This is an anthology compiled
from many Naxos guitar recordings of Latin-American guitar music
ranging from the most serious classical works, such as the Villa
Lobos Concerto to popular tunes, such as, again, the
Villa Lobos Suite Populaire, and the Ponce. As a rule
the editor has sensibly found music which ranges towards as
well as away from the typical hot latin rhythms you expect from
the genre and preferred unusual pieces, more thoughtful, more
structured, some more placid in mood, some more angular and
experimental. Hence this collection will balance most other
recordings of Latin-American guitar music you might have and
help round out your collection.
The Lauro Joropo
is high energy fun. Brouwer’s November Day is a lovely,
sad, thoughtful tune in an interesting arrangement. Pereira’s
Gathering in Planaltina is an angular depiction of a
happy crowd with abrupt changes in rhythm, texture, and dynamics.
Blazquez’s Kite Flying Dream is an intriguingly modern
tuneful piece built on a flying dance rhythm over a varied ostinato.
Simon’s Peanut Seller is a familiar tune freshly worked
out with virtuoso multiple voices into a real show-stopper.
Pujol’s Elegy on the Death of a Tango Player is a three
movement suite based on simple, arresting harmonies, with a
beautiful second movement in “raindrop prelude” style, and a
The Piazzolla pieces are
uniformly disappointing. They are aimed exactly at American
TV music pop aesthetic where just a touch of ethnic flavor must
be swept away by familiar generic ‘swing’ before anyone gets
frightened by the foreignness of it all or feels displaced by
the unfamiliarity. They are the only pieces on the disks which
pander to vulgar taste. At the other extreme are the Villa-Lobos
pieces which represent a truly original mind, so abhorrent of
cliché as to border on the astringent. Perhaps I should concede
that Villa-Lobos may have been moving comfortably within native
Brazilian styles but to others elsewhere it seems brilliantly
and uncompromisingly original, rather like Bartók’s view of
authentic Hungarian music. Villa-Lobos is an acquired taste
but, once acquired, becomes compulsive.