German guitarist Oliver Fartach-Naini brings a haunting, mellow sonority to the opening milonga, Un neuvo día (a new day), of Argentinian guitarist-composer Máximo Diego Pujol’s Seis Revelaciones. Fartach-Naini’s attractive new disc, Suite Latina, is the final of four recordings by the guitarist (who leads the guitar department at the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide) at the core of his doctoral dissertation examining the phenomenon of ‘ethno-classicism’ and the confluence of African, Amerindian and European traditions in South American music and the guitar repertoire internationally. It brings together four works by guitarist-composers – Pujol’s Seis Revelaciones and Suite Adelaires, fellow Argentinian Héctor Ayala’s Serie Americana and Australian Richard Charlton’s Suite Latina – which draw on the myriad musical cultures that have shaped the guitar repertoire.

Seis Revelaciones (Six Revlations) is a suite of six independently written pieces published together in 2015. Pujol’s work – like the other suites on the program – presents a series of vignettes, describing different scenes and drawing on different musical styles. One highlight is the bright, energetic Mulato, Pujol paying tribute to the indigenous peoples of Argentina, another is the more reflective Cancíon de la tarde (afternoon song), written for Italian guitarist Giulio Tampalini.

Australian composer Richard Charlton’s language also very much draws on forms from South America, though in the second movement of his 2006 Suite Latina, Tango in the Dark, the music is coloured by intriguing dissonances, deftly shaped here by Fartach-Naini, for whom he wrote the work.

Serie American, by the album’s elder statesman, Ayala, who died in 1990, opens with a melancholy Preludio, Fartach-Naini’s high register exquisitely crisp and rounded, before embarking on a journey through the musics of six South American countries, from the rhythmic elegance of Choro from Brazil to the more astringent tone of Takirari, with origins in Bolivian indigenous tribal rituals. The suite culminates in the Argentinian dances of Gato y Malambo.

Perhaps the most intriguing work on this disc, however, is Pujol’s Suite Adelaires – a portmanteau of Adelaide and Buenos Aires – which the composer wrote for Fartach-Naini in 2014. The piece opens with a glittering Preludio, the insistently motoring Tangostinato second movement flecked, as the whole suite is, with harmonics. The milonga En dos por cuartas continues a theme of multilingual – and musicological – wordplay, punning on quartal harmony and a tango term for two-four time, “en dos por cuatro” while the sentimental Las Camelias was inspired by the favourite flowers of Pujol’s mother. It provides a moment of peace before the bouncing rhythms and urgent bass notes of Capicúa (palindrome) bring the disc home.

All in all, this release is an interesting exploration of the myriad forms and styles that have become so much a part of the modern guitar repertoire – and with warm, confident performances from Fartach-Naini, it’s also a very pleasant way to spend an hour.


Composer: Máximo Diego Pujol, Richard Charlton, Héctor Ayala
Composition: Seis Revalaciones, Suite Latina, Serie Americana, Suite Adelaires
Performer: Oliver Fartach-Naini
Catalogue Number: Ethnoclassics


Oliver Fartach-Naini performs at the Ian Potter Southbank Centre in Melbourne on May 2 and at the Kay Brothers Winery, McLaren Vale, on May 12