- Danzón No. 1 – Valle de Bravo Julio César Oliva (Mexico, 1947-)
Julio César Oliva was born in Mexico City in 1947. He has become one of Mexico’s most prolific and respected composers for the guitar. In 2012 Morgan Szymanski recorded and toured his Sketches of Mexico, which Gramophone Magazine described as: “ a gorgeous and original tribute to Szymanski’s homeland, its artists and its music.’
Since then Oliva has dedicated several works for Morgan. This Danzón is the first of a set of four, named after the village where Morgan grew up and now lives, Valle de Bravo, in the State of Mexico.
- Scherzino Mexicano and 3. Estrellita Manuel M. Ponce (Mexico, 1882-1948)
Manuel M. Ponce collected folk melodies from across Mexico, much like Bartok did in Hungary and Romania. Inspired by nationalist movements in the arts around the world (and composers like De Falla in Spain and Villa-Lobos in Brazil) Ponce used elements of Mexican folklore in his works. He became a close friend of the Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia and wrote many works for him, including his Concierto del Sur, for guitar and orchestra. His Scherzino Mexicano was originally written for piano and Estrellita was made famous thanks to the great violinist Jascha Heifetz, whose arrangement Morgan used as inspiration.
3. Canción de Cuna Leo Brouwer (Cuba, 1939-)
Leo Brouwer has become one of Cuba´s principal ambassadors of its music and culture. He wrote music for many films, including Like Water for Chocolate based on the famous book about Mexican cuisine by Laura Esquivel. He was a virtuoso guitarist but suffered an injury and abandoned his career as a soloist to focus con his compositions. He has written many works for guitar and was at the forefront of the cuban minimalist movement. His arrangement of this Cuban Lullaby (Drume Negrita) has become a favorite among guitar lovers world-wide.
4. Four Venezuelan Waltzes Antonio Lauro (Venezuela, 1917 – 1986)
I. El Negrito
II. La Gatica
III. El Marabino
IV. El Totumo de Guarenas
Antonio Lauro became one of Venezuela’s most famous composers. He arranged many popular dances and famous melodies and was very much inspired by the ´arpa llanera´ – traditional harp playing in Venezuela – as well as the rhythms and percussive effects of the ´cuatro´: a four stringed instrument similar to the ukulele. Tonight we hear four of his most famous waltzes.
5. Danza del Altiplano Leo Brouwer (Cuba, 1939-)
Brouwer did not solely use Cuban folk music as inspiration for his compositions and arrangements. He also wrote a series of works inspired my Latin American musical genres like the tango and in this particular work, the folk music of the Andes, Bolivia and northern Chile. The theme is taken from a famous song called Viva Jujuy, a song about a town in North Eastern Argentina which is often heard on the Bolivian pan pipes.
6. Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios Agustín Barrios Mangoré (Paraguay, 1885-1944)
The legacy of Agustín Barrios Mangoré is probably one of the most significant in the history of the guitar in Latin America. He struggled to survive as a performer and composer and travelled the continent widely. He wrote over 300 works for guitar and played his concerts using steel strings and dressed in full indian traditional costume, calling himself Nistuga (Agustin spelt backwards): the Paganini of the jungles of Paraguay. This was the last piece he ever wrote and is also known as ´La Última Canción´, the last song. Towards the end of his career, his achievements were recognized by the people of Paraguay and he became a national hero, appearing on a Paraguayan bank note.
7. Preludio No. 1 Heitor Villa-Lobos (Brazil 1887-1959)
Of all the Latin American composers, the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos is probably the most well known. His music has become famous world wide and was even played at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. Arthur Rubenstein recorded and performed many of his piano works, as did Segovia with his guitar music. He was a grand character, often smoking cigars, and played the piano, cello and guitar. His music not only uses popular Brazilian rhythms and dances, but also refers to the Yanomami and Amazonian indigenous musical traditions.
8. Milonga Jorge Cardoso (Argentina, 1949-)
Jorge Cardoso was born in Posadas, Argentina and is an established composer and performer. The Milonga is a slow tango, often nostalgic and in a minor key. This particular piece is dedicated to those who died in a massacre in a football stadium in Santiago de Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship.
9. La Muerte del Ángel Astor Piazzolla (Argentina, 1921-1992)
Astor Piazzolla changed the history of tango forever. He studied composition in Paris under Nadia Boulanger who advised him to incorporate the tango into his compositions. Piazzolla toured the world widely with his tango quintet and wrote the music for many films. His Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Libertango are probably his most well known works.
You can download the programme notes HERE