, the military junta of General Marcos Perez Jimenezimprisoned Lauro for his principled belief in democracy. Lauro later shruggedoff the experience, telling his friends that prison was a normal part of lifefor the Venezuelan man of his generation. He had continued composing even inprison, and after his release immediately returned to performing with apioneering professional classical guitar trio, the Trio Ra??l Borges. In thenext decades Lauro's compositions were published, recorded, and performedthroughout the world, and his contributions to his nation's musical life wererecognized and acknowledged. Lauro was appointed professor of guitar at severaldistinguished schools including the Juan Jose Landaeta Conservatory, and wasnamed president of the Venezuelan Symphonic Orchestra. In spite of his modestinsistence that he was a composer rather than a performer, he was persuaded byhis friends to embark upon a solo concert tour which began in Venezuela andculminated in a triumphant 1980 performance at London's Wigmore Hall Shortlybefore his death in 1986, he was presented with the Premio nacional demusica, his country's highest artistic award.

Seis por derecho: Joropo, subtitled al estilo del arpa venezolana, isan extraordinarily successful version of this energetic regional dance. Likethe vals venezolano, the joropo makes extensive use of a hemiola,in this case an alternation of 6/8 and ?¥. The title of this work comes from thelaneros (inhabitants of the Venezuelan plains) who approved of itsinsistent rhythm (6/8 = seis), thus giving it the right (derecho)to be so named. The next four pieces recorded here are classic valsesvenezolanos: Maria Carolina, unpublished until 1983, was originallyentitled Iliana, but was renamed by the composer after one of hisnieces. El Marabino (a more common term is maracucho) refers to a native of Maracaibo, where Lauro himself lived for a time.

Lauro once told his pupil Luis Zea that he had named Maria Luisa afterhis wife, and that the piece was as difficult as she was - a comment whichlater caused Senora Lauro to burst into laughter. In fact, it is a veryromantic work, the second section of which was inspired by Chopin's Waltz inA flat, Op. 69, No. 1. Angostura is the ancient name for Ciudad Bolivar,Lauro's birthplace.

Adios a Ocumare is a composition by ?üngel Maria Mandaeta which wasarranged for guitar by Lauro and included in a set of Three VenezuelanPieces published in 1984. Also included in this set was Lauro's arrangementof Papelon, a folk-song from his native Ciudad Bolivar. Nelly (dedicatedto Lauro's friend Nelly de Afanador) is a gaita, a dance similar to the joropo.

Lauro wrote his Suite venezoluna, consisting of Registro(Preludio), Danza negra, Cancion, and Vals during his imprisonmentin 1951-52. The curiously named first movement, Registro, refers to thesort of improvising (registrar) a musician might do to warm up his handsor to explore a new or unfamiliar instrument; it is therefore equivalent to theItalian term ricercare as it was used originally used in theRenaissance. Lauro used the identical title for the first movement of his Suitepara piano. The Danza negra is an Afro-?¡Venezuelan dance which quotesa Venezuelan folksong San Pedro; another popular tune, La Tumba, isquoted in both of the last two movements, a typical cancion de serenata anda vals. Lauro wrote the waltz El nino in 1971 and dedicated it tohis eldest son, Leonardo.

The first three of the 4 Valses venezolanos were composed inEcuador in 1938-40 while Lauro was touring there with the Trio Cantores delTropico; years later, after the pieces had been published, Lauro decided toname them after his niece Tatiana, her sister Andreina, and hisown daughter Natalia, respectively. The last is by far Lauro's mostfamous work, commonly known as Vals criollo (the title under which itwas recorded by Segovia), or as Vals No. 3 (the title under which it waspublished in 1963). The fourth waltz, Yacamh??, is in rondo form withcurious chromaticisms and unexpected harmonies; it was named for a picturesquemountainous area of western Venezuela.

Et Negrito (referring to Lauro's youngest son Luis Augusta) and La gatica (thekitten, a nickname for his wife) were published together in 1984; they wereintended to be played as a pair Lauro's Triptico consists of threepieces in E minor which the composer collected together to comply with arequest from Andres Segovia. The first of these, Armida, is a contemplativecancion named after the composer's sister. Madrugada (beforedawn) is an appoggiatura study inspired by one of Soja's few original works forguitar,
Item number 8554348
Barcode 636943434826
Release date 02/01/2000
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Holzman, Adam
Holzman, Adam
Composers Lauro, Antonio
Lauro, Antonio
Disc: 1
1 Seis por derecho: Joropo
2 Maria Carolina
3 El Marabino
4 Maria Luisa
5 Angostura
6 Adios a Ocumare
7 Papelon
8 Nelly
9 I Registro (Preludio)
10 II Danza negra
11 III Cancion
12 IV Vals
13 El nino
14 Vals No. 1
15 Vals No. 2
16 Vals No. 3 (Vals criollo)
17 Vals No. 4 (Yacambu)
18 El Negrito
19 La gatica
20 1. Amida
21 2. Madrugada
22 3. La Negra
23 Variaciones sobre una cancion infantil venezolana
24 Zulay
25 Carora
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