Price $25.00 (AU)
Rich, pulsating and rhythmic, the music of ancient Latin America was embellished
with colourful costumes, song, dance and mythology – unique in the story
it told, the culture it represented and the community it articulated. When
Cortes landed in Mexico with the first Spanish conquistadores in 1519, it brought
to America’s South the vihuela (viola), and later the guitar. What ensued
was a cross pollination of traditional Latin American music and aristocratic
Spanish guitar, which would revolutionise the landscape of classical guitar.
Latin American guitar is a hybrid of cultures, techniques and styles – European,
African, Caribbean and Amerindian. The legacy of this genre is a body of work
that has found appreciation and affinity with people around the globe. Hasta
Mañana (Spanish for “See you tomorrow”) is a celebration
of this dynamic, culturally rich genre. It seeks to strike a tenuous balance
between intellectually artistic music and the authenticity and vivacity of
popular music, which Latin American guitar has mastered.
Canvassing works from the last 100 years, Hasta Mañana is appropriately
nostalgic, paying homage to the South American artists who kept the composer/performer
phenomena alive. With two original compositions, this album looks forward to
the future of classical guitar, as it crosses more boundaries. Almost a samba,
Hasta Mañana (2007) is breezy and playful, incorporating a subtle Bossa
Nova rhythm and jazz flavoured chords. Let it transport you to South America.
A still and balmy evening comes to life with energetic rhythms and lively melodies
in Rio de Janeiro. It was here, in the early 1900s, that Brazilian composer
Heitor Villa-Lobos immersed himself in the street music scene. Soon after,
Villa-Lobos went on a quest for musical identity – an exploration of
Brazil’s dense forests, the Amazon and African and Caribbean villages.
Later these experiences would come together in Choros #1 (1920), written by
Villa-Lobos for guitar and dedicated to his street music friends (choroes).
Echoing the music of the street, it reflects a variety of Brazilian musical
styles. Schottish-Chôro (1908, from Suite populaire brèsileira),
also reminiscent of Villa-Lobos’ time as a chorao, incorporates the improvisation
and counterpoint of the small ensembles that would play choros, based on dances
of European origin, such as the waltz.
The Tango began its life as a Spanish flamenco dance before it was adopted
as Buenos Aires’ own dance, and an expression of working class life.
With it came a lingo, dress code and what has been described as “a certain
street swagger”. Sensuous, syncopated and romantic, the tango became
a sensation in Paris in the Jazz age, but traditionally musical accompaniment
was simple and folksy, often guitar. In 1890, Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz
wrote what became one of the best known tangos as part of his España
suite (Op 165). This new arrangement for guitar (2008), transposed down a fourth,
seeks to capture the rich tones of the instrument. Click
here to download this full track for free (3.9 MB)
Argentinian Jorge Morel is a composer/performer whose work has been described
as exuding “bracingly modern rhythms and harmonies“. Drawing on
South American dance rhythms, Morel’s contribution to the guitar’s
repertoire includes Danza Brasilera (1981), a samba with noteable jazz influences,
while Morel’s exciting arrangement of Bustamante’s Misionera employs
typical flamenco techniques such as tremolo and rasgueado.
“Estrellita, little star, keep gleaming
Send down your lovely light to cheer my lonely night… ”
So sang Hollywood sensation Deanna Durbin in the 1930s, popularising Manuel
Ponce’s Estrellita. In 1944 Hollywood again made use of Ponce’s
delicate and mesmerising ballad in the film Two Girls and a Sailor. Nostalgic
and romantic, this new arrangement (2006) tunes the low E string down to a
D and makes prominent use of harmonics. A Mexican pianist and composer, Manuel
Ponce’s Scherzino Mexicano (1909) is both nationalistic and light-hearted,
playing with rhythm and subtly shifting metres.
The Viennese waltz was hugely popular in the 19th century. Today, thanks to
a revival of ballroom dancing in recent years, its popularity continues alongside
dances with Latin American roots. Venezuelan guitarist/composer Antonio Lauro
is best known for his Venezuelan Waltzes. El Negrito and La Gatica (1984) are
dedicated to his son and his wife respectively, while Angostura is the name
of the city where Lauro was born. El Marabino is the name given to someone
who comes from the city of Maracaibo. Aire de Joropo (composed by Benito Canonico,
harmonised by Lauro, 1968) is a Joropo, a dance immensely popular in Venezuala.
A prodigy at 13, Paraguayan Agustin Barrios Mangoré was one of the
great virtuoso composer/performers of the twentieth century. Noted for his
originality and spirit, Barrios’ music is said to contain the earthiness
and sadness found in Latin American literature. Reflective, lyrical and descriptive,
La Catedral (1921) re-tells Barrios’ experience of hearing Bach played
on the church organ of San José, Montevideo. Barrios captures the transition
as he walks from the cathedral out into the street, full of light and movement,
the church bells soon ringing in the background. Preludio (Saudade) was added
to La Catedral twenty years after Andante religioso and Allegro Solemne were
composed. Yearning and richly melodic, Julia Florida (1938) creates nostalgia
for the Romantic Movement. It takes the form of a barcarolle, the song of the
Venetian gondoliers, typically in a lilting 6/8 metre. Evoking Ameridian culture
is Cueca (1925), the Chilean national dance, utilizing the extreme range of
the instrument and incorporating a tambora passage.
Argentinean Jorge Cardoso is the composer of some 270 pieces and the author
of South American rhythms and musical forms. Milonga (1980) forms part of a
genre from Uruguay and Argentina, making use of campanella, the typical South
American guitar technique which lets the strings ring or overlap in a harp
like fashion. The middle voice outlines a clave rhythm, while the melody asks
and answers questions.
Often described as the most popular Spanish song ever written, La Paloma (“The
Dove”) was inspired by Sebastian de Yradier’s visit to Cuba in
1861. Like many of Yradier’s songs, La Paloma makes use of the very distinctive
Cuban habanera rhythm. La Paloma was immediately popular in Mexico, and soon
throughout the Americas and Europe, and has been performed by many famous singers
including Viardot and Patti.
Over the years the union of Latin American Music and classical guitar has
captured nature, created a romantic setting, re-created time and place or artfully
expressed life’s experiences. Esther’s Lullaby (2008), designed
to be the closing moments of Hasta Mañana, is a piece to play during
the closing moments of the day. Esther (the youngest of Philip’s children)
is growing up, but her lullaby remembers days gone by and the fond memories
of childhood. Night is often a time when the guitar becomes more than an instrument,
coming alive like nature itself. As Barrios once wrote, the strings of the
guitar are Six Silver Moonbeams.
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Hasta Mañana (Spanish for “See you tomorrow”)
is a celebration of the dynamic, culturally rich Latin American genre.
It seeks to strike a tenuous balance between intellectually artistic music
and the authenticity and vivacity of popular music, which Latin American guitar
Price $25.00 (AU)