Bridge's collection of Spanish love songs is taken from a live performance of the New York Festival of Song at the 2004 Caramoor Festival, featuring Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, tenor Joseph Kaiser, and pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett. The CD includes not only songs in Spanish or by Spanish composers, but songs with Spanish subject matter or character, by Spanish, Catalan, French, German, and American composers. The quality of the recorded sound reflects the circumstances of the performance -- the recording sounds like it was made to be an archival document, without the intent of a commercial release. The voices and piano are always clearly audible, but the sound is shallow and dry. Nonetheless, it's easy to tell that these are some extraordinary performances.
Hunt Lieberson sings with her characteristic warmth, velvety tone, and penetrating insight into the meaning of the texts. Each of her performances is lustrous and moving, but "Komm, O Tod, von Nacht ungeben," from Wolf's Spanisches Liederbuch and Granados' "El mirar de la maja" especially stand out. Joseph Kaiser performs admirably, with musicality and conviction, but the quality of his voice and the depth of interpretations are not in same league as Hunt Lieberson's, and consequently the album feels unbalanced. In their duets, somehow, the discrepancy seems less pronounced, and Chabrier's tangy, vivacious España and Yradier's languid and familiar La paloma are among the album's highlights. Pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett tremendously add to the spirited performances with the flair of their accompaniments. Any fans of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson will want to hear her shining in this unusual repertoire.