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Viva el amor – Spanish Love Songs
Manuel de FALLA (1876–1946)
Siete Canciones Populares Españolas: El paño moruno [1:11] Seguidilla Murciana [1:17] Asturiana [2:13] Jota [3:01] Nana [1:28] Canción [1:07] Polo [1:24]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867–1916)
Seis Tonadillas: La maja de Goya [1:52] El tra la la y el punteado [1:02] La maja dolorosa [2:01] El majo timido [2:15] Amor y odio [0:52] El majo discreto [1:30]
Goyescas: La maja y el ruiseñor [4:58]
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901–1999)
Quattro Madrigales Amatorios: Con qué la lavaré? [1:44] Vos me matásteis [2:01]
De donde venis, amore? [1:05] De los Alamos vengo, madre [2:07]
Joaquin TURINA (1882–1949)
Tres Poemas, Op. 81: Olas gigantes [2:42] Tu pupila es azur [1:49] Besa el aura [2:02]
Fernando OBRADORS (1897–1945)
Quattro Canciones Clásicas Españolas: Con amores, la mi madre [1:16] Del cabello más sutil [0:51] El tumba y le [2:00] El vito [1:47]
Alberto GINASTERA (1916–1983)
Cinco Canciones Populares Argentinas: Chacarera [1:07] Triste [2:26] Zamba [0:55] Arrottó [1:48] Gato [2:05]
Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1912–2002)
Dos Canciónes Negras: Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito [2:09] Canto negro [1:09]
Carlos GARDEL (1887–1935)
El dia que me quieras [3:48]
Sebastian PIANA (1903–1994)
Milonga Sentimental [1:30]
Agustin LARA (1897–1970)
Granada [2:41]
Sivan Rotem (soprano)
Jonathan Zak (piano)
rec. September 2006, Clairmont Auditorium, Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, Yolanda & David Katz Faculty of Arts, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Texts and English translations included
ROMÉO RECORDS 7256 [55:28]

More correctly the title of this disc should have been “Love songs in Spanish”, since towards the end of the programme there are a number of songs by South American composers. It should however also be pointed out that Ginastera, although born in Buenos Aires, was the son of Italian and Catalonian immigrants. Sebastian Piana, also born in the Argentinean capital, also had Italian parents. Certainly Agustin Lara was Mexican but he received a house in Granada from Francesco Franco for his songs celebrating Spanish cities. This leaves Carlos Gardel. His bith country is uncertain (France or Uruguay) but was raised in Argentina and became the most celebrated composer and singer of Tango music.
The singer on this disc, Sivan Rotem, was also born in Buenos Aires but is now a citizen of Israel, where she is one of the leading singers. She has also appeared in concert and opera throughout Europe, America and Australia.
She and her excellent Israeli pianist Jonathan Zak have put together an attractive programme with some well-known war-horses. Mixed in we also get some less often heard but splendid songs that will probably be valuable additions to some collections. Among the former are Manuel de Falla’s “Seven Popular Spanish Songs” as they are translated here. This should really be “Seven Folk Songs” or “Songs of the People”. There are also the Tonadillas by Granados and Rodrigo’s charming “Four Madrigals on Love”. I believe that there are many readers who, like myself, also appreciate Montsalvatge’s Canciones Negras. My only regret is that not all five of them were included.
Of the less well-known songs Turina’s Tres Poemas stand out on account of their dramatic intensity, dark and bold harmonic landscape and elaborate accompaniment. Obradors’ songs are wholly delightful and Ginastera’s five songs are little gems in a surprisingly accessible vein, considering how abrasive some of his orchestral music can be.
Down the years this repertoire has been sung by some of the most celebrated Spanish singers: Conchita Supervia, Victoria de los Angeles, Montserrat Caballé and Teresa Berganza, joined in later years by Maria Bayo. Competition is keen. Sivan Rotem may not drive her predecessors out of competition but she performs the songs in her distinctive way and has a lot to offer. Clearly she has put much study and reflection into these songs. Her readings are wholly idiomatic. She has a warm vibrant voice with plenty of dramatic potential evident in the Turina songs. Rodrigo’s De los Alamos vengo, madre are sung with a captivating lilt. Her soft singing is exquisite, Ginastera’s Triste and Montsalvatge’s delightful offering some of the best interpretations on the disc. I was initially worried by a certain metallic hardness to the tone at forte and a widening of vibrato that at climaxes came close to a beat. It may be that the hardness is a result of her voice not taking too well to the microphones. Anyway when I replayed some of the songs that worried me most I was fully satisfied. Even my wife, who is very sensitive to excessive vibrato, had no complaints. On the contrary the more I listened the more I appreciated the liveliness in the light-hearted songs and the thrill of her climaxes. The aria from Goyescas shows her deep involvement and Obradors’ El tumba y le shows her in high spirits. This song would make a good encore.
The real encores here are also enticing. Gardel’s El dia qué me quieras – one of his last compositions before he died in a plane crash – is sung with intimacy and beauty. Piana’s Milonga Sentimental is lively and charming. Granada, sung for the first time, as far as I can recall, by a woman is less showy and has the quality of a declaration of love to the city.
Sivan Rotem’s disc may not have displaced recordings by her elders but she has a distinct voice of her own and the repertoire is highly attractive.
Göran Forsling


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