• chrisdumigan

Alfonso Montes :Sonata de Angostura

Updated: Apr 17



Alfonso Montes

Doberman – Yppan: 20 pages


Alfonso Montes and his wife Irina Kircher are two of the most respected performers on the guitar today, and many will be aware of their wonderful duo Montes- Richer, that have been playing since 1983. Venezuelan – born Montes has here written a four – movement Sonata based around the area where he was born, and the music that is popular there.

The opening Registro is literally where musicians warm up on their instrument, playing various arpeggios and other popular finger exercises to prepare for their first real piece. So here, the Registro is a fast widely spaced group of four notes spread over a 6/8 bar in quaver arpeggios. The pattern is an interesting one and not quite as obvious as you might first think. Set in Bm, this five page, 154 bar opener never deviates from the opening pattern and yet Montes manages to make this interesting and not too repetitive, owing to the clever way he harmonizes the various arpeggios.

Aguinaldo, a Christmas song is next, and common to this style the time signature is 5/8, at a quaver speed of 240 per minute, which is quite a speed! The style of writing is again an arpeggio that migrates slightly in the middle to include some separate parts for melody bass, and accompaniment, but it largely remains the arpeggio that is being played.

The Bolero, is the slowest movement here, and is apparently a love song which explains the slight rubato feel, and the heightened emotional content, without losing the necessity to keep the dance element going

The final Merengue, is again in 5/8 but very energetic and at 350 quavers a minute, a really fast pace .Mostly in two voices throughout, it is again arpeggio – driven for the greater majority of it and never relaxes for even one bar until reaching an effective climax, and a final coda marked senza rallentando, so that the music dashes headlong to its final arpeggiated harmonic – note chord in a very effective way.

This Sonata (although it is more a Suite than a Sonata) is very effective, lots of fun musically, and does need a good technique to be able to cope with it. Any interested parties can find Montes‘s wife Irina, perform the entire set on YouTube.


Chris Dumigan

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