Arturo Chacón-Cruz

Le Canta a México

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It may be surprising, as one listens to this release of classic Mexican songs and imagine the dour cowboys who sang them first, to look at the graphics and see the comparatively boyish face of Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón. This entire production is redolent of the era of Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís, and it's hard to see how Chacón could have the chops, or the life experiences to pull it off. Yet he does. Really the most extraordinary performance here is delivered by producer Marisa Canales and engineer Luis René Cardenas Martínez, working in the Teatro de la Ciudad in the northern Mexican city of Hermosillo. It is beautifully evocative of the closely miked, closely walled studio sound of the classic Mexican recordings. The orchestral arrangements, by a variety of Mexican composers, are also elegantly done; several tracks incorporate something approximating the original mariachi setting into the orchestral texture. Also noteworthy is the work of the little-known Orquesta Filarmónica de Sonora under director Enrique Patrón de Rueda. The songs are all well-known Mexican numbers from about the 1920s through the 1950s, and they include the most famous one of all, Bésame mucho, whose female composer, Consuelo Velázquez, had never been kissed when she wrote it. Many of the others will give even casual listeners the feeling of having heard them somewhere. Chacón has the power for the operatic high notes of a piece like Juan Gabriel's De mí enamórate (track 9), but the real attraction of his singing is just his uncanny way of getting the rich, blazing yet slightly nasal sound of the great Mexican singers without specifically imitating any one of them. This album is, above all, a great deal of fun, and it's a must for anyone with a love of Mexican popular song.

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