- A Mi Ciudad Nativa/To My Native City: Art Songs of Latin America
In her bio, Colombian-born Patricia Caicedo is described as a "soprano and musicologist," indicating that her activities go beyond the simple performance of songs. She is something of an ambassador for Latin-American songs, regularly presenting this repertoire in recitals and concert-lectures around the world, and she has edited an anthology of Latin-American art songs that includes the scores for a number of the songs on this recording.1 A Mi Ciudad Nativa is meant to complement Caicedo's previous recording, Lied: Art Songs of Latin America (2001).2 On the earlier disc, Caicedo presented songs that were more familiar (at least to listeners with some knowledge of Latin-American music), and it was recorded at a time when she was in the early stages of her research on Latin-American art songs. This new recording represents the broadening of her knowledge of the repertoire through research and through the cultivation of relationships with living twentieth-century composers or with their descendents. Reportedly she has amassed a collection of scores for some 2,500 songs from eighteen countries, a number that amazes even those of us who have studied Latin-American art songs for some time. Not surprisingly, Caicedo has ambitious plans for future recordings. She intends to make a series of recordings, one CD for each Latin-American country that gives an overview of the art song's development in each respective country. She is also making a series of lecture-recital DVDs having to do with the art songs of each country, and she has already completed the DVDs for Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil. Other projects include a recording of the complete art songs of Colombian composer Jaime León, as well as a CD of songs dedicated to her by composers she has met during the course of her studies.
A Mi Ciudad Nativa (a title taken from one of the songs by Jaime León) is the first CD to be released by Mundo Arts, an organization devoted to the advancement of Latin-American and Spanish classical music (see http://www.mundoarts.com for more information). The disc is essentially a recital program organized by the geographical origin of the songs: Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, and Cuba. The composers represented on the disc are Jaime León (b. 1921), José María Tena (1895–1952), and Adolfo Mejía (1905–73) of Colombia; Claudio Santoro (1919–89), Osvaldo Lacerda (b. 1928), Francisco Mignone (1897–1986), and Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959) of Brazil; and Carlos Guastavino (1912–2000), Julio Perceval (1903–63), and Ariel Ramírez (b. 1921) of Argentina. The remaining composers [End Page 240] are Theodoro Valcárcel (Peru, 1896–1942), Juan B. Plaza (Venezuela, 1898–1965), Eduardo Caba (Bolivia, 1890–1953), Manuel M. Ponce (Mexico, 1882–1948), and Nilo Meléndez (Cuba, 1902–87).
Of the twenty-eight songs on the disc, thirteen are recorded here for the first time. I have to admit, though, that the only song I had heard previously on a long-playing record was Guastavino's "En los surcos del amor." All of the others were new to me, even those by Ponce and Villa-Lobos. One of Caicedo's goals with this recording was to give space to lesser known composers, and as such well-known composers are granted less space. Villa-Lobos is only represented by one song, "Estrela e lúa nova," but it shines like a tiny gem. The most unusual set is probably Cuatro Canciones Incáicas by Peruvian composer Theodoro Valcárcel. His songs are based on Quechuan and Aymara texts, and the composer sets them with pentatonic melodies typical of highland music and vaguely impressionistic accompaniments. Caicedo gives top billing to fellow Colombian Jaime León, including five of his songs (the most of any composer on the CD) and placing them first on the program. These are very attractive, and I...