The works considered for this album are part of current Latin American music for the classical guitar. Composers representing different countries have been chosen, and their works and forms of expression have been installed on a symbolic Latin American wall. Through this, we can see how their compositions are representative of the essence of their music, and serve as a portrayal of the places, activities, stories and territories of Latin America José Luis Merlin is a famous Argentine composer.
His works have been performed by different musicians from all over the world, and his best known work, the “Suite del Recuerdo”, dedicated to Atahualpa Yupanqui, is one of the most recorded in the history of guitar music. In it, Merlin aspires to show the world Latin American culture, an objective that he also seeks with the piece on this álbum, “Bailongo Campero”, whose subtitle is “a wedding in the country”.
It begins with a Chamarrita milonga dance, then a Waltz with rubato that reminds us of a wedding, and ends with a “Joropo”, which represents the music of Venezuela. Dance as the central axis of this sound story. Composer José Luis Merlin, who has dedicated this piece of music to guitarist Alexis Vallejos, tells us that in it he seeks to reflect a festive atmosphere of celebration. He also points out that the custom of organizing “guitarreadas” still persists in the Argentine provinces, parties where people sing and dance for a whole day, sometimes lasting until dawn the next day. Different typical foods accompany this celebration along with wine and drinks, and songs accompanied by the guitar are shared. The work, Merlin tells us, contains festive music and music of love and hope.
Fernando Arduz is a great Bolivian guitarist and composer. He has dedicated himself to rescuing the music of his country, through the research and edition of organology books, the arrangements and compilation of traditional works, and he has especially investigated the work of the renowned Bolivian folk guitarist Alfredo Domínguez, who was an exceptional musician of Latin American music. Arduz began his training in Bolivia, later perfecting himself at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid. Composer of numerous works that have been performed in different countries, this album has included one that is dedicated to the interpreter Alexis Vallejos. “La Gracia de Dios”, inspired by the figure of God, begins as a very classic work both in the form and in the protagonism of the tonality. Then it takes us to a tremolos part that reminds us of the sound of the charango (an Andean instrument), and further on there is a central part where rhythms typical of the “Chapaca” area, of the central valley of “Tarija” (a region of Bolivia) are heard. In general, throughout the piece classical music is mixed with elements of traditional Andean or Bolivian music.
Carlos Ledermann is a flamenco guitarist, composer and teacher. Considered as the main reference in this form of musical expression in Chile, he is also widely recognized outside its country. Author and producer of several albums, editor of a book on flamenco guitar, he is also a teacher of important guitarists who have excelled in South America and Europe. He was the first composer outside of Spain to perform a concert for flamenco guitar and orchestra, the “Concierto Crepuscular”, a work that was premiered by the orchestra of the Modern School in Santiago de Chile.
He has also written works for classical guitar, some of them dedicated to Alexis Vallejos, such as “Lucila”. Inspired by the figure of the famous Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, whose real name was “Lucila”, this work was premiered at the GAM Cultural Center in 2015 in a commemorative concert for the 70th anniversary of the Nobel Prize she received.
According to the composer’s own account, “Lucila” came up as an idea during a visit to the small town of Vicuña (the writer’s place of origin). However, this work, considered by Ledermann as a brief homage, would not take shape until a few years later. Based on the many verses that Mistral dedicated to children, the work is composed on the basis of rhythmic and melodic ideas of a children’s roundabout, and whose ending suggests the music of a carousel.
Gerardo Caviedes is a young Chilean composer. The work “El llamado de Mistral” is dedicated to the great poet Gabriela Mistral and is inspired by the text “El Grito”. In this text, the writer promotes the integration of Latin America and calls for the region to observe and project itself through the development of the arts, industry, pedagogy or communications, pointing out at the same time the strong contrast in economic, social and political terms between this America of Hispanic and indigenous traditions with North America. For Mistral, Hispanic America would be unified by two elements: “the language that God gave him and the pain that the north gives him.” The call of Mistral contains many elements of folklore, mixing the traditional music of Chile (such as the rhythms of the cueca) with the learned music, including some features that evoke in part the music of the Mapuche (native people of Chile).
Leo Brouwer is a Cuban composer recognized worldwide for his works. He is considered one of the most relevant composers of Latin American. “Variaciones sobre un tema de Víctor Jara” is based on the song “Lo unico que Tengo” by the Chilean composer Víctor Jara. This song is originally part of the album “La poblacion” (1972), and is performed by Isabel Parra (daughter of Violeta Parra). This album is emblematic among other reasons because it was conceived after an investigation developed in some of the most vulnerable populations of Santiago, the capital of Chile. At one point the lyrics of the song say “and my hands are the only thing I have, and it is my love and my livelihood”, a very significant phrase that in the musical field we can relate to the hands used to play the guitar, the instrument that Víctor Jara himself also used in his songs.
Brouwer has indicated that one of the inspirations for this work was the close relationship that Víctor Jara had with Cuba and his terrible death at the hands of the Chilean dictatorship in the 1970s. In the musical, the composer points out that he wanted to keep intact the melodic line and some modal features widely used by the Chilean artist. Within the variations, reminiscences of other works by Brouwer himself emerge, as well as brief glimpses of other songs by Jara. The first of the seven variations is more classical than the one following, which is darker and reminds us of the work “Canticum” (Eclosión and Ditirambo) by the same Cuban author, at times with a cueca (traditional Chilean dance) air. Then comes a more rhythmic variation that starts at 5/8 and where you feel more vertigo on the guitar, which then moves on to another of a more minimalist character. The seventh variation is also more rhythmic and in the finale there is a passage with “tapping”, and strumming that reminds us of Cuban and Chilean music.
Javier Farías is a Chilean composer who is distinguished by the recognition he has obtained in Europe in the Andrés Segovia (2005) and Michele Pittaluga (2004) composition competitions, currently living in the United States where he has developed his career. His compositions have been highlighted by important publications in the guitar field, such as Classical Guitar Magazine, or in the press such as The Washington Post. Great current guitarists both from the world of classical guitar and popular guitar, have interpreted and recorded him in their music, which has been the protagonist in concert halls of great relevance worldwide. Likewise, orchestras such as the Torino Philharmonic, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra as well as many other instrumental groups and performers from all over the world have requested his works. The two pieces of music that are part of this album, “Lejana” and “De todas maneras”, are works that dialogue with Latin American folklore. “Lejana” is a work that has an air of “huayno” (dance of indigenous origin from the South American highlands), and is related to darkness, to the remoteness of being in a desert. “De todas maneras” is a work that is dedicated to his son, it is a cueca – tonada (musical forms characteristic of Chilean folklore) that has a funny and childlike character, maintaining the passion of Chilean folk music.
Claudia Montero, is an outstanding Argentine composer, has achieved important awards in the international music industry, among which she has been the recipient of four Latin Grammy Awards. One of them was received for an album that included her Concerto “Luces y Sombras” for guitar and orchestra. For this record, “Tres colores porteños” has been selected since it is very representative of her work, being also the first Suite for guitar composed by her, even before the concerto. Through these three colors, Montero portrays elements that are part of various images of the city of Buenos Aires. We could say that the blue color personifies the sky, the calm and the Río de la Plata. The gray would symbolize a part of the city with its many buildings and old constructions. Reds are the showy colors that embrace the bohemian and the Buenos Aires passion. In relation to this work, the composer has given us the following words: “Blue is the product of the inspiration that the clean sky gave me. I looked up and it was clear to me that the first number would be blue, with an air of tango, milonga and magical moments with harmonics. Gray is the central movement, full of melancholy. The gray of Buenos Aires is full of inspiration and is a state that I always evoke in my works. Red, it is a rondo and its color represents passion. A unique gesture that develops the different sections in which the subject is seen through different shades, a red that overflows and other times a red that hurts. Like a wound, like a passion that does not stop.”
Album Notes by Alexis Vallejos and Edgardo Fernández
Alexis Vallejos: Classical guitarist Alexis Vallejos is one of the most important Chilean musicians of his generation. Winner of the 19th Andrés Segovia International Classical Guitar Competition (Linares, Spain), he has made successful concert tours in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Alexis Vallejos began his musical studies at the age of 18 with maestro Romilio Orellana in the Department of Music and Sonology at the University of Chile Faculty of Arts. He then earned a Master’s degree in Classical Guitar from the University of Alicante in Spain, where he studied with some of the most important guitar and lute teachers: Hopkinson Smith, Manuel Barrueco, David Russell, Ignacio Rodes, Carles Trepat, Roberto Aussel, José de Eusebio and Nigel North. He has won major awards in national and international contests. Besides being unanimously awarded First Prize at the 19th Andrés Segovia International Guitar Competition, he has also received awards in international competitions in various countries in Europe and the Americas. His search for new guitar music has led him to premiere a range of works, which he has recorded or presented in major festivals. Notable Latin American composers have dedicated their pieces to him, including: José Luis Merlin (“Bailongo Campero"), Carlos Ledermann ("Preludio divagante" and "Lucila"), Fernando Arduz ("La Gracia de Dios"), among others. He has performed with orchestras on several continents. Of particular note was his performance at the prestigious Oji Hall in Japan with the Tokyo Sinfonia as part of its 2017 international season. There he played a program with three concertos for guitar and orchestra, including the Asian premiere of the “Concierto Festivo” by renowned Puerto Rican composer Ernesto Cordero, a performance which earned him acclaim from both audience and critics. In 2016 he was appointed cultural ambassador of the Juan Noé Crevani Artistic High School (Arica, Chile), a position he has used to provide support for several cultural activities to benefit the city. This has given birth to the Arica International Classical Music Meeting, which from 2016 -2019 hosted guest musicians from Asia, Europe and Americas. Since 2015 he has been interested in supporting the development of the guitar, highlighted by his participation as Founder and Artistic Director of numerous annual or biannual initiatives, such as: Seminar and International Guitar Festival "Cuerda Pulsada", in different cities of Chile, International Festival "Agustín Barrios" in Japan, "Jornadas Internacionales de Guitarra de Cochabamba" in Bolivia, International Festival "¡El Bosque tiene Guitarras!" in Santiago de Chile, and others. Currently he works as Professor of the Classical Guitar and is Department Chair at the Universidad Mayor in Santiago de Chile. He is also in private study with selected students from Chile and Bolivia, who have been recognized in International Contests. In addition, he has a guitar studio in Chiba, Japan. He regularly gives concert tours, seminars and masterclasses in Japan, Russia, China, Korea, Germany, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Philippines, Chile, France, Bolivia and Peru. He has performed in important concert halls such as: Oji Hall, Sogetsu Hall, IBK Seoul Arts Center, Daejeong Arts Center, Busan Arts Center, Seogwipo Jeju arts Center, AIM Hall de Manila, Teatro Municipal de Santiago “Sala Claudio Arrau”, Teatro Acha, SALA GAM, Teatro de Arequipa, Nave Cultural, Teatro Paisielo de Lecce, Museum Andrés Segovia, Teathre Pushkin, Chateau du Barjac, and others.
He uses Royal Classics strings, and performs primarily with an Arcángel Fernández Guitar; he has also performed major concertos with Hongsik Uhm and Guillermo Aguer guitars.