•  Abel Carlevaro (Opinion on Oratorio “Travesia”) 

My congratulations as well as applause for this work; it was the charm of creating a subtle atmosphere, full of poetry. I think that “Travesia” will have the full support of the public, and I hope that this is so. Your creative musical work and your performance on the guitar are excellent 


  • Paco de Lucía: (on “Travesía”)   
....I believe that this work will underscore the link between the Latinoamerican countries and Spain, through the guitar and its history. I back up this remark with my best wishes for the greatest success. 


  •  Steve Marsh. Classical Guitar Magazine, May 2002.  About the Cd Sueños de Argentina (dreams of Argentina). Dos Almas Music.
There are several publications on this programme, which I have had the pleasure to review in the past and so it is interesting to hear the actual author`s interpretation of them. 

The style of writing ranges from highly-charged, exciting and rhythmic dances to melancholic and moving works all played with confidence and panache from a player who`s inborn sense of rhythm takes this music up to another level from the printed page. Anyone studying the music of Jose Luis Merlin would do well to get hold of a copy of this recording as an aid in interpretation. 

The impressionistic "Insectos Pajaros y Nubes" (insects, birds and clouds) with its distinctly oriental flavor is dedicated to the Chinese guitarist Yang Xuefei and shows another side to this talented composer as do the five “Songs of Love” which are beautifully crafted works and deserving of more exposure. 

This is a very enjoyable recording, which not only shows Merlin to be a highly competent guitarist but also one who can write interesting and pleasurable music in various styles. 


  •  Mundo Latino (Madrid) January 1998 (referring to the recordings “Atardecer en la Cuesta Blanca” and “Tango Creciente”): 

These two discs by J.L.M. are without a doubt interpretations that will greatly please guitar aficionados. In the first piece, the compositions are by Astor Piazzolla and Atahualpa Yupanqui, with original works by Merlin himself; in the second piece, there are compositions by Merlin along with well-know themes like “Alfonsina y el mar”  by Ariel Ramirez, or tangos like “La Cumparsita”, “A Media Luz”, or “Caminito”, which take on new dimensions when played on the guitar. The first piece is played on the guitar by Merlin, while in the second he is accompanied at times on the flute by Debora Lewin and on the cello by Edith Saldaña. All the Argentina is revealed in the notes of this guitarist: urban life; the tango; traditional and rural life; the gaucho; the northeast, in the compositions of Atahualpa Yupanqui; the contemporary in the work of Piazzolla, and the same in the original compositions by Merlin. All this in a style that brings it closer to so-called classical MUSIC, which sometimes brings Ginastera to mind. Everyone who loves MUSIC should hear these recordings, “Music” in capital letters and without labels. 


  •   Treff Media Mark. Saarbrücken (Germany). 

José Luis Merlin: “Tango Creciente” (Shamrock Records). 

A Latin-American dream, an obligatory rendez-vous for all fans of guitar magic. The Argentine guitarist J.L. Merlin gives soul to the artistic melodies and rhythms of this southern country. Merlin, the magician of the strings. 


  •  "Classical Guitar."  August, 1997

CATEDRAL DE LOS PAJAROS for solo guitar by Jose Luis Merlin 

Tuscany PUBLICATIONS, Florida 2 pages. 

This is a thoroughly delightful piece. There is a brief arpeggio-style introduction which sets the pace for the main body of work, which is an attractive lyrical and rhythmic section featuring a steady repetitive bass line with a syncopated tune over it, the melody of which is quite infectious. I found myself humming this for days after playing through the piece. The arpeggio 'introduction' appears again for a finale. 

Although Catedral de Los Pajaros is intended to be played in a lively manner, it does sound nice at a slower tempo as well (as I discovered when first sight-reading through it). Playing this composition has made me want to play through other works by this composer - always a good sign. The standard required to perform this competently would be around. Grade 5. 

Highly recommended.

Steve Marsh 


DOS AIRES PAMPEANOS for guitar solo by Jose Luis Merlin 

Tuscany PUBLICATIONS. Florida. Four pages. 

The first of the pair, entitled Aire de Estilo, is in E minor and begins and ends with a pleasant sequence in arpeggiated chords. Sandwiched in between is a slow and lyrical rubato section. 

As a contrast to the first piece Aire de Milonga is a lively and rhythmical work with an introductory passage which sets the style and then once again, some pleasant melodies scattered throughout, sometimes in the bass and then in the treble. 

Altogether a most interesting, satisfying and entertaining piece of writing from a composer whose work am beginning to admire more and more. 

The grading is around the 5-6 level.

Steve Marsh 


  • Kieler Nachriten,Germany 

  Comprension simbiotica

What guitarist J.L.M. extracted from a simple guitar this Thursday evening was something outside all human comprehension. With a traditional guitar, he linked two cultures --the Argentine and the Spanish. An artist like J.L.M. needs no certificates of his mastery over the strings of his guitar, since the composer does more than simply dominate the instrument. It is a Kind of symbiosis. This symbiosis began in Buenos Aires at the age of 5. It is almost superfluous to mention that he gave his first concerts at the age of 9. Today, the child prodigy is 44 years old. The measure of sound of his guitar knows no limits. It is sometimes loud, when he plucks the strings to make them sound like drums. Then, in turn from this whirlwind of percussion comes a “cantus firmus”. In the next piece, J.L.M. reduces the spectrum to a lone, melancholic melody, while in the next second this melody is fully confident. The melody is divided into extremely intricate and rhythmic elements. Still, the melody is identifiable, attractive and rousing of the listener. 

Nor is  irony lacking in Merlin`s repertory, when different modes of expression are interspersed. 

Under Merlin`s touch, the well-known tango “La Cumparsita” is transformed into a new piece. 

This cultural beginning of the German-Iberian-American association was a success, as indicated not only by the faces of the listeners present that autumn evening. 



  •   Jorge de Ortúzar  (1996, El norte de Castilla, Segovia): 

...versatility and flow of sound.... mastery of technique and exquisite sensitivity of touch. 


  • Newspaper "La Prensa" (Opinion of Walter Duche on the Oratorio "TRAVESÍA"): 

“The coming together of delicate melodies that remind us of their Arabic and Sevillan origins and Caribbean and Latin American airs are magnificently synthesized in the work of Merlin. His playing shows a marvelous firmness on the guitar...” 


  •  Melchor Rodriguez (spanish guitarist and musicologist) 

  “José Luis Merlin is the poet of  guitar” 

  •   "El Nuevo Diario de San Juan" (Critique of the concert played with the Symphony of the Province of San Juan, Argentina).  "Fantasía para un Gentilhombre"  by Joaquín Rodrigo): 

  The fine playing of the guitarist J.L.M. merits our praise. His clean technique reminds us of Andrés Segovia... A memorable concert. 


  •    "El Argentino" (Miami): 

  An impeccable and virtuoso performance... Merlin truly does honor to Argentine MUSIC. 


  •   "De aquí y de allá" (Washington) : 

  Magical hands on J.L.M.`s instrument. Endless applause... he was sent off with the warm wishes of an audience that had heard a great performance by an excellent player. 


  • "La Opinión" (San Luis by Urbano J. Núñez): 


"The magic of Merlin" ... A memorable concert... an emotional homage and a fraternal expression of hope. If only we could see and hear him again¡ With his guitar, with simplicity and grace, he came via heavenly pathways. His profound message, full of tender feeling, became a cradle song, a lullaby hinting of eternity and hope... Like a bird announcing the dawn on the guitar of a magician, Merlin brought the star of Bethlehem down to himself. I saw it... 


  •   "Diario de San Luis": 

One of the most distinguished  guitarists in the country... 


  •  Luisa Grimberg: 

  Fine interpretation... high level of professionalism.

  • By Charles Atthill, Special to the Prospector
I can’t resist saying it:  Argentinean guitarist Jose Luis Merlin is a wizard. He is also a magician, by slight of hand performing wondrous feats of music. 
At the last concert of the ICS season, Merlin’s wizardry was apparent both as performer and composer, in a program entirely of his own compositions. 
Merlin dedicated the concert to the memory of Alex Johnson, son of local guitarist and composer Lou Johnson, who died at the age of 21 in February 2010, and opened with the premiere of “Oracion por Alex Johnson”, a poignant piece which spoke of Merlin’s personal sadness at the loss of his young friend.
The acoustic guitar is the perfect medium for evoking emotion and memory, nowhere more so than in the “Suite del Recuerdo” (Remembrance).
“Recuerdo” is one of Merlin’s most enduringly popular works. The six movements draw dramatically on Argentinean Musica Folklorica, capturing the rhythms and passion of his native country.  The pulsing Zampa, the rural tango of Chacarera, and the exhilarating Joropo contrasted delightfully with the pensive Evocacion.
Merlin plays a guitar by Spanish luthier Melchor Rodriguez, named “Merlin” for the sound he asked Rodriguez to create for him. His superb technique can shift in an instant from a fragile single-line theme to an ebullience of complex chords accompanying bravado multi-string flourishes.  The magician’s illusion is optical as well as auditory. How is it possible to create such variety of sound from six strings, five fingers of one hand (yes, the thumb too), and the plucking, strumming and drumming of the other? 
After last month’s Sierra Master Chorale performance of The Armed Man with nearly 100 performers, Merlin at first looked lonely on stage.  There is just his intent, black-clad, figure, and the single, but infinitely varying, source of his sound. But then he draws you in, defying distraction, to marvel at his musicality.
“Composing,” he said, in the preconcert forum, “is a magical process.” And his magical creativity flowed through the rest of the program. The suite “A Ricardo Bertin” embraced tinges of Bach, flamenco flourishes, soporific hints of a zither, and high energy tango.
“Sueno con Caballos” (Dream of Horses) is an affectionate love song, the middle movement dedicated to his own horse. If he plays like this to his horse, how does he serenade his wife?
It was a program to demonstrate Merlin’s breadth: impressions of sound (bells, birds), of mood (the delicious Kiss of the Moon), of occasion (the rustic wedding of Bailongo Campero), of horses galloping (the driving Milonga rhythms of Cruz del Sud), Merlin’s exuberant encore.
It was as though Merlin and his guitar were one, like a singer whose expressiveness does not have to be channeled through any instrument. It was an absorbing and pleasurable afternoon.

Charles Atthill lives in Alta Sierra.  He wishes he had learned the guitar.  It would have been easier to carry around than his piano.
  • Alfredo R. Figueroa (about Miami concert, abril 2002)

Rarely, in all the years I've been going to guitar concerts, I come out feeling so satisfied with the performance of the guitarist as I did last night.  
Jose Luis Merlin, Argentinean guitarist-composer performed last night at the U. of Miami a concert that will surely live in the memory of everybody that was there.
He presented works by Piazzolla and other composers, but the program was mostly his own works.(almost all are published)
Most of which are highly technical works abundant with Argentinean folkloric flavor and romantic passages that where a pleasure to listen to.
His compositions are fresh, very melodic, highly dynamic and above all, not the same overly played pieces that we are thrown at in every other concert I go to.

Mr. Merlin, Great concert... He is traveling today to New York and will be in concert next Friday in Troy; watch out Troy you're in for a great performance.

  • By Daniel Webster. FOR THE INQUIRER  (November 7th. 2000).
    A concert of guitar and remembrance by Jason Vieaux

No instrument can ennoble reminiscence better than the guitar. The classical guitar, that is. In the hands of a poet, the guitar revisits the past through curtains of color and emotion. Jason Vieaux reminded his listeners of the instrument's expressive shadings in a recital Sunday at Trinity Center for Urban Life, 2212 Spruce St. 
He began his program in the Astral Concert Series with the premiere of Sueño con Caballos by Argentinean composer Jose Luis Merlin. Dreams of Horses, the title says, and in this three-part work, the composer imagines a world of beauty and warmth heard through mists of glowing string sounds. 
The writing draws on many of the sonic effects possible with the guitar - high plucked single notes, metallic sounds from near the bridge - but above all, a softly glowing blend of strummed chords and highly articulate melodic writing. Concealed within this rich atmosphere were angular rhythms and some virtuoso flourishes that added to the sense of recollection without drawing attention to themselves. 
The composer's skill with the instrument made it seem artless and natural to create such an intense vision. Vieaux found the shadings within each section and shift in color to discover the coherence of the writing. The piece washed Latin rhythms and dances through the music, setting the place and style behind the coloristic result. 
Vieaux has been a promoter of this composer's music and clearly has an impressive new work to show.