Juan Diego Flórez

Sentimiento Latino

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This is a nice change of pace from the crossover discs often released by young operatic sensations. Sentimiento Latino offers appealing romantic songs in Spanish that anyone can enjoy (although, at least on the U.S. release, translations are into English only). But they're not done-to-death chestnuts. Rather, the Peruvian tenor has picked Latin American standards from the first half of the twentieth century -- music his grandparents might have known. A few, like Siboney and México lindo, are well known internationally, but others, including several by Peruvian singer and songwriter Chabuca Granda, are less familiar. (Check out her Fina estampa, track 10, for a delightful number in which Flórez feels completely at home.) Flórez reins in his powerful voice so as not to overwhelm the modest dimensions of these songs or his accompaniment by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, augmented as needed by a mariachi band, a tango bandoneón player, a guitarist, and other instrumentalists from indigenous Latin traditions. His famed high notes are perhaps all the more thrilling to hear in this restricted context, for he slides into them with a remarkable, understated smoothness. There are a few numbers to which Flórez doesn't quite make a connection -- Agustín Lara's Granada seems composed of unrelated sections in his performance. In general, though, this is a superior crossover disc for anyone who likes Flórez or the good old days of Latin American song.

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