Guitar Music Vol. 1
Guitar - Antigoni Goni
U sueño en la floresta
Vals, Op.8, No.4
Madrigal - Gavota
Vidalita con Variaciones
Junto a tu corazón - Vals
Tu y Yo (Gavota romántica)
Villancido de Navidad
Aire de Zamba
The Paraguayan, Agustín Píu Barrios Mangoré (1885-1944)
was arguably one of the most colourful guitarist/composers to emerge from
South America. The complexity of his music, not only in its harmonic structure
but also in its technical difficulties belies his Guarani Indian origins.
A guitar virtuoso, he toured extensively across South America, briefly visiting
Europe and was probably the first classical guitarist to make gramophone
records (circa 1914). Not only did he play his own compositions in
concerts but also those of the guitar repertoire of the 19th century,
plus transcriptions of music including Beethoven and Chopin. It was these
diverse musical influences together with the Indian folk traditions of his
background which enabled him to develop his own musical style.
For the most part guitarists rarely played Barrios's music after his death
(Aliro Diaz occasionally performed a small selection). It was not until John
Williams championed his music in the mid seventies that Agustín Barrios
finally gained the recognition that he deserved, but even then it was usually
only a small number of works that seemed to reoccur in concerts and recordings.
I suspect that this disc, in keeping with Naxos's policies, is going to be
the first volume in a Complete Works series. Although another set is available
by the guitarist Philippe Lemaigre, Naxos should be ahead of most competition
with their super budget price and the stable of outstanding young guitarists
at their disposal.
On this current disc the programme is a good mix of well-known works along
with less familiar pieces. The guitarist Antigoni Goni's formidable skills
are put to excellent use. Her knowledge of the various ingredients of musical
traditions, styles and forms that Barrios used to such good effect is well
established in her playing, the juxtaposition of voicing within the harmony
that is so important in conveying the unique flavour of Barrios's music is
assured, as is her use of tonal colouring and dynamics. An intelligent choice
of speeds gives a sense of space that allows the music to breath without
inhibiting the rhythmic pulses. The technical hurdles for the guitarist playing
this music are notorious (even John Williams, the master virtuoso, commented
on them) but Goni's performances, particularly "U sueño en la floresta",
which relies heavily on the even execution of right hand tremolo combined
with extreme left hand difficulties, are dispatched with apparent ease. I
do feel however, that her tambora effect used in "Cueca" (the tapping of
the strings at the bridge using the outside of the right hand thumb whilst
fingering a melody with the left hand) is a little booming and more clarity
could have been achieved to bring out the melody line (John Williams 1995
recording of "Aconquija" is a good example) but this is a minor point.
Of the recording itself the sound is excellent, the regular location of St
Chrysostom Church, Newmarket Canada and producer Bonnie Silver proving to
be an ideal combination for recording the guitar.
The most informative detailed inlay notes are by Rico Stover* who is probably
the foremost authority on Agustín Barrios.
Silver Moonbeams - The life and times of Agustín
Barrios Mangoré By Rico Stover Guitar solo publications / San