Recordings > Choral and Song

L'Arpeggiata: "Los Pájaros Perdidos: The South American Project"

spacer With Mancini, Galeazzi; Jaroussky, Capezzuto; Pluhar. Spanish texts and English translations. Virgin Classics 50999 0709502 3

PajarosCD

The concerts presented by L'Arpeggiata, the hip, international early-music ensemble, are fun happenings full of musical flair, dramatic surprises and improvisatory verve. A new recording, Los Pájaros Perdidos: The South American Project, links seventeenth-century dance music with contemporary polos, zambas, fandangos and boleros in a colorful jamboree of plucked instruments and solo singers.

Any one of these pieces might have served as an entertaining encore to a Spanish concert, letting the performers, especially the talented cornetto player Doron Sherwin, branch out. As an entire recital, though, the novelty quickly wears thin, and the "project" part of the title shows how contrived and forced this enterprise actually is. (Musicological program notes including footnotes offer another clue.)

There's nothing wrong with crossing over, branching out or musical miscegenation. But for early-music fans this disc is just a cute oddity, and to lovers of South American dance it will sound pale and forced. Too many pieces sound alike, with harp introductions (the instrument of Christina Pluhar, the group's director), thin psaltery licks from Ye Olde Renaissance Faire and a final gentle rustling from the rain stick. Drum circle, anyone?

French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky headlines, and he takes on the sweet, gentle numbers suitable to his lyrical approach, with some crooning and scooping to ward off formality. Vincenzo Capezzuto shows more range, with the torchy "Zamba para no morir," the breezy "La cocoroba" and "Como un pájaro libre," a new song grafted onto a piece by seventeenth-century composer Tarquinio Merula.

Luciana Mancini's expressive voice and rhythmic freedom define "Polo margariteño," another piece with seventeenth-century underpinnings, and Mancini and Capezzuto join forces for the rapid-fire joropo "El curruchá," the disc's strongest offering. Lucilla Galeazzi's wistful take on "Alfonsina y el mar" is another highlight. spacer 

JUDITH MALAFRONTE

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Current Issue: August 2014 — VOL. 79, NO. 2