Formed in 1956 by harpist, Osvaldo Ganoa, Los Comuneros de Paraguay were one of the more successful conjuntos de arpa that came out of Paraguay in the mid-twentieth century. They toured extensively throughout Latin America and enjoyed a substantial degree of international notoriety, as evidenced by this El Salvadorian pressing of their recordings of Anahí and Regalo de Amor. While they were somewhat adept at performing various Latin American genres, the two pieces featured here highlight their skill and grace in performing the ritmo guaranía of their native Paraguay.
Formed during the military dictatorship of Stroessner and baring the namesake of an early 18th century anti-colonial movement, Los Comuneros de Paraguay contributed to the nationalist fervor of the period with recordings such as these two. Anahí recounts the myth of a Guaraní princess, famous for her exquisite singing voice, who was taken captive by Spanish colonizers. She escapes, murdering a sentinel in the process, only to be recaptured and subsequently executed by being tied to a Ceibo tree and burned alive. As the flames engulf her, she transforms into the bright red flowers of the tree. The piece was written in the 1940’s by Argentine composer, Osvaldo Sosa Cordero, as commissioned by the Minister of Education for the declaration of the Ceibo flower as the national flower of Argentina. Regalo de Amor is a beautiful dedication of love composed by Paraguayan composer, Maurico Cardozo Ocampo, who dedicated himself to the preservation of the Paraguayan culture. The piece is sung in Spanish and Guaraní, both official languages of Paraguay, with the latter being the only such distinction of an indigenous language in Latin America that I know of.
Both tracks feature the angelic voice of Nair, the lead vocalist of the conjunto who only went by her first name, and the understated harp of Ganoa, which interplays beautifully with an unknown pianist. The lilting guaranía rhythm evokes sentiments of love and forlornness, giving both pieces an endearing and haunting quality. I get chills! Enjoy!
– Marcos Juarez
You can check out my homeboy Marcos Juarez on KALX radio station each Thursday from 12:30 to 3:00 pm for the finest in Latin American music. Trying to get Marcos to be a regular contributor to Super Sonido so please bother him here and tell him to do so. The guy has a totally different approach to the Latin American music that he collects, from Latin funk to that more traditional/indigenous sound you’re hearing now. Thanks Marcos – first music from Paraguay I’ve had on this site and I couldn’t be happier.
– Sonido Franko