Barrios

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COMPOSERS: Barrios
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Guitar Music, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: Enno Voorhorst (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555718
‘He was always good to his old mum,’ people are wont to say of nasty criminals who make a point of remembering Mother’s Day. But the filial piety of Paraguayan composer Agustín Pío Barrios, whose Invocation to My Mother opens this CD, seems to be the real thing. Or rather he was no more sentimental about his mother than about the cathedral at Montevideo (The Cathedral) or the sleeping doll of an admirer’s daughter (Sleep of the Little Doll). For Barrios, the world was cloaked in sentiment, most of it in a minor key and embroidered with plenty of wistfulness.

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His music would not be as charming as it often is – witness the beguiling rhythmic patterns of Spinner’s Song, for example – if an interpreter downplayed this overwhelming tendency, but for my money Enno Voorhorst gauges it just right. If even he cannot quite prevent a piece like Contemplation sounding like a nostalgic advert for tortillas the way mama used to make them, for the most part his rhythmic flexibility, dextrous tremolos and effortless harmonics provide an ideal conduit for Barrios’s simple and unselfconscious music. It is a frail idiom, easy to dismiss and disregarded for decades; but certainly worth the rediscovery. Christopher Wood