Sylvia Schwartz and Malcolm Martineau: "Canciones Españolas"
Texts and translations. Hyperion CDA67954
In this thrilling debut recording, Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz showcases songs by compatriots Enrique Granados, Jesús Guridi, Joaquín Turina, Eduardo Toldrà and Xavier Montsalvatge. Her flexible, luxuriant voice encompasses an ample expressive range, from shimmering attenuated pianissimos to passionate, full-throated exhortations, but it is the way Schwartz inhabits this music like a second skin that makes this recording a must-have. She tastes every word with deliciously rolled rs and a delicate Castilian lisp; not even the smallest article slips by without her fullest attention. She opens with a fervid rendition of "La maja y el ruiseñor," from Granados's opera Goyescas, followed by nine entries from his Tonadillas en Estilo Antiguo. She wisely chooses several in a playful vein before returning to a darker color with the soulful lamentations of La Maja Dolorosa, a self-contained set of three songs within the larger cycle.
Guridi's Seis Canciones Castellanas, based on Castilian folk melodies, opens with the hauntingly inviting "Allá arriba, en aquella montaña." Schwartz uses her melismas to call flirtatiously to the toreador in "Llámale con el pañuelo, and in "No quiero tus avellanas," she rejects her lover's meaningless offerings with a stoic stillness. "Mañanita de San Juan," with its impressionistic harmonies and floating melody, is enchanting; the delicacy of Schwartz's delivery on the last line, "y la musica resuena en lo profundo del mar" (and music resounds from the depths of the sea), is breathtaking. Turina's Tres Poemas are by turns earthy and operatic, both pages in Schwartz's playbook, although occasional top notes turn strident. Toldrà's two brief odes to spring in Catalan, "Abril" and "Maig," are rapturous in different ways; April is depicted in a fresh burst of energy, while May is reverent and full of wonder. Montsalvatge's tasty Cinco Canciones Negras could hardly be in better hands. "Cuba dentro de un piano" is a passionate recollection of Cuba lost, ended with a hair-raising, acid cry of "Yes!" "Punto de habanera" is saucy, "Canción de cuna para dormi'r a un negrito" is as gentle as a kiss, and the percussive patter "Canto negro" is expertly delivered. Malcolm Martineau is a superb partner, matching Schwartz's every nuance with a sensitive touch.
JOANNE SYDNEY LESSNER
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