We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Friday, July 18, 2014


David Galvez and Amaya Arberas
The Museum of the City of New York has mounted a superlative installation of the works of Rafael Guastavino, the Valencian architect responsible for so many of New York City's tiled arches.  The Consulate General of Spain in New York generously sponsored a musical evening highlighting musical works from the same period--late 19th c.

We could think of no finer artists to convey the parallels between music and architecture than soprano superstar Amaya Arberas (previously reviewed and found in our search bar) and guitar virtuoso David Galvez (also reviewed previously, also found by entering his name in the search bar).

We do not hear enough classical Spanish music here in New York which strikes us as a sad state of affairs. The melodic music bears both restraint and passion in delightful balance and the language itself is highly singable with vowels similar to those of the Italian language.  If we were given a single wish for the opera scene in NYC, it would be to have a company present zarzuelas and Spanish art songs.

Ms. Arberas has a brilliant soprano with a finely grained vibrato and a sparkling resonance.  One rarely gets to hear these art songs performed by a native Castilian and there were many moments that produced goosebumps and the teary eyes that come from witnessing beauty, be it musical, painterly or sculptural.

The two songs on the program that were familiar to us were Manuel de Falla's "El Paño Moruno" in which Ms. Arberas slyly conveyed the song's symbolic subtext and Fernando Obradors' "Del Cabello Mas Sutil" in which the tenderness brought tears to our eyes.  A very dramatic piece from Ruperto Chapi's zarzuela , Las Hijas del Zebedeo, absolutely blew us away.

Songs by Fernando Sor and Eduardo Toldrá rounded out the vocal part of the program and the beautiful "Cantares" by Joaquin Turina gave Ms. Arberas an opportunity to show another aspect of her artistry in the melismatic passages.

The vocal selections were stunningly accompanied by Mr. Galvez, a special treat to our ears, especially Miguel Llobet's "El Testament d'Amelia", a barcarolle like song in 3/4 time.  Mr. Galvez had several opportunities to play solos as well.  We have mainly been exposed to the guitar in works of the Baroque period and we realize how greatly we prefer works of the Late Romantic period. 

In Isaac Albeniz' "Asturias" we admired the deft rasqueados of the right hand.  In Sor's "Variaciones de Mozart" we appreciated the subtle dynamic and rhythmic variety and the insistent phrase which we cannot get out of our ears, nor would we wish to do so.  The moving "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" was yet another favorite.

As encores, Ms. Arberas switched to the Italian language, performing two lovely songs by Vicente Martin y Soler--"La Costanza" and "Volubile".  They were as lovely as the Spanish songs and brought the audience to their collective feet.

Sadly, the recital is over but the Guastavino exhibit can be seen until September 7.  There is a video installation on display in "Palaces for the People".  Or you could visit all the places in NYC to which the famous architect contributed his arched tile ceilings.  Or you could do both!

© meche kroop

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