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Our friends from EliteGuitarist.com bring to you this performance and tutorial of Sergio Assad’s “Farewell”. The piece, played and taught here by Tavi Jinariu, is a deeply emotional one. Structured around repeating chord progressions and recurring motifs, “Farewell” provides ample opportunities for tonal and phrase explorations. Go to the next level in your musical interpretation as Tavi Jinariu explains his tonal, phrasing and fingering choices in this Elite Guitarist tutorial.
Our friends at Orfeo Magazine just released their latest issue titled “Italia Special”, and in it (you guessed it!), Orfeo takes us on its second trip to Italy. The first feature covers the Lodi family, with the restoration/construction specialist Gabriele Lodi at the helm explaining the sound he looks for in his instruments. Then, Enrico Bottelli tells of how he used to build steel-string acoustic guitars until he was inspired by Romanillos’ work to build classical instruments exclusively (and we must say, his designs from guitar to inlay details to sound are exquisite!). Paolo Coriani is another luthier who tells of his start building steel-string acoustic guitars (and hurdy gurdies: violin-like stringed instruments, which we advise you look up), but then Ramirez’s and Torres’ works convinced him to switch to making the classical guitars we all enjoy today.
This issue packs something extra special; aside from the lives and work of these familiar guitar-makers, we learn about the stringmaster Mimmo Peruffo, who is one of the rare makers of gut strings still left in the world – he explains why he continues to produce gut strings over nylon. We also get a glimpse of the Val di Fiemme forest – a fantastic source for tonewood, from which many Italian luthiers (including Stradivarius) have drawn material to construct the instruments we know and enjoy playing! Read the full Orfeo No. 13 – Italia Special issue here.
Granada-based luthier Oscar Muñoz recently completed the construction of a new guitar that he made just for us. We’re expecting it to arrive within the next three weeks, so until then, enjoy these photos he sent us below. Muñoz, who won second-prize at the 2017 Antonio Marin Montero Guitar Making Competition (revisit our coverage of that here), appointed this model with a cedar top and Madagascar rosewood back and sides. It features a quite striking rosette with black background that promotes the red-orange/beige colored stars in the foreground. Muñoz also chose premium Perona tuning machines that perfectly match and contribute to the overall aesthetic – but don’t fret, there won’t be any damage done to these features as the guitar will arrive safely in a Hiscox case.
Guitarist Tomasz Fechner and flutist Deanna Pyeon recently stopped by the showroom to treat us to an incredible performance of one of Ástor Piazzolla’s great masterpieces – the ‘Histoire du Tango’ (his only work for flute and guitar) which in four movements traces the historical development of the tango from its late ninenteenth-century origins in the bordellos of Argentina to its modern-day incarnation as a viable and fully accepted genre on the international concert scene.
In this series of vignettes, I will be presenting a panorama of artists whose names have for the most part been totally effaced by the passage of the years, but whose artistry has been fortunately preserved on shellac. I am borrowing the title of this survey from Robert Vidal’s pioneering collection of LPs, “Panorama de la Guitare”, released on Erato in beautiful gatefold editions between 1969 and 1978. Never unavailable on CD, it has happily been recently released in a box set, with wonderful performances by such artists as Turibio Santos, Oscar Caceres, Konrad Ragossnig, Barbara Polasek, Leo Brouwer, Betho Davezac, the duo Pomponio-Zarate, and, significantly, an artist who first recorded in the 78 era, Maria Luisa Anido.
A Panorama of the Guitar in the 78 Era
Julio Martinez Oyanguren
Oyanguren in 1918, at 17.
The first contemporary of Andrés Segovia I will highlight is JULIO MARTINEZ OYANGUREN, a Uruguayan virtuoso, who recorded far more than any other guitarist in the 78 era. He is the featured artist on volumes 1 and 8 of Segovia and His Contemporaries, and also appears in volume 11, “Guitarists of the Rio de la Plata”. In fact, I have many more of his recordings in my collection than we have released—three American Decca albums, and individual discs on the Uruguayan label Orfeo. Oyanguren (1901-1973), born in Durazno, Uruguay, studied with Alfredo Hargain, and first performed publically in 1913. When Barrios came to Durazno about that time, Julio was greatly encouraged by the Paraguayan master. They played duets together, and developed a deep friendship that blossomed in the 1920s when both lived in Montevideo. There is a story that Oyanguren had arranged for Barrios to record in New York, but that the Paraguayan master sadly passed away before he was able to make the journey. Had he done so, it is likely that his fame would have spread long before John Williams’ pivotal 1977 recording of Barrios’ compositions. In a concert in 1934 in Durazno, Oyanguren dedicated much of the program to the works of Barrios.
Then, as now, a career as a professional guitarist was fraught with uncertainty, and in 1919 the young Julio enrolled in the naval academy. He continued his musical endeavours, inspired by the blind Spanish guitarist Antonio Jiménez Manjón, who had moved to the Rio de la Plata, and some of whose works he performed. At this time, he was playing a José Ramírez guitar made in 1907 (which is very close in date of make to this 1910 example in GSI’s Museum Archive). He was further stimulated by the concerts of Miguel Llobet, who performed frequently. He graduated in 1924 as an officer and mechanical engineer. He moved to Rome where he continued to study and began composing. Declared “persona non grata” (unwelcome) by Mussolini on account of his liberal convictions, he returned to Uruguay in 1927. His concert career began to blossom in the following years, and he performed widely, including in Brazil.
Oyanguren in 1932
In 1935, he came to the United States with his wife and son. Situating himself and his family in a very dynamic New York, he realized that his South American fame had to be rekindled. His Town Hall debut in October of that year was a tremendous success. He was acclaimed as “the Paderewski of the guitar”, and the doors opened widely for the young artist. He performed with the New York Philharmonic in Lewisohn Stadium in front of an audience of over 18,000, as well as the General Electric Orchestra under Terig Tucci.
Oyanguren had his own weekly radio program on NBC for several years. His student Rolando Valdes Blain remembered turning pages for his teacher as he performed hundreds of works. In 1939, he became the first guitarist to perform at the White House when he performed for Franklin Roosevelt. He later recalled that Roosevelt especially liked the Pericón and Vidalita.
He recorded a wide range of repertoire with RCA, Columbia, and Decca—including, of course, the romantics, foremost among them Tárrega and Albéniz, but also the gamut of his work reached back to the renaissance and baroque—Milan, Narvaez, Sanz, Rameau, Campion, Cimarosa, and to the classical period—Aguado, Ferrandiere, and the first recorded performance of Sor’s “Grand Sonata” and Giuliani’s “Grande Overture”. He recorded contemporary works—Falla’s “Homage à Debussy”, Turina’s “Rafaga”, a Ponce “Cancion”, as well as transcriptions of Brahms, Wieniavski, Massenet, and Schubert. He introduced American audiences to folkloric works from South America, including “La Cumparsita”, “Choros 1” (Villa Lobos), and bambucos, joropos, estilos, Inca dances, gatos and other popular dances. He even waxed some of his own compositions. Oyanguren even provided the musical soundtrack for a film, Gypsy Melody.
Segovia, of course, had been performing in the United States since 1928, and later from 1943 onwards. Indeed, he made his home in New York for twenty years. Naturally, Oyanguren and Segovia were well aware of one another, and there seems to have been an element of competition, even rivalry, between them. A number of stories have circulated over the years, but in the absence of evidence, it is pointless to relate them here. One, relatively amusing, has it that the friendship of the two guitarists dissolved over a disagreement in the fingering of the “Courante” from the fifth Bach Cello Suite. In any case, the press often compared the two, adding fuel to the fire, and Segovia and Oyanguren were often cited, one as the great Spanish guitarist the other as his Latin-American counterpart.
In 1941, Oyanguren decided to return to Uruguay with his wife and three children. Various theories have been suggested to explain this move, but it could have been as simple as a nostalgic longing for his homeland. He came back to Durazno, where he lived for 15 years. He continued to perform widely—on his return he played in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Odeón to rapturous reviews. He toured throughout Uruguay, performed a series of recitals on radio, displaying a repertoire in equal parts classical and folkloric. From 1943 to 1947, he served as the chief of police in Durazno, an unlikely career move for a renowned musician. He subsequently returned to the concert stage. Distinguished composers dedicated works to him: the Brazilian Lorenzo Fernández wrote a “Suite Brasileña” and the Venezuelan Bautista Plaza a “Sonata Antigua”. In 1950, he undertook an extensive tour throughout much of South America.
The year 1956 saw Oyanguren move to Montevideo, where he remained the rest of his life. He continued to perform, compose, and record. Lauro Ayesteran, the eminent Uruguayan musicologist, wrote of Oyanguren that “his name has become part of the history of the guitar, and his prestige, passing beyond critical clamor, has marked him as a guitarist of the highest order.”
We’ve seen many great guitars faithfully modeled after Antonio de Torres’ works, and Youri Soroka’s Torres model is sure to stay true to those masterpieces as well. Youri is currently polishing up this instrument, and we should have it by the end of May to early June.
The French-Ukrainian luthier mentioned that he was inspired mainly by Torres’ “La Leona” and “La Invincible” (see other “La Leona” models here), so he paid hommage to both of them by creating a unique rosette that combines features of each guitar’s rosettes. This attracted a lot of attention at the recent “Salon de la Belle Guitare” show in Paris that Youri attended. Many people loved the concept, and we’re already loving it from the photos below – see for yourself!
At the Paris show, Youri played guitars by Francisco Simplicio, Miguel Simplicio, Hauser, Dominique Field, Friederich and Torres. He was so impressed by the voice of the Torres that he recorded it to memory by playing it 5 times that day. Then, he returned to work on this model you see below with which he aims to capture the spirit of that Torres sound.
When Cristobal came into the showroom, he decided to leave behind these three great recordings of very Romantic and cinematic pieces on three outstanding guitars.
You’d wish there was more to this first piece and performance of Francisco Tárrega’s “Endecha”, but still it’s sweet to our ears – he plays that on a 1981 Ignacio Fleta that once belonged to Marcelo Kayath. We get a bit more of Tárrega with another short piece called “Oremus” on a beautiful 1962 Manuel Velazquez with a nicely aged spruce top. And then, Cristobal signs off delivering a great performance of Agustin Barrios’ “Sueño en la Floresta” on a new 2019 Kenny Hill “New Century” model.
Tarrega's "Endecha" played by Cristobal Selame on a 1981 Fleta (ex Kayath) - YouTube
Tarrega's "Oremus" played by Cristobal Selame on a 1962 Manuel Velazquez - YouTube
Barrios' "Sueno en la Floresta" played by Cristobal Selame on a 2019 Kenny Hill "New Century" - YouTube
Luthier Federico Sheppard wears many hats other than building great guitars, which include his unique “Camino” models and replicas of the main concert guitars of Agustín Barrios Mangoré. He hosts guitar workshops and presents concerts (over 500 to date) in the north of Spain along the Camino de Santiago, where he also writes and publishes articles for the Guild of American Luthiers and Soundboard magazine. This is a short-list of all he does; however, it has been with Herculean effort that his current project is nearly complete: called “El Libro de Oro – The Book of Gold”, this is a multi-volume and new edition of the works of Agustín Barrios Mangoré, commemorating the 75th anniversary of his passing. Acting as editor, contributing author and collector, Sheppard has included many hitherto unknown works, including the Barrios method, studies, duos, solos and arrangements of other composers. Published by Les Productions D’Oz, a very well-known publisher of sheet music for the guitar, with a release date set for June 2019.
The Barrios Renaissance (by Federico Sheppard)
In the 75 years since the death of Agustin Barrios, the English-speaking world has seen but a fraction of his lifetime output of compositions, arrangements of other composers, and teaching materials. This can be traced to many factors, among them the distance from the source material to the arms of researchers, and the number of locations where his works lay scattered to the wind. Political instability in Venezuela, where he had some of his greatest success, has not made things easier. Only a few Latin American countries have digitized their newspapers allowing study of them from a distance, and hundreds of pages of original Barrios materials lay in the hands of the families of the original students who stole much of his life’s work from the house where his body lay cold awaiting a hero’s burial on August 8, 1944. Other teaching materials from the students, copied directly from the original works of the master, when added to these constitute a treasure trove of the unseen works of a true musical genius.
Barrios, one of the first musical performers in South America to regularly fly to his concerts, was a very forward thinker, and apparently racially blind. Of the many faults of his homeland Paraguay, racial prejudice is not among them, and he went on to have some of his greatest successes in the company of his black wife Gloria and Jewish patron Tomas Salomoni. Seemingly overlooked by previous biographers, Barrios was in fact the last person of color to perform in Nazi Germany, just 2 days before the cultural ban that marked the end of cultural freedom in the Nazi era.
Despite this monumental achievement, in those following years when Andrés Segovia virtually ruled the guitar world, Barrios’ legacy suffered for decades even after his death from racially motivated insensitivity. In hindsight, it is clear that destiny created Segovia in the guise of a Spanish Conquistador, while the humble Barrios was cloaked in the identity of the last chief of the Timbues Indians – “Mangoré” – revered by his people as the “Chief who died for love”. In the bloody conflict that resulted from this early 16th century confrontation between conquistador and indigenous peoples, both leaders lie dead, as our Segovia and Barrios do now. History has repeated itself.
This racial insensitivity cut both ways. The students of Barrios and their descendants were very wary of the mostly white skinned investigators who entered El Salvador, where Barrios spent his last years, and held many of their treasured materials close to the vest. It took an indigenous person, in this case one Ramses Calderon, to engage the trust of the original students of Barrios and their clans to allow the original materials in their possession to be copied and assembled into the true and original method for guitar used by Barrios from 1940-1944. Thanks to the talented staff at Les Productions d’OZ, this original method is available, and with it 6 volumes of the work of this master covering every facet of his enigmatic career. A sneak preview is available below of the six-volume “Libro de Oro” that will be released this June.
The good people at GSI have entered into a landmark agreement to produce video lessons to accompany this first ever publication of the Barrios method and allow the legacy of this humble man to live on and spread his light to every corner of the world.
Speaking on behalf of the students of Barrios, Dr. Roberto Bracamonte wrote after the maestro’s death:
“Mangoré, as an artist, used to be a crying and feeling heart; as a composer a genius; as a master, a patient and true apostle; as a man, unique and one of those who God sends only once in centuries for them to guide their fellows with their light along the rough path of life; as a friend, for his friendship equals faithfulness turned into a person, and for his subordinates a loving father. There will be no one like him and his loss will never be repaired. When undertaking the eternal journey to the place of perfection that corresponds to select spirits, our master and friend leaves us drowning in the deepest sorrow; but we know he has not abandoned us and he still lives among us; his image of peace, nobility and sweetness will always be beating in our hearts. God, by receiving him into his bosom, has felt an immense joy, and choirs of angels have played celestial marches of triumph.”
A “Mangoreano” is a follower of the art and teachings of Barrios. As a Mangoreano, I have done my best to honor my responsibilities to the master.
A new guitar is arriving to our showroom soon, and this one features a cedar top and Amazon rosewood back and sides straight from the working hands of Andy Culpepper in New York.
We enjoy showcasing Andy’s work as he is a very talented builder (just look at his tonewood selection, especially the figured rosewood for the back as well as his detailed craftsmanship!). Further, Andy used a master-grade cedar top that is 20 years old and was in possession of his mentor Richard Cogger – who himself studied under Ervin Somogyi, Kenny Hill and Jeffrey Elliott – before passing it on to Andy. As Andy says, Cogger only built about 25 guitars during his career but was highly interested in the theoretical aspects of luthiery.
See Andy Culpepper’s latest creation below and just why we think his eye for selection of materials is superb!
Through encounters with aficionados who held rare recordings in their possession to particular items he found himself, our friend Jack Silver tells of how the Segovia and His Contemporaries series of recordings came to fruition on the DOREMI label. After discovering one Segovia recording, Jack’s idea took flight. Enjoy the third installment of Jack’s story as he shares his life as a collector, and stay tuned for Part 4, which we’ll release next week.
Antecedents of the Segovia and His Contemporaries historical recordings
I vividly recall sitting in Jack Duarte’s cozy studio in North London—reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street lodgings—back in 1973. Jack carefully took out an ancient shellac disc of Segovia playing Albeniz’s ‘Torre Bermeja’ and put it on his equally ancient turntable. He lit his ever-present pipe, took a puff, sat back, and smiled. In a few moments, the gorgeous sounds of Segovia’s Hauser poured through the speakers. I was transfixed by the beauty of the sonority and the breathtaking virtuosity of the playing.
Back then, few had ever heard Segovia’s recordings from the 78 era. I certainly hadn’t: I was familiar only with the American Decca recordings made in the 1950s and 60s when Segovia was no longer a young man. It was not until 1980 that a 2-LP set of his HMV recordings made between 1927 and 1939 appeared as The Art of Segovia. It was only then that aficionados could hear the full range of the maestro’s artistry when he was a young man. I did not know then that there were subsequent recordings made in the 1940s in New York on Musicraft and Decca, and Columbia in Britain.
2-LP set of Barrios recordings
Like many others, I had supposed that Segovia was pretty much the only classical guitarist who recorded in the 78 era. Then, in 1980, Richard Stover and Morris Mizrahi released a 2-LP set of recordings made by Agustin Barrios. They followed this up two years later with the issuing of an LP of the 78 recordings of Miguel Llobet made in 1925 (anachronistically “enhanced for stereo”), with a booklet by Ron Purcell. Subsequently, Chanterelle remastered these, with additional recordings, on CD.
These pioneering restorations greatly enlarged the scope of
our knowledge of classical guitar recordings in the first half of the twentieth
century. Little did I know that this modest stream was to eventually become a
mighty river in the years to come. As I mentioned in an earlier installment,
Bob Trenholm’s and my acquisition of the treasure hoard of a farmer in rural
Ontario opened our ears to a far broader range of recordings made by classical
guitarists than we had ever imagined.
2-LP set of Llobet recordings
The seeds of the DOREMI series Segovia and His Contemporaries came from this treasure. Over the past 30 years, I have diligently sought out many other 78 recordings—and even Edison cylinders. At present, I have over 600 recordings in my collection. Who knew? Our aim in the series was to showcase Segovia together with one or more of his contemporaries, so that listeners could compare his artistry with that of artists who were active at the same time. To date, the 12 CDs (including two box sets) have greatly enlarged our knowledge of the rich legacy of guitar recordings. And yet, they barely scratch the surface…
A caveat: back in 1997, not all of Segovia’s 78s had been
released on LP or CD, and those that had, had not always been transferred with
the fidelity needed—largely owing to the limitations of restoration technology
back then. Today, these technologies are far more advanced, and indeed, it is
time for the early recordings of Segovia, Llobet, and Barrios to be remastered
again for a new generation.
In the next segment, I will survey the artists and recordings represented in the Segovia and His Contemporaries series, and in future installments I will investigate artists whose wonderful recordings have not yet seen the light of day.