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Agustín BARRIOS (1885–1944)
Guitar Music – Volume 3
Caazapá – Aire popular Paraguayo (arr. McFadden) [3:15]
Don Pérez Freire (tango) [3:13]
Medallon Antiguo [2:59]
Vals Tropical [2:46]
Arabescos (Estudio No. 4) [1:25]
Escala y Preludio [1:43]
Estudio Vals [1:34]
Estudio in A [2:00]
Estudio inconcluso [0:57]
País de Abanico [4:26]
Fabiniana [2:27]
Tango No. 2 [3:21]
Tua imagem – Vals [3:35]
Leyenda de España [4:09]
Capricho Español [2:54]
Alegro Sinfonico [2:37]
Luz Mala [1:34]
Minuet en la [2:50]
Estilo Uruguayo [2:57]
Danza Guaraní [1:34]
Tarantella (arr. McFadden) [3:35]
Jeffrey McFadden (guitar)
rec. 2-5 February 2006, St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
NAXOS 8.557807 [55:54]

As a concert guitarist Barrios promoted himself as “The Paganini of the guitar from the jungles of Paraguay”. This was also the time when he added the Guaraní name ‘Mangoré’ and performed the first half of his concerts wearing Indian head-dress. His main musical influence was the traditional music of Paraguay and other Latin-American countries, where the rhythmic elements were to the fore. He became very popular and toured widely, also to Europe where his success was more limited. After his death he was more or less forgotten until the 1970s when his music suddenly became fashionable. He was obviously a great improviser and never performed his compositions the same way twice. Much of it wasn’t even set down on paper but from quite early on he made recordings starting in 1913. Through these it has been possible to learn more about his style of playing and even transcribing music. I suppose that the first and last pieces (tr. 1 and 21) are results of this; the liner-notes don’t tell us.
Besides rhythmic interest he had rare melodic gifts and whether they are his own creations or adaptations of folk melody there is a lot here to engage the ear. There are also a number of ‘Estudios’ that have less to offer musically. They do however serve to show Jeffrey McFadden’s finger-work which of course is beyond reproach. What some may find a nuisance is the amount of noise from the finger-board. It is difficult to avoid; one hears it to a greater or lesser extent on most guitar recordings.
Perhaps this isn’t the essential Barrios, for that one should turn to volume 1 (see review; see also Volume 2), but there is a lot here to enjoy; a lot to admire. The first three tracks are all gems: the extremely beautiful Paraguayan folk song, the rhythmical tango and the soft and beautiful Medallon Antiguo, played con amore. The tango, by the way, was named after Osmán Pérez Freire, a Chilean composer of popular music, and the Medallon Antiguo (Old medallion) refers to a piece of jewellery worn by an opera singer from Buenos Aires, with whom Barrios fell in love. The first three notes of the theme are from a song by Pergolesi that she used to sing. Of the remaining pieces País de Abanico in ¾ time has some interesting harmonic turns and Fabiniana sounds like an improvisation. It is a homage to Barrios’s concert partner, the famous violinist Eduardo Fabini. There is true Spanish flavour in Leyenda de España and Capricho Español and the concluding Tarantella is virtuosic.
Some years ago I was deeply impressed by Jeffrey McFadden’s debut disc with music by Napoléon Coste. His playing here is just as deeply assured and well considered. Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver in their favourite venue in Newmarket have produced another winner, bar the aforementioned noises from the finger-board, which they can’t do much about.
Göran Forsling


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