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Manuel Barrueco — “Music from Cuba and Spain, Sierra: Sonata para guitarra” (Tonar Music)

Maestro Manuel Barrueco talks to Guitar Magazine about his latest release, which includes Cuban and Spanish music and the Sierra Sonata, receiving two Latin Grammy nominations.
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You recently released the album Music from Cuba and Spain, Sierra: Sonata para guitarra (Tonar Music). The Spanish colonisation of the island of Cuba during a few centuries originated a great cultural exchange which also impacted the guitar. Describe the process of conceptualising this album, which represents the nexus between Spanish and Cuban music. Also, tell us about how this impacted your choice in repertoire.

I chose the repertoire after researching the relationship between Spanish and Cuban nationalist music. When I did the Albéniz Suite many years ago, one of the pieces was Cuba. Then I found another one called Cuban Rhapsody. Then, looking for music by Granados, I found a piece called A la cubana. I even discovered that Granados’ father was Cuban. Falla also based one of his Four Spanish Songs called Oriental on Cuban “zapateo”. On this album, I also include a work by Joaquín Nin. He was known in Spain for his nationalist music; he was also Cuban. There are many such examples of composers who were inspired by Cuban music or Spaniards who went to Cuba and developed their careers there. With this album, I intend to show this strong connection and interchange.

It also includes the Sonata para guitarra by Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra. It is a great work in a modern language and features rhythmic passages typical of Latin American music. The album has just been nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Classical Album, and Sierra’s work was also nominated in the category of Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Your album reflects the influence of the guitar in both Spanish and Cuban popular music. Increasingly, the classical guitar interacts with other styles such as flamenco. Could you tell us about your next project with Cañizares titled “Classical and Flamenco”, scheduled for the 2023-2024 season?

Cañizares and I have yet to decide what we will do and exactly what we will play, but I think the most exciting part will be from the listener’s perspective. A large part of the public cannot distinguish between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar, and I think this project will help people perceive that distinction. However, we are still in the phase of deciding what we will be playing. The one clear thing is that we will perform Spanish music because there is a magical and inseparable connection between the guitar and Spanish music. The same may be said of the guitar and flamenco music (this also occurs with the electric guitar and rock & roll).

Website: barrueco.com

Full Interview: “Music Is What Feelings Sound Like”

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