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Manuel Barrueco is “an elegant musician and aristocrat of the guitar.” —Los Angeles Times

The Beijing Guitar Duo “fuses technical skill effortlessly with their depth of musicality.” —Classical Guitar Magazine

Manuel Barrueco, guitar
Beijing Guitar Duo
     Meng Su
     Yameng Wang

DIABELLI: Trio in F major, Op. 62
TORROBA: Estampas
DUN: Eight Memories in Watercolor (trans. Barrueco, New York premiere)
SIERRA: Sonata New York premiere
ASSAD: The Enchanted Island New York premiere
PIAZZOLLA: Fuga y Misterio

This concert is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes in duration.


Pre-concert talk at 7 pm with Benjamin Verdery of Yale University.


Art of the Guitar and 92nd Street Y Guitar Institute are generously supported by The Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir; The Augustine Foundation; and The D’Addario Music Foundation.

Beijing Guitar Duo
TAN DUN: Eight Memories in Watercolor – “Sunrain”
(Tonar Music)

Manuel Barrueco
PIAZZOLLA: Invierno Porteño
(Tonar Music)


Explore The Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

DIABELLI: Trio in F major, Op. 62


Born Mattsee, Austria, September 5, 1781; died Vienna, April 7, 1858
Trio in F major, Op. 62
Date of composition unknown; 12 minutes

Though a gifted and prolific composer—particularly of piano and guitar music for the domestic market—Diabelli is best known today for a piece he did not write, Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations, Op. 120. Diabelli was a very important music publisher and in 1819 he came up with the idea for a book of variations by Austrian composers (and a few non-Austrians) on a little waltz tune that he wrote for the purpose. The 51 respondents to his proposal included Schubert (Diabelli was an early champion of Schubert), Mozart’s son Franz Xavier, the Archduke Rudolph (Beethoven’s pupil and patron) and the eight-year-old Liszt. Beethoven supplied 33 variations on the tune, which became one of the monuments of the piano literature and the first book of what Diabelli called Vaterländischer Künstlerverein (Patriotic Artists Association), with the other 50 individual variations published as part two.

Diabelli wrote over 600 pieces for guitar, as a solo instrument and in various combinations. The F-major Trio, Op. 62, is characteristic of his lyrical grace. Scored with a capo at the fifth fret for the first guitar (mimicking a terz guitar) and at the third fret for the second guitar, it opens with an elegantly solemn Adagio before embarking on an extroverted Allegro moderato. A rather march-like Menuetto, with a harmonically venturesome Trio section, and a blithe Rondo, with dramatic episodes and a bravura coda, follow.

© 2013 John Henken

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Born Madrid, March 3, 1891; died Madrid, September 12, 1982
Composed in 1979; 15 minutes

Born in Madrid, Moreno Torroba studied first with his organist father and later at the Royal Conservatory with the composer Conrado del Campo. In the 1920s he established himself as a composer for both the theater and the concert hall. He wrote successful zarzuelas and, through his friendship with Andrés Segovia, significant pieces for the guitar.

As the popularity of zarzuela declined in the 1960s and ‘70s, Moreno Torroba concentrated even more on the guitar. Inspired by the Romeros and Britain’s Omega Guitar Quartet—one of the earliest groups to follow in the Romero family’s footsteps—he composed four guitar quartets, a quintet and even a concerto for four guitars and orchestra—the Concierto ibérico—which the Romeros premiered in 1977.

Estampas (Prints) is a set of eight musical scenes dating from 1979. Moreno Torroba’s firmly planted roots in Spanish folk and art music, and the flair for characterization that was well-honed in his zarzuelas, are much apparent in these charming miniatures. “Bailando un fandango charro” (“Dancing a Rustic Fandango”) is self-descriptive. “Remanso” conjures a quiet backwater river pool as a liquid reverie. “La siega” (“The Harvest”) quotes a Spanish folk tune with nostalgic warmth, and the moods of the “Fiesta en el pueblo” are as varied as the sights and sounds of such civic celebrations. “Amancer” (“Dawn”) rises into light with a chiming and haunted expectancy, and “La boda” (“The Wedding”) conveys dancing and joyful excitement. A stern, toiling march “Camino del molino” (“The Mill Road”) and the volatile, hyperactive “Juegos infantiles” (“Children’s Games”) complete the set. Manuel Barrueco and the Beijing Guitar Duo have adapted it for guitar trio.

© 2013 John Henken

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DUN: Eight Memories in Watercolor (trans. Barrueco, New York premiere)


Born Si Mao, Hunan (China) August 15, 1957
Eight Memories in Watercolor (trans. Barrueco, New York premiere)
Composed in 1978; 15 minutes

In 1978 Tan Dun was a student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and almost a generation away from the music that would make him internationally famous, such as the Grammy-winning score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Water Passion After St. Matthew. He was already on his highly personal path to a polystylistic, global fusion, however. He had learned to play traditional string instruments from the peasants in the village where he worked on a communal government rice plantation, joining a government-sponsored touring company after a ferry accident near the commune killed several of the company’s musicians.

From that point he was able to go the Central Conservatory, where he studied with Tōru Takemitsu, among others. His first opus there was the Eight Memories in Watercolor (composed, it will be noticed, a year before—and a world apart from—Moreno Torroba’s Estampas).

"The Cultural Revolution had just ended, China just opened its doors, I was immersed in studying Western classical and modern music, but I was also homesick,” Dun writes. “I longed for the folksongs and savored the memories of my childhood. Therefore, I wrote my first piano work as a diary of longing."

As the title indicates, he cast these memories into eight short movements. Half of them—Staccato Beans, Herdboy’s Song, Blue Nun and Sunrain—are based on some of his favorite childhood folksongs, the others have original tunes. Although the music was choreographed, it had been performed only in part in recitals before Tan Dun met pianist Lang Lang in 2001. The composer revised it for Lang Lang, who gave the premiere of the complete work in 2003. Manuel Barrueco made this idiomatic arrangement—with bent strings and sliding glissandos not possible on the piano—for the Beijing Guitar Duo, which has recorded it for Tonar Music, the exclusive record label of both Mr. Barrueco and the Duo.

© 2013 John Henken

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SIERRA: Sonata (New York premiere)


Born Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, October 9, 1953
Sonata (New York premiere)
Composed during 2007–2010; 17 minutes

The guitar has figured prominently in the work of Roberto Sierra—not surprising, perhaps, for a composer of strong vernacular sympathies and a keen interest in revitalizing traditional models and styles. He has composed five pieces for guitar and orchestra, chamber music featuring the instrument and several solo works. Manuel Barrueco has recorded two of his guitar concertos, Folias and Concierto Barroco, and is the dedicatee of Sierra’s Guitar Sonata, which he premiered at the Pablo Casals Festival in San Juan in March 2011.

Sierra calls his fusion of European modernism and Latin American folk elements “troplicalization,” and both Sierra’s classicizing instincts and his musical street smarts are abundantly evident in this sonata. 
At its essence, here is Mr. Sierra’s own analysis of his work:

The first movement of the sonata follows the traditional structure of expositionsdevelopment–recapitulation.  Although the harmonies are not tonal, a strong sense of E permeates the whole work; each movement clearly ends and gravitates towards this note. The second movement is built on a simple passacaglia motive that builds to a climax, ending in the quiet manner in which it started. A wild scherzo precedes the final movement, based on Caribbean inspired rhythms.

As Mr. Sierra notes, the first movement is in a sonata form inherited from classical central European models, down to the repeated exposition. But the harmonies are spiky, the rhythms frenetic and the spirit decidedly rambunctious.

The slow movement provides a lyrical contrast: “almost religious,” Sierra has marked it. But it grows powerfully as an intense passacaglia, a set of free, continuous variations under, over and around, ultimately blasts through a repeated melody.

All of the movements share and vary motivic material that is amenable to broad variation. The Scherzando presents two divergent takes on interval patterns, one soft but metrically implacable, the other a loud and impulsive interruption that has the final word, its intervals now emphatic octaves.

In its summation and sublimation of all that has come before, the concluding Salseado (“salsafied,” more or less) doubles down on the rhythmic games. A vigorously articulated form—call it a toccata rondo—it tweaks and twits multiple classical and traditional references with exuberant joy and great technical exercise.

© 2013 John Henken

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S. ASSAD: The Enchanted Island (New York premiere)


Born Mococa (São Paulo), Brazil, December 26, 1952
The Enchanted Island (New York premiere)
Composed in 2009; 8 minutes

Sérgio Assad was led by his father, a mandolinist, in his initial musical explorations. He, and his younger brother Odair, studied guitar with Monina Tavora (a disciple of Andrés Segovia). They made their international debut in New York in 1969 as teenagers. Since then, Sérgio has also composed and arranged widely, most particularly for the brothers’ seemingly instinctive medium of the guitar duo but increasingly for a wider range of admiring performers.

The Enchanted Island was written for Manuel Barrueco and the Beijing Guitar Duo and reflects the cultural heritages of the trio. The composer’s inspiration came from a visit to Havana’s Barrio Chino, one of the oldest Chinatowns in Latin America. “The idea of Asian communities living in tropical places like Havana and São Paulo inspired me to write this piece for three guitars,” Assad says. “To represent the mixing of such different musical cultures, I used Asian hemitonic and anhemitonic pentatonic scales merged with Afro-Cuban rhythms. The piece ends with a ‘santeria’ ritual. Santeria is a religion of common practice in Cuba that merges the worship of the Yoruba deities with the veneration of Roman Catholic saints."

© 2013 John Henken

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Born Mar del Plata, Argentina, March 11, 1921; died Buenos Aires, July 4, 1992
Composed in 1974; 6 minutes
Fuga y Misterio
Composed in 1968; 4 minutes
Composed in 1963; 4 minutes

Fiercely competitive and driven to excel in everything he did—“I have always been restless about getting better,” is how he put it—Piazzolla began expanding his artistic reach in new directions as soon as he had an ensemble of his own. He studied composition with Alberto Ginastera in Buenos Aires and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, piano with Raúl Spivak and conducting with Hermann Scherchen.

It was Boulanger who made him see that the tango was at the center of all he was artistically, and after he returned from Paris in 1955, tango was the animating spirit of everything he did, including what he called his “erudite music.” Piazzolla’s edgy new tango mixed contrapuntal tensions with savagely stressed dance beats, and sentimental luxuriance with stark, obsessive abstraction.

As so many of his tangos, L’Évasion (also recorded by Piazzolla as La evasión) is in A-B-A song form, menacing macho drive in the outer sections surrounding a brooding, nostalgically haunted core. The Fuga y Misterio is an instrumental excerpt from his “operita” (little opera) María de Buenos Aires, a bracingly athletic four-voice tango fugue with an ethereal coda. Also in A-B-A form, Revirado has a jaunty outer section, uncommonly blithe for Piazzolla, but with all the expected lyrical longing in the middle.

© 2013 John Henken

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Artist Bios

Manuel Barrueco

Grammy Award-nominated Manuel Barrueco is internationally recognized as one of the most important guitarists of our time, possessing a seductive sound and uncommon lyrical gifts.

During a career spanning three decades, Mr. Barrueco has concertizing around the world. In the US, Mr. Barrueco has performed with such prestigious orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and the Baltimore, New World and Seattle symphonies. Under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, he joined the Boston Symphony for the American premiere of Tōru Takemitsu’s To the Edge of Dream. He has also appeared at New York’s Lincoln Center and with San Francisco Performances.

Mr. Barrueco’s international tours have taken him to some of the most important musical centers in the world. Highlights include the Royal Albert Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Berlin, Teatro Real in Madrid, and Palau de la Música in Barcelona. In Asia he has made nearly a dozen tours of Japan and repeated appearances in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Last October, Mr. Barrueco made his first tour of China, giving recitals in Shanghai and Chengdu. His 2012/13 season also includes solo recitals in the US, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Poland and Russia, and concerto appearances with the Brazilian, Dallas, New World and Tenerife symphonies. Next month he will conclude a season-long tenure as artist-in-residence for the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico, and in May he will enter a week-long residence at the University of Alicante in Spain.

Mr. Barrueco’s recording of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with Plácido Domingo and the Philharmonia Orchestra was cited as the best recording of that piece in Classic CD magazine. In 2011, his recording iTÁRREGA! for Tonar Music received a Latin Grammy nomination for best classical album, and in 2007 he received a Grammy nomination for best instrumental soloist performance for his Solo Piazzolla. Last year Tonar rereleased his acclaimed 1997 Bach Sonatas disc from EMI in March, and released a new album, Chaconne—A Baroque Ensemble, in October.

Manuel Barrueco began playing the guitar at the age of eight, and he attended the Esteban Salas Conservatory in his native Cuba. He immigrated with his family to the US in 1967 as political refugees. Later he completed his advanced studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he now teaches a small number of exceptionally gifted young guitarists from all over the world. His website is

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The Beijing Guitar Duo

The Beijing Guitar Duo is composed of Meng Su and Yameng Wang, who met at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, where they both studied with Chen Zhi. In 2006, the year of their graduation, they met Manuel Barrueco while he was on tour in Hong Kong. At his personal invitation, they applied and were accepted to the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where they continued their studies with Mr. Barrueco. At his recommendation, they formed their duo.

Each young woman came to the partnership with exceptional credentials, including a string of competition awards. Both were born in the coastal city of Qingdao, in the province of Shandong. Ms. Su’s honors included victories at the Vienna Youth Guitar Competition and Christopher Parkening Young Guitarist Competition, while Ms. Wang was the youngest winner of the Tokyo International Guitar Competition at the age of 12 and had been invited by Radio France to perform at the Paris International Guitar Art Week at age 14. Both young artists had also given solo recitals at home and abroad and made solo recordings before they formed the Duo.

Among its first achievements, the Duo received the Solomon H. Snyder Award, which underwrites the New York debut of distinctive Peabody guitar students. As a result, the Duo made its New York debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in April 2009 to critical acclaim. This past season took the Duo to countries such as Holland, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Croatia, China and the US. Next month it appears on the prestigious San Francisco Performances series. In addition to tonight’s performance, the Duo has toured extensively with its mentor Manuel Barueco, appearing in such countries as Germany and Finland as well as the US

In 2009 the Beijing Guitar Duo released its debut recording, Maracaípe, for Tonar, its exclusive label. The title song, written and dedicated to them by Sérgio Assad, received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for best contemporary classical composition. Its second recording, titled Bach to Dun, was released in October 2011. The recital CD featured music of Scarlatti, Bach, Tedesco and Granados along with Tan Dun’s Eight Memories in Watercolor in the world premiere recording of an arrangement for two guitars. Future projects include a trio recording with Mr. Barrueco and the duo’s third album. Its website is

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