Legitimisation of the
classical guitar as a concert instrument
is only a relatively recent occurrence.
During the 1960s few classical guitarists,
especially in comparison with players
of other stringed instruments, were
capable of performing to concert standards
typified by Andrès Segovia.
Ranking well in this
elite hierarchy was Brazilian player
Jorge Morel who ventured into a different
and very dynamic genre that embraced
the music and style of his native country.
His recording ‘The Artistry of Jorge
Morel’ (RCA LSP-3953) released in 1968,
was unique for several reasons. This
once-heard-never-forgotten LP was soon
deleted from commercial availability
and became a rarity in second-hand shops.
Currently AM Publishing (UK) promotes
a number of recordings by Morel, which
represent much of his repertory.
guitarists Vincea McClelland and Raymond
Cousté, appeared several years
ago and contains two outstanding tracks
(b.1) (23) from Morel’s 1968 recording.
These items have rarely, if at all,
been recorded by other guitarists, and
it is gratifying to see them again receive
richly deserved attention
Jorge Morel is a guitarist-composer
whose superior arrangements go beyond
that status and almost become new compositions
in their own right. America from
West Side Story is one of a medley
of three that he recorded; the others
are Maria and I Feel Pretty.
Morel originally heard Misionera
by Fernando Bustamante performed
on harp and piano with guitar accompaniment.
He enthusiastically arranged the work
into a fabulous guitar solo.
the Morel versions and those by Vincea
McClelland are very interesting and
revealing especially given that they
are separated by almost four decades.
No one plays the Venezuelan
waltzes of Antonio Lauro like fellow-countryman
Alirio Diaz (Guitar Music of Spain
and Latin America, EMI HQS 1175).
While Graham Anthony Devine’s rendition
of Sete Cordas is laudable (Guitar
Music from Brazil, Naxos 8.557295)
the same music played by its composer
Raphael Rabello (Cry, My Guitar,
GPS 1010CD) demonstrates intrinsic dimensions
that only he can extract.
In similar vein Morel’s
arrangement of America from West
Side Story (b.1) and Misionera
by Bustamante (23) as played by
McClelland are devoid of the vitality
and virtuosity with which Jorge Morel
manages to endow them in his 1968 recording.
This is an observation not a criticism.
In playing this type of music Morel
is an impossible act to follow and the
renditions by McClelland are in any
event very well performed.
Latin-American music for guitar or music
that has been arranged for guitar. Of
the 28 tracks, 17 are for solo guitar,
10 for duo; in one the music is played
solo as originally written and then
embellished with a second guitar part.
The Suite Latina
by Venezuelan Alfonso Montes, was
written over the period 1987-91. Milonga
al sur (2) is dedicated to Astor
Piazzolla. A common title given to South
American compositions for guitar, Milonga
is the name of a late 19th century
dance from Buenos Aires, a forerunner
of the Tango.
The eleven studies
for guitar (8-18) were composed by Cuban
guitarist, composer, percussionist and
conductor Leo Brouwer. His works for
guitar are performed more than any other
Perhaps most famous
of all Latin American composers for
the guitar is Agustin Barrios Mangoré
whose magnificent legacy includes more
than three hundred solos. The guitar’s
matchless evocative powers are no better
exemplified than in the luminous and
ethereal Cancion de la Hilandera
Jorge Cardoso, a native
of Argentina, is a qualified medical
doctor. An accomplished composer he
has more than three hundred compositions
to his credit. Should any of these attain
immortality in the world of the classical
guitar it will certainly be his Milonga
from a collection entitled 24 Piezas
Born in 1951 guitarist-composer
Paulo Bellinati is from São Paulo.
His neo-classical style of composition
has been suggested as reflecting the
more cosmopolitan character of his southern
birthplace in contrast to the more exotic
of flavour Rio de Janeiro and the northeast-region
of Brazil. Contatos (24) is a
Portuguese word meaning ‘Contact’.
Now based in Paris,
Vincea McClelland was born in Montreal
and obtained her Bachelor of Music in
Performance from the University of Toronto
where she studied with Eli Kassner.
She has also studied with Oscar Ghilia
and Alexander Lagoya. Her solo CD ‘Guitar
Originals" was described by the
French magazine Les Cahiers de la
Guitare as ‘the CD of a great lady
of the guitar’.
French guitarist and
lutenist Raymond Cousté has a
vast performance experience having appeared
in over one hundred countries worldwide
as a soloist and member of various ensembles.
After studying guitar with Ramon Cueto
he later obtained a degree in solid-state
physics. He continued musical studies
with Alexander Lagoya receiving his
Premier Prix (Diploma with honours)
in 1972. He is married to Vincea McClelland.
arrangements for two guitars often have
their genesis in the inability of music
to be performed on one instrument. This
part of the repertory probably exceeds
that originally written for two guitars.
Music written for solo guitar may also
be arranged to accommodate a second
guitar; it is to be hoped with a result
superior to the original.
A review programme
highlight is the beautiful Milonga
by Jorge Cardoso (28). The solo
portion of this rendition by McClelland
is most enjoyable and transcends a previously
favoured version by Göran Söllscher
(DG 459 138-2). But the spell begins
to dissipate when the second guitar
part, by the composer is added. Originally
written for solo guitar this is good
example of ‘more is less’. Cousté’s
contribution is sound but an unnecessary
addition to a composition that needed
no improvement. One could argue that
the history of transcriptions and arrangements
for guitar abounds in such initiatives,
albeit not usually related to original
compositions for the instrument.
The eleven studies
for guitar by Brouwer are very well
played but their essentially didactic
nature may challenge some listeners
less dedicated to the instrument.
Tango en Skai by
French guitarist-composer Roland Dyens
is one of his most recorded works. It
is a caricature of the Argentine tango,
and skai in French means imitation
leather. Comparatively the rendition
by McClelland has some interesting phrasing;
some may suggest that the version by
Elena Papandreou, to whom it was dedicated,
(Naxos 8.554001 and BIS CD 1366) is
closer to that intended.
an enjoyable recording with a generally
well-crafted programme. Capably embracing
the challenges of Latin American music
for the guitar it reintroduces listeners
to some long-neglected treasures of
the guitar repertory. Vincea McClelland
is an adept guitarist and produces a
beguiling sound on her fine Alejandro
(Málaga 1991) guitar. While a
skilled duo player, there is less virtuosic
opportunity for Raymond Cousté
to display the credentials for which
he is renowned. Whether some of the
items for duo guitar strengthen or weaken
the programme is a matter of opinion
but this writer would prefer just the
complete McClelland solo version of
The accompanying booklet
in English and French is informative,
contains numerous colour photographs,
and represents a production standard
which equivalent publications rarely
This recording has
been around for several years but those
who may have missed it can confidently
add it to their priority wish-list.
For a treat scour all possible resources
for an original recording by Morel.
Morel’s arrangements are notable for
their consummate artistry and incomparable