It took two years and two days, but it surely was price ready for.
Ana Maria Martinez’s all-Spanish language music program, conceived as a tribute to her personal cultural roots (she and her mom have been born in Puerto Rico; her father is Cuban) was initially scheduled by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society for March 13, 2020, however… properly, you already know.
Fortunately for all, PCMS managed to rearrange with each artists—the pianist was Craig Terry, who clearly helped conceive and mildew this system. Two years has, if something, made the enthusiastic viewers much more palpably appreciative, notably within the poignant, sentimental songs that go well with Martinez particularly properly.
She is an artist of the primary caliber, which was richly evident all through this imaginative, substantial (practically two hours!) program, which was (thanks!) supplied with out a music stand. Martinez wanted occasional prompting from Terry concerning the order of the songs, however in each different sense her musical preparation was immaculate.
The night’s elegant construction included a primary half devoted to 3 teams of music: Joaquin Rodrigo’s Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios (a particular favourite of mine); Joaquin Turina’s Poema en Forma de Canciones; and Manuel de Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Espanolas. Befitting the standing of this materials as pillars of the classical music repertoire, Martinez’s used minimal gestures and supplied no spoken introductions. She wore a chicly easy black satin skirt and black high, and along with her stillness and focus, she may have been a determine of Lorca.
The second half introduced a brand new robe—gold, asymmetrical, with a va-va-voom issue—that additionally signaled a shift in temper. The fabric on this a part of this system was typically much less acquainted and introduced collectively totally different genres, together with Zarzuela, and a music by tango-meister Carlos Gardel. Fittingly, right here Martinez was relaxed and chatty, interacting continuously with Terry, whom she clearly adores, and with the viewers.
To all of this, Martinez brings an instrument ideally fitted to this repertoire—a extremely particular person, fascinatingly tinted voice. It’s not solely that she involves this repertoire by birthright; it’s additionally a really perfect match for the chiaroscuro of her soprano, which has a particular, nearly metallic tang. The decrease voice—the place a lot of this materials lies—is kind of mezzo-ish, with a darkish chocolate, nearly throaty chunk. The excessive notes emerge very otherwise, like glowing darts.
Over the course of the night, the higher and decrease registers melded extra evenly, however in the beginning, Martinez made use of the distinction in Rodrigo’s ¿De donde venis amore?, the place the excessive coloratura seemed like sudden shafts of life, enlivening this attractive music. By and huge, although Martinez efficiently navigated the playful allure of a few of this materials—together with a bang-up model of Salida de Cecilia from Gonzalo Roig’s Cecilia Valdes—it’s within the extra lyrical and severe materials that makes the best impression.
This she accomplishes not a lot by way of particular signature results we generally affiliate with these songs. She doesn’t have the shimmer of a Pilar Lorengar, nor the simple float of Montserrat Caballe; on the different finish of the dimensions, she doesn’t chunk into the chest voice with the fierceness of Conchita Supervia—not even in Falla’s Polo, which she largely did in combined voice.
As an alternative, she achieves her beautiful outcomes by way of small gradations of form and quantity. She was immeasurably aided by Terry, who’s a completely grasp of the usually swirling, arpeggiated accompaniments right here, in addition to the play of rhythm (unforgettable in Falla’s Jota). Terry additionally organized a ultimate medley that introduced collectively three numbers.
In all, a mesmerizing night let down solely barely by the only miscalculated encore: O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi. Martinez actually sang it properly, but it surely was a hackneyed word in an in any other case splendidly unique program, and one which additionally didn’t go well with her persona: she’s a lady, not a lady—Tosca, not Lauretta.
Photograph: Svetlana Pasedko