ECGS Article Archives
Recordings of Note
by Ernst Birss

People with an interest in the history of the guitar and its music will be pleased to learn that the complete recordings of Augustin Barrios, Miguel Llobet, and the duo Presti-Lagoya have all recently become available on CD. Chanterelle Verlag of Germany is responsible for a three CD set that brings together the surviving recordings made in the first half of this century by Augustin Barrios Mangore, the Paraguayan guitarist-composer whose work is now undergoing such a strong revival. Barrios was one of the first guitarists to make use of gramophone technology to disseminate his music (some of these tracks date from c.1913!), and although sound quality is often poor, Barrios' virtuosity always shines through. In addition to performances of such Barrios classics as La Catedral and Un Sueno en la Floresta, these CDs also feature the master playing works by Sor and Tarrega, and his own transcriptions of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and others. To complement the Barrios set, Chanterelle Verlag has also issued a compilation of music recorded in the 1920s by the noted Spanish guitarist, Miguel Llobet. A student of Tarrega, Llobet is now probably best known for his arrangements of the Catalonian folksongs El Testament d'Amelia and La Fille del Marxant, both of which can be heard on this single CD. The sound quality here is better than on the Barrios set and the playing is warm and colorful. Also appearing are several duets performed by Llobet and his student, Maria Luisa Anido.

As if to make up for the recent unavailability of duo recordings by Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya, Philips Classics has just released a three CD set made up of the five albums recorded by these French guitarists for Philips in the 1960s. The first internationally famous guitar duo, Presti and Lagoya were directly responsible for the popularity of such ensembles today and were also instrumental in expanding the duet repertoire. Appearing on this set are works composed especially for the pair by Rodrigo, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and others, as well as Lagoya's innovative arrangements of Falla's Ritual Fire Dance, Handel's Chaconne in G, and concertos by Marcello and Haydn (the Haydn concerto was originally written for two hurdy-gurdies!). Notes by John Duarte include some fascinating personal reminiscences.

Augustin Barrios: The Complete Guitar Recordings (1913-42), Chanterelle Historical Recordings CHR-002 (1993), and Miguel Llobet: The Guitar Recordings (1925-29), Chanterelle Historical Recordings CHR-001 (1993), are both available from Guitar Solo in San Francisco. Ida Presti & Alexandre Lagoya: Duo Extraordinaire, Philips Classics Productions 446 213-2 (1995), can be obtained from local CD stores.

- Ernst Birss