Video Pick of the Week: Andrew Blanch Plays Alirio Díaz’s Arrangement of Ignacio Figueredo’s ‘Los Caujaritos’

I first heard Australian classical guitarist Andrew Blanch in 2016, on his excellent album Spanish Guitar Music, on which he deftly covered selections from de Falla, Tárrega, Castelnuovo-Tedesco (OK, not Spanish but his Caprichos de Goya, three of which are on the album, sure are), Albéniz, Llobet, Turina, and Scarlatti (another Italian!). In 2016 I also saw him perform at the Biasini Competition in San Francisco (where he was one of three finalists); very impressive!

This video, courtesy of Open Strings Berlin, was shot on a sunny summer day in 2018 at Mauerpark in Berlin. Andrew plays a wonderfully buoyant and energetic piece called Los Caujaritos by Ignacio ‘El Indio’ Figueredo (1899–1995), a Venezuelan harpist and composer of considerable renown in the South American folk music world. He was a master of the arpa llanera and author of more than 400 compositions. His countryman Alirio Díaz made guitar transcriptions of numerous llanera compositions (by Figueredo and others), including this one, and though I couldn’t track down an album by Díaz that contained Los Caujaritos, I did find it on a 1975 album by Figueredo called Sus Mejores Canciones. My (occasionally trustworthy) “Google translate” tells me that “Los Caujaritos” translates to English as “Little Rubber bands,” so I’m going to go way out on a very shaky limb and suggest that perhaps the title is an allusion to the strings on the Venezuelan harp (which are decidedly not made of rubber; we’re being poetic here, folks. Feel free to shoot down my theory!).

Besides Díaz’s championing of Figueredo, the major reason this piece has migrated into popular classical-guitar literature is because John Williams recorded the work on his fantastic and influential 2003 album El Diablo Suelto: Guitar Music of Venezuela, which, with one exception, consists entirely of guitar transcriptions by Díaz. In fact, Los Caujaritos opens the album, which also contains a second work by the composer, Priva Resuello.  —Blair Jackson

Ignacio ‘El Indio’ Figueredo