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Album Title:Journeys
Artist:Santa Fe Guitar Quartet
Performers:Christopher Dorsey, Mariano Fontana, Miguel Piva, Eric Slavin
Item Code:ALBUM-00314
Label:Soundset Recordings
Performance Type:   Studio Recording
Genre:Classical, Latin Music, World Music
Sub-Genre:Spanish, Guitar, Chamber Music, Argentina, Tango

 




Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Three Modern Tangos
La muerte del angel, Mumuki, Escualo

In the mid-1950's, Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla began revolutionizing the tango by adding elements of dissonance, chromaticism, rhythmic complexity, and jazz. Piazzolla received death threats from Argentine "nationalists" and tango purists in response to his radical treatment of the tango. Only recently has his music become accepted, both in Argentina and also in concert halls throughout much of the world.

La muerte del ángel [The Death of the Angel] (1962) is incidental music from the three-act play El tango del ángel (1962) by Alberto Rodrí­guez Muñoz. It is heard at the play's end and starts with a tango fugue in three parts that is followed by a section that depicts the desperate fight between the devil and the angel. It has been said that "Mumuki" was a nickname given by Astor to both his Yorkshire terrier and to his second wife, Laura Escalada. His composition Mumuki (1986) is one of Piazzolla's most beautiful creations and is characterized by a simple 3-note melodic motif sequenced over frequently shifting key changes. Piazzolla loved shark fishing at his summer home in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Escualo (1979) [literally "dogfish" or "small shark"] comes from a fruitful periods of relaxation and inspiration there. It is a work of shifting meters that Piazzolla wrote for violinist Fernando Suárez Paz of his second quintet.

Pat Metheny (b. 1954)
Three Pieces
45/8, In Her Family, Better Days Ahead

Guitarist and composer Pat Metheny, born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1954, is one of the most important current voices in jazz. He has redefined the sound and role of the guitar in jazz and as a composer has created beautiful and lush music taking inspiration from Brazilian rhythms and at others times from elements as "American" as the midwestern landscape.

45/8 (1988) from his album Letter from Home is a composition based upon a rhythmic template of 45 eighth notes before a strong downbeat that begins a simple 8-bar phrase written by co-composer and keyboardist Lyle Mays. This performance features a charango, a small, ten-stringed musical instrument made from the shell of an armadillo. The charango is typical in Andean music and other folk music of South America.

In Her Family (1986) from the album Still Life (Talking) was written on the last day of summer vacation in upstate New York and is a precursor to other piano-based ballads played with soprano guitar doubling the high register of the piano.

Better Days Ahead (1979) also from his album Letter from Home was written on tour with the Pat Metheny Group in Fulton, Missouri. Originally entitled Fulton, it stayed in the Pat Metheny Group's play list for around ten years without ever being recorded. It evokes a bebop harmonic vocabulary with a guitar-based rhythmic accompaniment related to the Brazilian bossa nova.

Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)
Two Spanish Pieces
Almerí­a from Iberia
Aragón, fantasí­a from Suite española

Isaac Albéniz is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most famous Spanish composers of the late 19th century. Though a Catalonian by birth and a composer primarily for solo piano, many of his works imitate guitar playing and the flamenco song and dance forms of southern Spain's region of Andalucí­a. From 1905 to 1908 Albéniz wrote his masterpiece, Iberia, a collection of 12 impressions published in four books for piano solo, evocative of the sounds and rhythms of his Spain though in a style notably influenced by the impressionistic colors and sounds of the French composers. The beautiful Almerí­a is from the second book and emphasizes color, revealing a greater density of texture in contrast to his earlier piano works. It is an evocation of the Anadalucí­a of the past.

The lively Aragón was first published in 1889 in Paris as the first piece of Dos danzas españolas. However, it is much probably more famous as a part of his popular Suite española. His most extended piano work before Iberia, it is a fantasy based on the jota aragonesa of Aragón that features an authentic popular theme, which is rare in his music.

Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000)
Two Argentine Romances
Muchacho jujeño, Baile

Carlos Guastavino, born in Santa Fe, Argentina, was one of the foremost Argentine classical composers of the 20th century. His production totals more than 200 works, most of it dedicated to the piano and to the voice. Included in his opus are three sonatas for solo guitar. An accomplished pianist with an intense gift for melody, Guastavino always wrote effectively for the piano, mastering not only its brilliant and virtuoso aspect, but also the intimate and poetic side of this instrument. His style, always tonal and lusciously romantic, is fully based on Argentine folk music. His distillation of local folk elements into an avowedly romantic-nationalist idiom is natural, and the popular spirit of the original folk melodies and rhythms always remains untouched and fresh, even at moments of complex rhythmic, harmonic, or contrapuntal elaboration. These Two Romances, Muchacho jujeño and Baile, come from Tres romances written for two pianos in 1948 and published in 1951. Muchacho jujeño [Boy from Jujuy] is in the rhythmic form of a bailecito, while the Baile [Dance] is based on a folk dance named "gato."

Will Ayton (b. 1948)
Prelude and Ricercar for guitar quartet

Born in Kansu province China and the son of missionary parents, Will Ayton developed an interest in music of the Middle Ages in the 1970s and later earned a doctorate in music composition from Boston University. He has two distinct compositional styles""one more tonal and traditional, and the other clearly in the language of the 20th century. He now resides in Providence, Rhode Island where he composes and teaches music at Roger Williams University.

Prelude and Ricercar for guitar quartet displays the influence of both Oriental culture and the Renaissance. Though perhaps not audibly evident, The Prelude and Ricercar was written during one of the composer's "homage to Villa-Lobos" stages. Ayton wrote that Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and his interest in J.S. Bach were the inspiration for the prelude. Characterized by imitation, this ricercar "originally an improvisatory genre of the Renaissance" features a middle section entitled "in the Mist.