Dans la grande famille des compositeurs guitaristes d’Amérique du Sud, Antonio Lauro (1917-1986) représente brillamment le Vénézuéla puisqu’il est considéré comme une des figures majeures de la guitare du vingtième siècle. Il apprend la musique au conservatoire de Caracas. Un concert du maître Agustin barrios Mangore le convainc d’abandonner le piano pour la guitare et à partir de 1933 il étudie l’instrument auprès de Raul Borges. Fervent nationaliste, il s’engagera durant sa longue carrière d’interprète (notamment avec son Trio Cantores del Tropico) à faire valoir l’héritage musical de son pays. Dans son catalogue pour guitare, Lauro reste globalement fidèle à la Calle real (la manière la plus simple et directe de composer sans détours harmoniques) tout en y instillant selon les œuvres, des éléments propres au style occidental : l’intrusion de formes nouvelles (Sonate, Variacones sobre una cancion infantil) et une utilisation parcimonieuse du contrepoint (Estudios en imitationes). Cela dit, Lauro renouvelle aussi la technique de l’instrument (l’utilisation de l’hémiole dans la mesure) dans sa relecture des danses traditionnelles (les multiples formes de Valses populaires). Cet enregistrement du guitariste Cristiano Poli Cappelli offre une belle introduction à l’œuvre du compositeur à travers ses œuvres majeures : la formidable Suite Vénézolana, les quatre élégantes Valses Venezolanos dédiées respectivement à sa nièce, sa sœur et sa propre fille (la fameuse Val Criollo), le Triptico écrit à la demande d’Andres Segovia, ainsi que quelques pépites isolées qui sont devenues des standards pour tous les guitaristes (Angostura, Carora, La Danza Negra, Madrugada, La Gattica, Armida). (Jérôme Angouillant)
Born in Venezuela to Italian parents, Antonio Lauro (1917–1986) was very young when he began taking music lessons from his father. At the age of 9, Lauro, against his family’s wishes, began lessons in piano and composition at the Academia de Música y Declamación. However, after he encountered the music of Agustín Barrios Mangoré, Lauro gave up his violin and piano studies to dedicate himself completely to the guitar, moved as he was by Mangoré’s music. Lauro went on to become an exceptional guitarist, as well as a composer. Politically engaged, Lauro was a fervent nationalist, and it was his political convictions that drove him to celebrate, and make in-depth studies of, the origins and heritage of Venezuelan music. In 1951, Lauro was imprisoned by General Marcos Pérez Jiménez on account of his democratic convictions; Lauro would later describe his prison experience as a normal part of life for a Venezuelan man of his generation. However, imprisonment did not deter him from organising a series of concerts, as well as continuing to compose wonderful pieces that would later win him the National Music Prize, Venezuela’s highest artistic award. And it was during his time in prison that he wrote two of his most important pieces: the Sonata for guitar and the famous Suite venezolana, followed by his Concerto for guitar and orchestra. His music, and particularly his pieces for guitar, transcended the confines of Venezuela’s musical scene to become a hugely important benchmark for subsequent generations of players worldwide. His compositions for guitar aimed to create a synthesis of Venezuelan popular music with elaborate forms from the European tradition. He took inspiration firstly from popular and folk-inspired pieces such as the Venezuelan waltzes (valses venezolanos) and pieces written in traditional styles; secondly, from demanding works deploying the most sophisticated aspects and features of the Western compositional tradition, such as the Sonata and the Suite venezolana; and thirdly, contrapuntal styles. Lauro is a composer whose greatness is deserving of recognition above and beyond his accomplishments in the reinterpretation of music from the popular and folk traditions, hugely successful though these were. His great achievement as a composer was to absorb and synthesise, in an entirely idiosyncratic and personally creative manner, a range of highly distinct elements and to bring them to life in compositions of real substance. This recording aims to bring together all the different facets of Lauro’s musical personality, while attempting to avoid the cliché of a folk-based, instinctual interpretation, instead approaching his music in a more structured manner.