Alejandro Fernández

Confidencias Reales: En Vivo Desde el Teatro Real

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In July of 2014, Alejandro Fernandez became the first Mexican pop singer to perform at Madrid's legendary Teatro Real. He took the stage with his stellar touring band, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, and a mariachi group (the latter a first at the Teatro). While the program is largely comprised of hits, these performances are not only savvy and diverse but are at times majestic. Fernandez gets right to it, delivering two killers in a row: the fingerpopping, nocturnal, jazzy swing of "Concavo y Convexo" and the anthemic pop rock of "Se Me Va La Voz," with its striking horn chart atop the languid guitars and keyboards. The ballads are just as striking. "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti," with its dramatic string chart, add dimension and texture to the passion in his voice. Likewise, "Te Quiero, Te Quiero" walks the line between bolero and pop, buoyed by the orchestra as Fernandez soars above. This version of "No Se Olvidar," originally from 1997's excellent Me Estoy Enamorando, is more stripped down. The progressive, largely acoustic arrangement walks the line between mariachi, nuevo cancion, and even groovy bossa nova, with lithe flutes, nylon-string guitars, and hand percussion. When mariachi is offered as convincingly as it is in "Hoy Decidi Olvidarte," the presence of strings enhances rather than blunts it. The root sounds of guitarron and brass shine right through. The closing version of Julio Iglesias' "Abrazame" is the most dynamic moment of all. A two-minute instrumental intro juxtaposes mariachi and bolero fueled by piano, trumpet, and lilting guitar. Fernandez digs deeply into the poetic lyric as the orchestra makes its way to his voice, creating a bridge to its emotional grain. As the mariachi band enters and prods them, they all come together in a dignified yet smoldering, swirling intensity. At the end, time, space, and architecture have been suspended. The theater has seemingly been transformed into a small, dimly lit room: here the protagonist entreats his beloved -- with whom he has been through many difficulties and joys -- to remain eternally. Fernandez's delivery is all depth, poetry, and sincerity; full of power and commitment. Confidencias Reales is graceful, elegant, and saturated with beauty throughout. While his longtime audience gets the hits done fantastically, even the modern listener can hear that Fernandez stretches himself to meet the bare truth inherent in the songs themselves. Over a two-decade-plus career, he has issued several inspiring live recordings, but this one achieves an entirely new level of excellence.

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