Alirio Diaz ‘Fantasia De Mudarra’ Review

One minute and forty-five seconds of the most elegant, precise, evocative guitar playing you will ever hear in your life. Sounds like it might have been studied by Mason Williams before he composed and recorded “Classical Gas”. This is not to take anything away from Mason, as his hit in 1968 did a great deal to popularize the classical guitar, and his work is the most played pop instrumental ever. But even he admitted that he derived “Classical Gas” from at least three compositions, and I believe Mudarra‘s was the primary one; it has the same infectious optimism and a very similar hook.

“Fantasia De Mudarra” was composed in 1546. It‘s proof, if you ever needed any, that life was anything but somber back then. The 16th century was as complex, as delightful, and as rewarding as the present, maybe more so.

And Alirio Diaz? – probably the greatest “unknown” guitarist you‘ll ever come across. “The Prince of the Guitar”, he was celebrated internationally for his tonal purity and lauded as a brilliant student who exceeded his master, Andres Segovia. Diaz was born in Venezuela in 1923, studied in Madrid and Siena, and continues to play in public to this day (2015). He is ninety-one years of age and is revered by classical guitarists the world over.

The 20th century has been called the century of the guitar and it‘s probably the instrument you‘ve heard more often than any other. But familiarity often leads to mediocrity – Alirio Diaz is the exception that proves the rule. If you don‘t know what truly magnificent guitar playing sounds like, it might be time you found out. You may never be the same again. His music changed me. He is a thunderbolt of virtuosic genius.