June 22, 2008
Born, raised, and trained in Uruguay, Julio Martínez Oyanguren (1901-1973) was one of the great South American classical guitarists. Like some of his contemporaries, Agustín Barrios of Paraguay and Guillermo Gomez of Spain/Mexico for example, Oyanguren played his own arrangements and guitar transcriptions of works by classical composers, as well as his own compositions. When it comes to classical guitarists, the folk idioms inherent in their original compositions are what move me the most.
Oyanguren began recording for Victor in Argentina in the early 1930s, which is when his “Jota” was recorded. His career lasted decades (he also recorded a number of 78s for Columbia records around the same time), he toured internationally, was respected and well-known, and released many LPs. This original piece, however, does not appear to have made it to CD. Numerous other performances by Oyanguren (and many other excellent artists) can be found at Fine Fretted.
This track was a tough one to remaster (I had it sitting on my computer for months), despite the fact that it’s a shiny, beautiful copy. Victor Records in Argentina gave us an exceptionally “low” recording of this song and an iffy pressing – the more quiet the music, the more loud the classic, grainy Victor surface noise. I gave it my best shot.
Label: Victor (Argentina)
Issue Number: 37072
Matrix Number: n/a
February 25, 2008
Little is known about Juan Rodríguez, except that he settled in Buenos Aires around 1920, and eventually became an artistic director for the fledgling Disco Electra label. According to the information I’ve been able to dig up (most of it from Omar Facelli in Montevideo), Rodríguez recorded approximately 25 records for Disco Electra, most of them stellar examples of criollo folk songs from the River Plate region, accompanied by guitars. He later recorded some for Columbia before passing away ca. 1935. This piece stems from ca. 1928, by my best guess.
Disco Electra was, as far as I can tell, an early independent label out of Buenos Aires. Because Victor, Columbia, and Odeon essentially monopolized all the recording in the region, smaller outfits like Disco Electra probably had to work hard to compete. Despite the fact that the quality of their pressings can’t hold a candle to the major labels’, and that they were still recording acoustically until at least 1928-1929 (most companies worldwide had switched to microphone recording by 1926), important music was recorded on Disco Electra…and here’s but one example!
A note: my bandwidth usage has skyrocketed this month, interestingly. While this heartens (and kind of amazes) me that so many people are downloading and listening to this lost music, I will have to (insert hangdog look here) keep a sharp eye on usage. In other words, I may have to resort to what every other blog does – keeping only the most recent tracks downloadable. I’ve kept this issue at bay by purchasing what I thought was a massive amount of bandwidth, but I may have to humbly ask your forgiveness in this arena. If you see early tracks disappear in the next week or so, don’t be surprised. Get ‘em while you still can!
Label: Disco Electra
Issue Number: 153
Matrix Number: 815