Augustin Barrios: there’s just no competition.

I tend to agree with John Williams’ sentiment that Augstin Barrios was the greatest guitar composer ever. Barrios is one of the only classical composers whose music doesn’t bore people unacquainted with classical. This may seem like it’s undercutting the music, but I assure you that most people have no taste or patience for classical music. This is generally classy and accessible music for any audience. You put it on if you need to impress people or get in their pants.

I are Barrios.

A lot of folks now know and love Barrios — he is a cherished classical composer. This may be largely due to the fact that Williams has used his own position of influence in the classical community to bring much-needed attention to this body of work. While John Williams has a reputation amongst some guitar players as being a bit of a machine, I think his performances of Barrios are some of the best, and his From the Jungles of Paraguay CD is one of my favorite guitar albums of all time. It sounds in his performances like John Williams really does appreciate and understand Barrios as much as he says (compared to say, his Charlie Byrd covers). There are many excellent renditions of Barrios pieces (and maybe some recordings of the man himself) but Williams’ is possibly the most polished all-round with regards to performance, style and recording quality.

Dis iz da jam

Perhaps the most famous Barrios piece is ‘La Catedral’, which contains three movements and is one of the most beautiful classical guitar pieces ever. I couldn’t find any of Williams playing it, but this video clip is quite interesting, in which he executes a lovely Barrios piece and breaks down the chord movements, comparing the stylistic and compositional tendencies of the songwriter to the legendary Django Reinhardt.

It is very rare indeed that a musician could write music this complex and beautiful, and yet also perform it. It is an incredibly rare thing to encounter and well worth investigating.

From the Jungles of Paraguay: John Williams Plays Barrios @ Amazon


~ by chaosrexmachinae on September 11, 2007.

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