Désirée Halac / Dalton Baldwin

Flores Argentinas: Canciones de Carlos Guastavino

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Flores Argentinas: Canciones de Carlos Guastavino Review

by James Manheim

The music of Carlos Guastavino, little known outside of his native Argentina, is on the upswing as performers and audiences explore Argentina's wide continuum of music between "classical" and "popular" poles. Although he wrote piano pieces and larger works, it is his songs that are most familiar. This disc, by New York-born, Argentina-raised mezzo-soprano Désirée Halac, makes a great starting point for those interested in hearing more of Guastavino's music. Halac has the rich, stage-sized voice to handle Guastavino's songs, which can stand more power than most contemporary art songs. Further, she isn't afraid of the popular rhythms in Guastavino's music, which touches on tango but is likelier to draw on the Argentine folk song types collectively known as creole. Halac is perfectly attuned to Guastavino's way of setting complex poetry by the likes of Jorge Luís Borges. Guastavino, a conservative (although who now can claim that the twentieth century composers who drew on popular styles weren't really the most progressive of all?), merged his Argentine influences with a harmonic language rooted above all in that of Fauré, but he had something of Schubert's uncanny way of finding a simple tune to complement an involved thought. Hear Se equivocó la paloma (The Dove Was Mistaken, track 4), to a text of romantic disorientation by the Spanish-Argentine poet Rafael Alberti; in Halac's hands it's nothing less than an unknown art song masterpiece. The one complaint here is the booklet, which simply reproduces an obituary of Guastavino from the London Guardian newspaper and contains no indication of how the songs included fit into the composer's career. Accompanist Dalton Baldwin works at a very high level of empathy with Halac's thinking.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:59 Amazon
2 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 04:21 Amazon
3 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:38 Amazon
4 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:13 Amazon
5 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:52 Amazon
6 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 03:53 Amazon
7 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:15 Amazon
8 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:32 Amazon
9 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:42 Amazon
10 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 03:18 Amazon
11 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 04:13 Amazon
12 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 03:33 Amazon
13 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:56 Amazon
14 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:38 Amazon
15 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:44 Amazon
16 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:06 Amazon
17 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 03:02 Amazon
Flores argentinas (12), song cycle for voice & piano
18 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:41 Amazon
19 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:11 Amazon
20 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:46 Amazon
21 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:21 Amazon
Cradle Songs (Canciones de cuna) (6) for voice & piano
22 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:25 Amazon
23 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:22 Amazon
24 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:54 Amazon
25 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:40 Amazon
26 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:05 Amazon
27 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:55 Amazon
Canciones argentinas (4), for voice & piano
28 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:46 Amazon
29 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:48 Amazon
30 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 02:32 Amazon
31 Dalton Baldwin / Désirée Halac 01:07 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick