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AGUSTIN BARRIOS (1885-1944)

Vals no. 3 Preludio en do menor (in C minor / c-moll / en ut mineur) Cueca Maxixa La catedral Julia Florida (barcarola) Vals no. 4 Una limosna por el amor de Dios A Mazurka appassionata Las abejas Medallon antiguo Choro de saudade Aire de zamba IM Aconquija Preludio en sol menor (in G minor/ g-moll / en sol mineur) 113 Sueiio en la floresta Villancico de navidad

Time:

4'12 2'13 3'29 2'42 6'57 4'29 4'20 3'27 5'08 2'18 3'21 4'49 2'46 4'16 2'49 6'42 3'17

Total time: 67'24

This recording was made using 20-bit technology for "high definition sound". Producer: John Williams. Co-producer / Engineer: Mike Stavrou. Recorded June 20-28, 1994 at the Air Studios, London, England. All works are in public domain and edited by John Williams. Booklet Editor: David Montgomery.

THE GREAT PARAGUAYAN: "BROTHER TO THE TROUBADOURS"


mask the secrets of the box. And the miracle occurred: from the depths of the mysterious box there emerged a marvellous symphony of all the virgin voices of our America. Mangore This was a time when he was proudly proclaiming his part Guarani Indian ancestry, promoting himself as the "Paganini of the guitar from the jungles of Paraguay" and appearing in full Indian dress; he also adopted the name "Mangore" - a legendary Guarani chief. Except for one visit to Europe in 1935, when he played in Germany and Spain, he lived all his life in Latin America, the early years mostly in Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, and later in Venezuala and Central America. He once wrote in a poem to a friend: "I am a brother to those medieval troubadours who, in their glories and despairs, suffered such romantic madness." From 1913 on Barrios made many recordings, which are important sources for many of his pieces which were lost or not in his manuscript - those that were are beautifully written out, as he was a fine graphic artist. His concert programmes combined transcriptions of classical composers such as Bach and Chopin, guitar composers such as Tarrega, and his own music, which was inspired by classical and popular music but which, more importantly, took the guitar into a new world of 3

Tupa, the Supreme Spirit and protector of my race, found me one day in the middle of a verdant copse wrapt in admiration whilst contemplating nature. And said to me: `Take this mystery box and unmask its secrets.' And locking up in it all the singing birds and the resting souls of the plants, left it in my hands. Obeying the orders of Tupa I took the box and, placing it close to my chest, I embraced it and spent many moons at the side of a spring. And one night Jacy, our Moon Mother, painted in liquid crystal, feeling the sadness of my Indian soul, gave me six silver rays of light so that with them I could un-

gustfn Pio Barrios was born in 1885 in San Juan Bautista de los Misiones, Paraguay. He began the guitar as a child, playing traditional and popular music with his parents and many brothers; they were an educated and cultured family. In his teens he was sent to high school in Asunci6n, where he continued to study classical technique with an important guitar teacher and then theory and other musical subjects. By now, Barrios was also composing: this was to be his life and he remained dedicated to his instrument as composer and performer until his death in El Salvador in 1944. He was also a poet and later, in 1930, he wrote his "Profesi6n de fe" (Profession of Faith):

musical expression. Making a living was a constant struggle... sometimes he relied on the help of loyal friends and often he had enormous success, as in Venezuela in 1932 when he played twenty-five concerts in two months. The British conductor Sir Henry Wood - founder of the BBC's Henry Wood Promenade concerts - heard Barrios in Trinidad in 1932 and wrote: "I have had the great pleasure of hearing Senor Agustin Barrios give a private recital this afternoon ... (He) is quite a unique artist ... his colourful playing, rhythm, perfect intonation and splendid interpretative ability, make his playing a real pleasure and delight to all music lovers" (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, 18 January 1932). Barrios's last years were spent in El Salvador, where he taught at the National Conservatory. He was in poor health but still composing and playi ng, with plans to make more records and travel to North America ("Una limosna por e1 amor de Dios" -An Offering for the Love of God- was his final piece, sometimes called "La ultima cancion" -The Last Song). As a player Barrios had an amazing technique and a natural, emotional style which was in total contrast to the sophisticated affectation of so much European interpretation. The Cuban composer and guitarist Leo Brouwer says: "Just as Bach continued to write superb baroque music up to the year of his death (1750)... Barrios was writing exquisite romantic music long after its passing in Europe. Also in Barrios there occurs a certain kind of innovation in the 19th century harmonic language which can only be done from a

point later in time -'out of the period'." The special magic of Barrios is that this romantic musicality is expressed by a far more imaginative and developed guitar technique than anything that had gone before-in this he was a great original, a kind of Chopin of the guitar. A few examples are specially noticeable in the weaving of melody and harmony across the strings ("Mazurka appassionata"), the inventive use of the open strings (middle section of "Vals no. 4"), the unusual chord progressions he finds with the bass strings tuned down ("Choro de saudade"), the shifting harmonies and contrasting melodic lines in the "Tremolo" pieces ("Una Limosna por el amor de Dios") and even the simple combining of the "drumming" sound with chord changes ("Cueca" and "Aconquija"). There was for a long time in Latin America a cultural deference to the Old World, the result of centuries of colonization which was also reflected in Europe's condescending attitude to Latin American culture, especially popular culture; Barrios was underestimated in his lifetime for both these reasons and outside Latin America he was practically unknown. However, the second half of the 20th century has revealed the narrowness of the Eurocentric view and has led to a renaissance of indigenous and New World culture. Barrios plays his part in this by speaking through his music, not only to guitarists, but by touching the hearts of people everywhere who love music. 1995 John Williams