top of page

Pãssaro de Madeira

Passáro de Madeira presents the musical migrations, freedom and creativity of Latin America. This recording shares the melodies and harmonies of a rich and varied musical landscape. The album title, inspired by a concert tour of Peru, translates in English as ‘Wooden Songbirds’. Each piece presents a unique musical world and demonstrates the guitar’s role at the heart of South American music.


The guitar is Latin America’s best loved and most performed instrument; it has allowed people from all social and economic backgrounds to participate in the expressive melodies and infectious rhythms of a continent. My instrument, an accessible wooden box with six strings, functions here as a solo orchestra interpreting Latin American pieces that were influenced by an exciting mix of European and indigenous sources. The guitar provides distinctive insights into the culture of Latin America, in all its diversity.


The pieces included on this album represent the democratisation of Latin American music, as it combined the influences of the Old and New Worlds. Dance forms which were originally imported into the region for the pleasure of the European ruling classes during the colonial era were subsequently given popular reiterations and enjoyed by poor and rich alike. Other works, composed in Latin America with European harmonies, were combined with melodies from indigenous societies to become something new and distinctive.


00:00 / 04:11

'El Choclo’-Ángel Villoldo (arr. Dyens)

Ángel Villoldo (1861- 1919) was a pioneer of the Tango, transforming the habanera into a native rhythm of Argentina. The title of this work, perhaps the most celebrated tango ever composed, refers to the nickname given to an unscrupulous night club owner with unusual cob-yellow hair.

In 1905 pianist José Luis Roncallo and his orchestra debuted the piece, described as a Danza Criolla to hide its disreputable roots, in Buenos Aires at the Restaurante Americano. This spirited arrangement was created by the French guitarist and composer, Roland Dyens.

‘Valzer Brillante’-Simone Iannarelli

Valzer Brillante is a homage to Augustin Barrios by the Italian composer and guitarist Simone Iannarelli

(1970- ).  This lyrical piece, a song without words, contains conversational counterpoint textured with harmonics.


As the piece develops, the dance characteristics of the bright opening section darken, and modulate to the parallel key of E minor. This leads to a contemplative pedal point passage, mirroring the campanella effect in Barrios’ Vals Op. 8, No. 4 (also called Vals Brillante), with ambiguous chromatic harmonies before returning to a playful recapitulation and humorous coda. Iannarelli is one of the leading guitarists and composers for guitar of his generation and serves as Professor of Classical Guitar at the University of Colima in Mexico.

‘Chôro da Saudade’-Agustín Barrios Mangoré


The Chôro da Saudade, a masterful treatment of the Brazilian chôro form, was first referenced in 1928 but was likely composed in Uruguay some years earlier.

The rondo form structure incorporates three distinct chôro moods; a hauntingly nostalgic da capo section, a dance-like second section, and a spirited third section in the parallel key of G Major.

The virtuosic Paraguayan guitarist and composer Barrios (1885-1944) demonstrated the enormous potential of his instrument to an international audience.  Barrios, in an autograph score from 1929, dedicated this work to the dead son of his close friend, Americo Camargo.

‘Don Agustín Bardi’-Horacio Salgan (arr. Morel)


The composer and pianist Horacio Salgán (1916-2016) composed this work as a homage to fellow Argentine Agustín Bardi (1884-1941); a celebrated pianist, violinist and composer of more than seventy pieces, mainly tangos.


Salgán broadened the vocabulary of his musical form by incorporating diverse musical influences, including the jazz of Ellington and Dorsey, classical works by Bartók and Rossini, Brazilian chôro and African rhythms. 


Salgán’s collaboration with guitarist Ubaldo de Lío, over five decades, led to exciting explorations of countermelody and rhythm.  While his experimentations at the forefront of the ‘new tango’ sound did not excite purists, when he died in Buenos Aires he was revered as the elder statesman of the tango form.


This arrangement is by the Argentine guitarist and composer Jorge Morel.

‘Coração Que Sente’-Ernesto Nazareth (arr. Barreiro)


Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth (1863- 1934) composed Coração Que Sente in 1903.  Nazareth’s forty-one waltzes often combine the influence of Chopin with sentimental modinha melodies, creating a genre known as the Brazilian Waltz.


This waltz is dedicated to Gabriella Cruz Fagundes, a student of Nazareth, in gratitude for her sensitive and humane response when learning about the untimely death of the composer’s nephew.

‘Schottish-Chôro'-Heitor Villa-Lobos


The Schottish-Chôro is the second piece, composed in rondo form, from Villa Lobos’ Suite Popular Brésilienne written between 1908 and 1912. Each movement from the Suite Popular Brésilienne combines the social informality and improvisatory nature of the Brazilian chôro with popular European dance forms, in this instance the polka.


Villa-Lobos played the guitar in the chôro ensembles of Rio de Janeiro. He is unusual, amongst composers who have found inspiration from folk traditions, in writing so extensively for the guitar.

'Melodia Sentimental'-Heitor Villa-Lobos (arr. Barbosa-Lima)


The romantic serenade Melodia Sentimental (1957) was composed by Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) for the film Green Mansions. The melody describes lovers admiring the beauty of the moon in the rainforest of Venezuela. Villa-Lobos based his musical score on the screenplay and was deeply offended that only a few fragments, reorchestrated and reharmonised, were used in the released film.


Villa-Lobos used much of the discarded score in one of his last major works, Floresta do Amazonas. This arrangement for guitar, by Carlos Barbosa-Lima, conveys the haunting melody (often using soaring harmonics) above a timbrally rich harmonic palette.

‘La Cumparsita’-Gerardo Matos Rodríguez (arr. Azpiazu)


Eighteen-year-old Gerardo Matos Rodríguez (1897-1948) composed La Cumparsita (1916) while studying architecture in his native Uruguay. Rodríguez brought his carnival march to the pianist and musical director Roberto Firpo. Firpo immediately recognised the potential of the work, and used sections of two of his own works, La Gaucha Manuela and Curda Completes, to extend the piece. Rodríguez premiered the tango at the old Café La Giralda in Montevideo.

‘María Carolina’-Antonio Lauro


Antonio Lauro (1917-1986) was passionately proud of his native Venezuela’s musical heritage. His numerous works for the guitar are appealingly melodic, featuring phrases that alternate between wistful melancholy and virtuosic brilliance. Lauro’s Venezuelan waltzes are perhaps the most revered works from his stylistically diverse and extensive oeuvre.


Originally called Iliana, María Carolina is composed in ternary form.  Rhythmic elements are distinctly characterised by hemiola-derived two-against-three syncopation.  This work is named after Lauro’s granddaughter.

‘Yacambú’-Antonio Lauro


Yacambú is composed in rondo form and includes elements of polytonality, intriguing chromaticisms and unexpected harmonies.  This work is named after a river of outstanding natural beauty in western Venezuela.

‘Flor Amorosa’-Joaquim Callado (arr. Almada)


Joaquim Antonio da Silva Callado (1848-1880) composed Flor Amorosa (1873) as a tribute to the flower of his affection and the celebrated Brazilian music venue Clube das Flores. During his active career as a performer and composer Callado pioneered the improvisatory style of Brazilian music called chôro. Callado left a musical legacy for other instrumentalists, including Patápio Silva, Benedito Lacerda and Pixinguinha.

This work, now frequently sung with lyrics by Catulo da Paixão Cearense, was first arranged for flute, two guitars and a cavaquinho.

‘Flores Negras’-Carlos Ortíz (arr. Díaz)


Flores Negras is a celebrated work from the music halls of Ecuador by Carlos Amable Ortíz (1859-1937). Ortíz, a violinist and composer, wrote numerous works for the music halls of Quito. Inspired by dance forms, his pieces achieved popularity as music rolls for self-playing pianolas.


This masterful interpretation is by the virtuoso guitarist Alirio Díaz.

‘Milonga del Viento’-Jorge Morel


The contemplative Milonga del Viento features a poignant melody that soars over a syncopated 3+3+2 beat.  The Argentine milonga, a precursor to the tango, may be light-hearted in mood but often possesses, as here, a wistful introspection.


The Argentine guitarist and composer Jorge Morel (1931- ) lives in New York City. Morel’s compositions often combine the vibrancy of Latin America with daring jazz harmonies.  His virtuosic works for guitar are rooted in the colourful folk-music of Argentina, displaying sophisticated rhythmic energy and authentic melodic expression.

bottom of page