Latin-American folk music has been part of my live since I was a child. I began my music education playing Cuatro (a Venezuelan string instrument) then Guitar and Tiple (a Colombian string instrument) and singing Latin-American folk songs. Also, at home we use to listen a lot of Latin-American music. My parents were fans of performers like Los Chalchaleros, Los Visconti, Carlos Gardel, Julio Sosa, Agustin Magaldi and many other Argentinian performers. As well as Mexican stars like Pedro Vargas, Jorge Negrete, Javier Solis and countless others from all over Latin-America. Thus, I was acquainted with Zamba, Chacarera, Milonga, Tango to name the most popular airs from Argentina; Bolero and Ranchera, from Mexico and all the rich diversity of Latin-American folkloric music.
This Cd is the result of my Doctoral research at Stony Brook University Department of Music. I began my research studying how the Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino successfully blended elements from the Argentine folk music into art songs in the second half of the XX c. His songs navigate from plain folkloric music style to a more European sound, creating a thin boundary between what is called “Folkloric” and “Classical” styles.
What I found in the course of my research was a wealth of music from Latin-America. One of the most interesting findings was the spontaneous wave of Nationalistic movements in South and Central America that started in the first halve of the XX c. Also, how the rich rhythms and characteristic harmonies of the Latin-American folk song, usually performed with guitar and percussion instruments in varied ensemble formats, typically performed in public gatherings and family celebrations were transferred into art songs intended to be performed in the concert hall using the piano – voice ensemble format.
In order to select the songs for this program I based my assortment criteria on two characteristics, the theme of love and the nationality of the composer therefore the sonority of the song regarding the folkloric background of the composer. Each song in this recital program displays a way of expressing love. From paternal / maternal love in Rocio, to unsuccessful love in Despedida. From a sacred prayer in Huiracocha to the seductive Cita. Also, each song in this recital program represents a unique characteristic sound from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Cuba and Colombia. After a lot of deliberation choosing from a group of about two hundred songs I selected these nineteen Latin-American art songs including a song cycle by the Spanish Composer Joaquin Turina, Homenaje a Lope de Vega Op. 90, because it seemed relevant to show how much the Spanish art song from the end of XIX c. and beginning of XX c. influenced the music writing in Latin-America.
Carlos Guastavino trumped the list of composers in my selection, for the size and recognition of his oeuvre. He became one of the most important composers of the Argentine Nationalistic movement, and has been compared with Schubert for his accomplishments in creating an Argentine art song repertoire that resonates today through the whole world. He is one of the most prolific and respected art song composers in Latin- America with more than five hundred compositions, solidifying the Argentine nationalistic music movement by using folkloric music elements and poems that embodied the idiosyncrasy of Argentine culture in his Art songs, as it occurred in almost every corner of South and Central America. This nationalistic movement started in the first halve of XX c. and was ignited by the desire of composers of finding their unique “nationalistic” sound, perhaps following Schubert’s example. I picked three contrasting pieces from Guastavino’s oeuvre Rocio a lullaby, poem by Gabriela Mistral, Cita a love song, poem by Lorenzo Varela and Pampamapa a passionate song where Guastavino recalls the Huella dance.
Alberto Ginastera is another icon of the Latin-American music. Ginastera conceivably became more famous worldwide sooner than Guastavino because he wrote for many different music ensembles, from orchestra and choral to chamber groups, achieving international recognition while Guastavino focused in his piano-vocal art songs. I selected two contrasting songs from Ginastera’s oeuvre Cancion del beso robado, a provocative playful song and Cancion al arbol del olvido with poem by Fernan Silva Valdez, a serenade song.
Maria Grever the famous Mexican bolero composer, who studied in France with Claude Debussy and became a star for her hit songs Jurame, Te quiero dijiste, Cuando vuelva a tu lado among others. She composed more than eight hundred bolero songs, among those she composed art songs that haven’t been as disseminated as her bolero songs. I selected three of her art songs, two serenade songs that are related to bolero style Despedida and No espero nada de ti, and Atardecer en España, a waltz that retains the same Spanish flavor as the famous Granada by Agustin Lara.
Gustavo Yepez is an orchestra conductor, pianist, composer, and academic from my native country Colombia. He is considered one of the most important musicians and academics in the country. I chose from his oeuvre a Bambuco, the air that represents my hometown region (the Andes’s region) set to a poem by Carlos Castro Saavedra, La niña a de la guitarra.
Clotilde Arias was a Peruvian composer who moved to New York and became an American citizen. She was commissioned by the U.S. Department of State to write the official Spanish version of the U.S. national anthem in 1945. I selected from her oeuvre her famous song Huiracocha, a prayer to the Inca’s deity, in which Arias recreates in the piano part rhythm elements characteristic of the Huayno genre.
Eduardo Sanchez de Fuentes was a Cuban prolific composer and an academic. Beyond his art songs, he composed zarzuela, opera and operetta. I picked from his oeuvre three short songs Secreto, Deseo, and Guajira where the composer syncs precisely the poem and music structures into one with no repetition of words or phrases to accommodate the needs of the music structure. And Rosalinda a love song that was recorded by the famous Italian tenor Tito Schipa who also premier in Cuba Sanchez’s opera el Caminante in 1921.
Julian Aguirre was an important Argentine composer and academic who originated the nationalistic folkloric movement in his country. I picked from his extensive oeuvre Caminito Op.48. poem by Leopoldo Lugones where Aguirre emulates the guitar accompaniment sound with arpeggios in the piano part.
And finally, Carlos Lopez Buchardo another important composer and academic from the Argentine nationalistic movement. His compositions covered different genera like opera, oratorio, music comedy and a small number of songs. I selected from his oeuvre Cancion de ausencia, poem by Gustavo Caraballo. Ingeniously Buchardo sets up a tension between the binary rhythm in the piano accompaniment and triplet figuration in the melodic line that comprehends the nature of many Argentinian and Latin-American airs.