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Antonio LAURO (1917-1986)
Música de Antonio Lauro - Volume 1
Maria Carolina [2:42]; Cueca Chilena [1:56]; Cancion [2:01]; El Totumo de Guarenas (Benito Canónigos - arr. Lauro) [1:49]
Trŕptico: Armida [2:54]; Madrugada [1:38]; La Negra [2:34];
Variaciones sobra una Canción Infantil [7:38]; Nocturno [1:07]; EL Niño [2:19]; Oriente [2:07]; Pasaje Aragüeño 1:53];
Suite Hommenaje a Duarte: Fantasia 2:56]; Pavana [3:16]; Giga [1:57];
Cuarto Vals Venezolanos: Tatiana [1:15]; Andreina [1:08]; Natalia 1:48]; Yacambú [2:58]
Sonata: Allegro [5:22]; Canción [4:30]; Bolera [4:21]
Dos canciones de Cuna: Ana FLorencia [1:56]; Ana Cristina [2:04]
Merengue [1:43]; Crepuscular [1:40]; Romanza [2:36]; Maria Luisa [2:35]; Pavana [2:33]; Seis por Derecho [3:12]
Carlos Pérez (guitar)
rec. March-April 2006: in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of Antonio Lauro’s death.
PRODIMUS PDM 1030 [75:50]

The majority of guitar music with merit, written in the 19th century, is from the pens of that instrument’s virtuoso players. Segovia’s challenge was not the size of the extant repertory, but the quality.
 
To place the guitar on an equal footing with other concert instruments, he needed to develop a corpus of works that would complement the guitar’s evolution from salon to the concert stages of the world.
 
While the tradition of the guitar virtuoso/composer continued into the 20th century, it was finally eclipsed by the contributions of composers, often encourage by Segovia, who perceived the latent possibilities of the guitar. Although the Paraguayan virtuoso/composer Agustin Barrios composed some quite magnificent smaller pieces, Segovia totally ignored them, excluding all from his recordings and live performance; he even went as far as banning them from performance in his master classes.
 
One of the most popular guitar virtuoso/composers of the 20th century was Antonio Lauro. Writing in a diverse style, it is his Venezuelan Waltzes for which he is most remembered and revered. The Waltz No 3, Natalia (18), is one of the best-known, and loved, items in the guitar repertory.

Lauro was born in 1917 in Angostura (Ciudad Bolívar), Southern Venezuela. His father died when Lauro was five years old, and in 1926 Lauro moved to Caracas and studied piano with Slavador Llamozas. Strongly influenced by Agustin Barrios, Lauro entered the School of Guitar at the National Conservatory in 1934 to study with Raúl Borges. While studying guitar Lauro worked as a guitar accompanist on radio. He formed a vocal-guitar trio, and not only arranged the music, but also played principal guitar, and sang baritone.
 
His almost two-year tour from Venezuela to Chile with the trio, commencing in 1940, marked his entire creative existence. He began to write new waltzes such as El Marabino and Natalia. He gathered material and influences that would blossom in his final creative period when he would writeNelly a ‘gaita marabina’ and Cueca Chilena. When he returned to Venezuela he devoted himself almost entirely to studying composition with Vicente Emilio Sojo.
 
Lauro began to get international recognition in the 1960s especially as a result of the concert performances of his music by Alirio Diaz. His Venezuelan Waltzes Maria Luisa, Angostura and Carora date from this period. Lauro died on 18 April 1986 in Caracas at the age of 68.
 
The review disc comprises an all Lauro programme constituting thirty tracks. It is well balanced and includes not only the more famous compositions, but others which are not frequently recorded. Many of the items are selected from important composing periods and phases of Lauro’s career.
 
Carlos Pérez was born in Santiago, Chile in 1976. Influenced by his father, the young Carlos began his association with the guitar at an early age. He studied at the Arts Faculty of the University of Chile under Ernesto Quezada, and graduated with honours. Carlos Pérez has been awarded top prize in major international guitar competitions in Europe and America. He is a professor of guitar at the Arts Faculty, University of Chile.
 
This reviewer’s introduction to Carlos Pérez was serendipitous: one of his two DVDs came into his possession unexpectedly: Guitarra Clásica (MB21399DVD) is not the subject of this review, but it is appropriate to say that it is excellent in every way, and a strong motivation to further pursue the performances of Pérez; you can see an extract on YouTube

One thing that impresses when first hearing Carlos Pérez, is his significant technical facility. Visually and audibly, even the most complex and technically challenging music is executed with what appears consummate ease. Despite technical facility, some players appear to be making ‘hard work’ of more difficult pieces. Facial expressions quickly lead one to this conclusion, erroneous though it may be.
 
Then there is the sound: a beautiful full, round tone and inordinate attention paid to the various voices within the music. This preoccupation is particularly evident on the review disc where under Lauro’s often tender melodies, the inner voices are constantly moving. The traditional music on which Lauro based his waltzes demands a strong rhythmic sense from the guitarist. They feature syncopation and rhythmic interplay, blending and layering accents of 3/4 and 6/8 time. Pérez’s empathy for these demands is exemplified in his winning of the First Prize in the Alirio Diaz Competition in Venezuela.
 
Having listened primarily to one man, Alirio Diaz, play the works of Lauro supremely, and without effective competition for almost four decades, it may be that inculcated preference alone will inhibit these renditions being supplanted. That said, the current offerings by Carlos Pérez leave nothing to be desired and everything to be admired; all else is just a matter of personal preference.
 
The guitar Carlos Pérez plays on this disc is an impressive instrument by Manuel Contreras II, Madrid, 2003. It is responsive to the player’s preoccupation with the inner voices of the music. This capability of traditional fan-braced guitars is often lost in designs that depart from tradition in the pursuit of louder volumes. The very latest instrument played by Carlos Perez is from the hands of Angel Benito Aguado.
 
Zane Turner 

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