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Augustín BARRIOS (1885 - 1944]
Guitar Music: Volume 2

Invocación a Mi Madre (1929) [4.29]
La Catedral (1921) [7.14]
Confesión (1923) [4.35]
Canción de la Hilandera (1933) [2.55]
Oración (plegaria) [3.50]
Madrecita (c.1925) [2.06]
La Samaritana (1922) [5.00]
El Sueño de la Muñequita (c. 1925) [2.42]
Contemplación (1922) [4.29]
Oración Para Todos (3.02]
Minuet in B (1928) [3.20]
Minuet in E (c.1942) [2.55]
Minuet in A (1924) [2.05]
Minuet in C (c.1942) [1.24]
Divagación en imitación al violín (1914) [3.26]
Variations on a Theme of Tárrega (1939) [12.26]
Enno Voorhorst, guitar
Notes in English, German, and French.
Recorded St. John’s Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, 27 February 2001
NAXOS 8.555718 [66.57]


Many consider Barrios to be the greatest guitar composer ever. Unfortunately he wrote down little of his music. Many important scores have had to be reconstructed from recordings, which accounts for the delay in his music coming to appreciation and currency. His music is distinguished by a Mozartean ingenuity at variations, his almost Bachian ability at the arpeggio prelude style, his rich melodic sense and adventurous harmonic sense. There are occasional clear echoes of Villa-Lobos, not surprising since Villa-Lobos was one of the great original stylists in Latin American guitar music; any guitarist of this period would expect to learn a great deal from him. However this is all highly original music.

Barrios’s harmonies are all "white" with none of the African influence we expect to hear in Spanish and Latin American guitar music. This gives his music the sound of classical period keyboard music. Yet, almost all of this music is Romantic in feeling and introspective in mood. The titles of these pieces - Prayer to My Mother, Sleep of the Little Doll - may lead you to expect this music to be heavily sentimentalised, but that is not the case. Even Invocación a Mi Madre is thoughtfully lyrical without being maudlin. The first number from La Catedral (as well as several of the other pieces) resembles the "raindrop" etude of Chopin in both mood and texture, while the last number is a dazzling virtuoso work in style halfway between a Bach lute prelude and Albéniz’ Leyenda. Confesión is a clear, tuneful work.

The guitarist skilfully encompasses these changes in style and the wide variety of techniques and shows a deeply personal sense of commitment.

Paul Shoemaker

see also review by Kevin Sutton

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