its service to the classical guitar repertoire with this,
their second collection of guitar music from Argentina (see
reviews of the first volume by Gary
guides us through the works of these mostly obscure, yet
mostly alive and active, composers. Two of the guitarist’s
own compositions are also included. Given the unfamiliarity
of some of these composers, it is unfortunate that Naxos’s
usually helpful liner notes provide no insight about them
works show considerable dance-inspired rhythmic vitality.
In Cielo Abierto (Open Sky)
this is expressed by more
intricate percussion than one might this possible from tapping
the guitar body. This is, however, combined effectively with
moments of intensely sweet lyricism.
was written in memory of the composer’s grandmother.
Thus, it is understandably slower-tempoed and contemplative.
Still, it is a waltz, and it dances.
Pujol is a name
fairly well-known to fans of the guitar and Latin American
music. Piazzolla is the “tango player” to whom the present
work is an elegy. Villadangos is this work’s dedicatee.
The notes claim that Pujol deploys serial technique in
to the most famous Argentine composer, but this use of
serial technique does not intrude into the consciousness
some Argentine flavor — literally. Sweet Maté
honor the herbal, tea-like drink that is a favored
pick-me-up. North American readers might find the first piece
evocative of a vanilla latte, and the second of a spiced
If the two brief
works here are indicative, Villadangos has considerable
skill as a composer as well as guitarist. His are the most “modern”,
tonally-edgy sounding works in this collection. He is obviously
interested in combining the joy of the dance with exploration
of new sounds.
is a short gato
(Spanish for “cat”),
a type of Argentine dance. Felipe is a tomcat; we get
a brief musical window into his amorous adventures.
provides a musical tour of the
folk-spiritual life of the land: goddesses, forest devils,
a child’s wake. The topics, as indicated by the composer’s
titles and explained in the liner notes, remind us of native
religious beliefs that remain even when the conquerors’ religion
has come to be accepted. I’m not convinced that the music
evokes all of these images, but it does display an interesting
and compelling variety of mood.
Santillán’s study Badly
is marked by rhythmic chord-strumming, unique on
this disc. Perhaps that makes it the most folk-sounding
of the many folk-inspired works here.
The most substantial
work here is that of the second moderately familiar composer.
sonata was premiered by Villadangos.
It is the most traditionally classical in form, demonstrating
a more thorough domestication of the folk idioms, a form
of appropriation undertaken by classical composers at least
since Bach. The opening out into the time-span of traditional
sonata form marks a significant mood change from the prior
works, and in doing so demonstrates the compositional range
that Argentinean classical music encompasses.
For fans of Latin
American classical guitar music this release will be self-recommending.
We have for the most part little-known repertoire that
is, nevertheless, very-good to excellent. I haven’t said much
yet about Villadangos’s playing, because he achieves the
elusive goal of nearly transparently conveying the music
directly to the listener. He sounds like he was born to
play this music, both in terms of traditional classical
and also in the unique rhythmic and percussive character
of many of these pieces.
The only problem
that mars this release is the previously-mentioned lack of
information about the composers. There are brief descriptions
of each of the works, but notes could have been far more