Asociación Coral Lagun Onak / Zamba Quipildor

Ariel Ramirez: Misa Criolla

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The Misa criolla of Ariel Ramirez, written in 1964, is a unique, joyous folkloric mass, fusing choral settings of the mass text (in Spanish, which was hot off the presses in 1964) with rural Argentine rhythms, percussion, and a small quartet of Argentine-Andean instruments. There is also a keyboard part. This 1991 recording was the work's third and perhaps best. The original recording, made shortly after the work's composition, was an international bestseller. It used a harpsichord on the keyboard part, which complemented the Andean stringed instruments in an appealing way. The present recording uses a piano, which is preferable -- seven of Ramirez's semi-popular songs are included on this disc, and they treat the piano in much the same way the mass does. The little songs are wonderful examples of what Argentines call "creole" music -- popular songs in a pre-tango styles, influenced by indigenous rhtyhms. They make clear the nature of Ramirez's connection to Argentine popular styles, and that alone gives this disc the edge over its competitors.

Another major point in the disc's favor is the work of solo tenor Zamba Quipildor, an Argentine vocalist whom Ramirez himself preferred for performances of the work. His voice combines trained concert qualities with an Argentine popular sound, and its warm, festive tone fits the work perfectly; the recording of the Misa criolla by José Carreras tends to overwhelm this rather gentle work, but Quipildor seems organically connected to the rest of the music. The enthusiasm of the Asociación Coral Lagun Onak is contagious. If you've never heard the Misa criolla, the best way to encounter it is in a Latino Catholic church, where children may come down the aisles and throw paper flowers into the audience as Argentine rhythms and harmonies (which are profoundly happy even though in minor tonality) explode into the air around you. The second-best way is to put this disc on the stereo.

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