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Habanera / Elina Garanca


Release Date: 10/25/2010 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001477702   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francisco BarbieriGeorges BizetFranz LehárMichael Balfe,   ... 
Performer:  Elina GarancaRoberto AlagnaAlessandro MilaniJ. M Gallardo Del Rey,   ... 
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra MilanTurin Teatro Regio Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available: Garanca's sensational Carmen DVD at the Met


There are a few records every year where everything is right. This is one of them.

Elina Garanca’s third solo release for DG is a triumph on at least three levels: the imaginative and varied programme; the lively and sensitive support she receives from her Italian colleagues led by her conductor husband; and the gorgeous singing voice. The twin themes of the album are gypsies and all things Spanish. The Latvian mezzo (b1976) sets out her stall with the toe-tapping “Come nací en la calle de la Paloma” from Act 1 of El barberillo de Lavapiés, a zarzuela by Francseco
Read more Asenjo Barbieri (1823-94). No, I hadn’t either – but believe me, you won’t get it out of your head. There are three rather more familiar items in the shape of arias from Carmen (Roberto Alagna, her Don José in the Met production, joins her briefly in the Séguedille) plus the rarely heard first version of the Habanera which Bizet later replaced with the well-known tune he unwittingly plagiarised from Yradier.

There’s a scintillating Csárdás from Zigeunerliebe (with a full and firm top C) contrasted with two gentle songs by Falla arranged for guitar and accompanied by José María Gallardo del Ray, whose own crossover-cum-jazz “Canción del amor” is deliciously handled by Garanca. For an easeful legato try Balfe’s “I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls” from The Bohemian Girl (Arline was brought up by gypsies and so just about qualifies).

Garanca’s voice has been described as “creamy”, “silken” and “lustrous” (her chest register is superbly produced) but it also has a surprisingly rounded maturity. What sets her apart, however, is the unteachable ability to send shivers down the spine and make grown men salivate.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

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There are a few records every year where everything is right. This is one of them. The recording, the booklet, the playing of the orchestra, the singing of the chorus, the conducting – everything is on the highest possible level. But what makes this disc stand out as something extraordinary is the programme and the singing.
 
Let’s begin with the programme. The title Habanera immediately signals associations with Spain and the best known habanera is without doubt the one Carmen sings – and Carmen is a gypsy. So gypsy-related music and music with Spanish flavour. Voilá! There are several Spanish composers represented: de Falla, Montsalvatge, Obradors. There are several maestros of the zarzuela – that typical Spanish kind of operetta – but also some Frenchmen: Bizet and Ravel. Add to these a Hungarian: Franz Lehár; an Englishman: Balfe; and an American: Bernstein. In other words a cosmopolitan gathering ensuring contrasts and variety as well as unity. Some of the music is often heard, the three standard arias from Carmen and de Falla’s songs for instance, but a lot more is unhackneyed. There are some things that will be completely new to many readers. The opening number, a bouncy and catchy aria by Barbieri went straight to my heart. I hadn’t heard the aria from Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl either, truly beautiful and soothing. Also it is clever programming to end the recital with two versions of the Carmen Habanera: first the one everyone knows and then Bizet’s first version, which is completely different, heavier and in a way closer to Carmen’s complex character. With more than 68 minutes playing-time this is a generous offering and I am convinced that most readers and potential buyers will find new acquaintances to add to their personal favourite list.
 
But the main reason to buy the disc is the absolutely stupendous singing of Elina Garanca. The Latvian mezzo, now in her mid-30s, has been a hot name for some years. With this recital she definitely climbs to the top of the list – and there is no shortage of great mezzo-sopranos in our time. Garanca is a real mezzo, neither a pushed-up contralto nor a pushed down soprano. Her tone is creamy but can also be glittering and she has well equalized chest-notes. She is also the possessor of ringing top-notes and tosses off an impressive high C at the end of the Lehár aria. Technically she seems to have no weaknesses but innumerable strengths. Beauty of tone and sure-fire technique are important qualities for a successful singing career but to become really great one needs interpretative abilities as well, abilities to communicate. And this is where her greatness lies. Glorious top notes are one way to impress, but the capacity to turn a phrase memorably, to colour the tone, to whisper and still be clearly heard, to charm, to entice the listener and – as in the Carmen seguidilla – be sexually alluring even without the visual aspects, that is what great singing is all about. On stage as Carmen, where I saw her at the Met earlier this year, her physical presence in combination with her singing is totally engrossing. Also as a pure audio experience all the excerpts from Carmen are absolutely spellbinding. Other Carmens may have had grander voices, few have made the character come so much alive.
 
In the zarzuela numbers she is up against legends like Victoria de los Angeles, Montserrat Caballé and Teresa Berganza, three singers I admire enormously. Their positions as touch-stones have not been upset but another name has been added to the group: Elina Garanca. The same goes for the de Falla and Montsalvatge songs, especially the latter’s Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito, so breathlessly beautifully sung. Ruperto Chapi’s big aria from El barquillero is a marvellous number and gives her opportunities to display all aspects of her interpretative art and so does an old favourite of mine, Luna’s De Espa ña vengo. Garanca milks it for every drop of intensity, even out-singing Victoria de los Angeles.
 
The two Spanish folk-songs by de Falla are performed with only guitar accompaniment – a splendid idea; Teresa Berganza did it too. The guitarist, José Maria Gallardo, also contributes a composition of his own¸ Canción del amor, where a small combo is added to the guitar in a jazzy bossa nova number. Garanca is equally at home in this cross-over genre.
 
This is not only my Recording of the Month – it will most certainly be one of my Recordings of the Year when it’s time to close the books in December. Don’t miss it!
 
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. El barberillo de Lavapiés: Como naci en la calle by Francisco Barbieri
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Spain 
2. Carmen: Près des ramparts de Seville "Seguidilla" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano), Roberto Alagna (Tenor)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
3. Zigeunerliebe: Hör' ich Cymbalklänge by Franz Lehár
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano), Alessandro Milani (Violin)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; Vienna, Austria 
4. Bohemian Girl: I dreamt I dwelt in marbled halls by Michael Balfe
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Ireland 
5. Canciones negras (5): no 4, Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito by Xavier Montsalvatge
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; Spain 
6. Canciones populares españolas (7): no 5, Nana by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  J. M Gallardo Del Rey (Guitar), Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
7. El amor brujo: Canción del amor dolorido "Love's Sorrow" by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
8. Vocalise en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
9. El barquillero: Romanza de Socorro by Ruperto Chapi
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1900; Spain 
10. Candide: I am easily assimilated by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1988; USA 
11. Canción del amor by J. M Gallardo Del Rey
Performer:  Roberto Vozmedlano (Percussion), Massimo Macri (Cello), Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano),
J. M Gallardo Del Rey (Guitar), Alberto Barletta (Flute), Enrico Maria Baroni (Clarinet),
Geri Brown (Viola), Cesare Maghenzani (Double Bass)
12. El niño judío: De España vengo by Pablo Luna y Carné
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Spain 
13. Canciones populares españolas (7): no 4, Jota by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  J. M Gallardo Del Rey (Guitar), Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
14. Carmen: Les tringles des sistres tintaient "Gypsy Song" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano), Giuseppina Bridelli (Soprano), Cristina Antoaneta Pasaroiu (Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
15. Canciones Clásicas Españolas: El vito by Fernando J. Obradors
Performer:  J. M Gallardo Del Rey (Guitar), Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
16. La alegría del batallón: A una gitana preciosa by Simeon José Serrano
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; Spain 
17. Carmen: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle "Habañera" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus
Written: 1873-1874 
18. Carmen: L'amour est enfant de bohème by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Elina Garanca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karel Mark Chichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 

Sound Samples

El Barberillo de Lavapiés: Canción de Paloma
Carmen / Act 1: Séguedille et Duo: "Près des remparts de Séville"
Zigeunerliebe (Gipsy Love) / Act 2: Hör' ich Zymbalklänge
The Bohemian Girl - arranged by Karel Mark Chichon: I dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls
Cinco Canciones Negras: 4. Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito
El amor brujo: Canción del amor dolido
Siete canciones populares españolas - Arranged By José Maria Gallardo del Rey: 5. Nana
Vocalise en Forme de Habanera - arranged by Arthur Hoerée
El Barquillero: Romanza de Socorro "Cunado está tan honda"
Candide / Act I: I Am Easily Assimilated (Old Lady's Tango)
Canción del amor
Siete canciones populares españolas - arranged by José Maria Gallardo del Rey: 4. Jota
El Niño Judìo: "De España vengo"
Carmen / Act 2: Chanson: "Les tringles des sistres tintaient"
Canciones clásicas españolas - arranged by Juan Carlos Cuello: El vito
Le alegria del battallon: Cancion de la gitana
Carmen / Act 1: "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Havanaise)
Carmen / Act 1: "L'amour est un enfant Bohème" (Havanaise 1st version)

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