The Guitar History of Alirio Diaz = Works of TARREGA, LAURO, ALBENIZ, HAYDN, BACH, SCARLATTI, SPOR & Others – Tuxedo

The Guitar History of Alirio Diaz = TARREGA: Recuerdos de Alhambra; LAURO: Dos valses venezolanos; SOJO: Guasa; Cancion; Quirpo; ALBENIZ: Leyenda; HAYDN: Minuet; SANZ: Pavane y Folia; SCARLATI: Sonata; BACH: Gavotte from Violin Partita in E; Fuga from Violin Sonata in G Minor; SOR: Variations on a Theme from Mozart, Op. 9 – Alirio Diaz, guitar – Tuxedo TUXCD 1064 (4/7/15), 50:27 [Distr. by Albany] ****:  

Recorded in 1965, this disc hardly provides a comprehensive “guitar history of Alirio Diaz” (b. 1923), active since he was sixteen years of age. The failure to include Rodrigo’s Invocacion y Danza, a Diaz specialty, invalidates the claim.  But those selections we do enjoy validate the strength of the Diaz technique and clarity of articulation, buttressed by his studies with Segovia.

The two anonymous Canciones populares catalanes testify to a command of various effects of strumming and picking individual tones and colored chords of idiosyncratic national character. The rapid tremolo stretti of the famed Tarrega Recuerdos de Alhambra in A Minor cast a Moorish sensibility of eroticism and doleful melancholy. A militant playfulness in galant style defines the little Minuet of Joseph Haydn. The Gaspar Sanz arrangement, Pavane y Folia, sets in aristocratic style a seventeenth century air as a series of staid variants in ornamental figures. The little Scarlatti Sonata adjusts to the guitar or lute tablature with no loss of its delicate gavotte character.

The final three offerings on the disc all celebrate the Segovia influence in the Diaz legacy. The Bach Gavotte from the Solo Partita in E Major, BWV 1006 already asserts itself in the Rachmaninov transcription for piano, so the guitar incarnation certainly strikes us as legitimate, emotionally as well as technically. So, too, the Fuga from the G Minor Sonata in three voices certifies the Diaz resonant dexterity and sheer tactile power over a sustained musical line. The close microphone placement increases the percussion of Diaz’s fingers on the fingerboard as well as the polyphonic sheen of the guitar’s capacity for rich texture. Finally, Diaz plays the 1821 Introduction and Variations on a Theme of Mozart by Fernando Sor. The tune from Mozart’s The Magic Flute undergoes a series of boldly brilliant transformations in the guitar’s own idiom, performed with smooth accuracy by Diaz. Each of the musical periods resonates according to its character, whether dolce or scherzando. The rapid scalar passages and repeated notes literally fly off the page, as true to the guitar’s natural vitality as ever Ricci shook vibrant effects from his Stradivarius.

Fifty minutes of virtuoso guitar playing that pass all too quickly.

—Gary Lemco

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