Before time overcomes the memory, I should say something about the presentation last Thursday by Lara Bello and Erik Kurimski of their new CD of folk songs collected by the Spanish poet García Lorca. What I knew going in was that Bello is the ideal interpreter of the material. I have heard her before in this repertory and commented upon it, but last Thursday it managed, somehow and improbably, to exceed my previous impression of it.
This was partly due to the occasion (part of a wider celebration of Lorca at various New York locations), and to the monologues between the songs, which were both personal and charming (Bello has the rare knack of addressing serious material in a state of palpable happiness). But what was most unusual, and the most aesthetically generative, was that the performance was entirely a capella and acoustic, although the house, if not huge, was hardly small. Bello has a voice that carries despite its delicacy, out of which a melody can surge in a moment of high emotion, and resettle in quietude, like birdsong in the forest, or the tinkle of water over stones. This fits perfectly with the material, and with Lorca, whose work is so richly planted in the soil.
There are styles of song that depend legitimately upon the artistry of the amplified voice, but the folksongs that Lorca compiled are, if not pre-modern, at least a-technological, compounded of earth and sky, to say nothing of the waters. If it was possible to hear those of Granada flowing last week, we did, in a state of tranquility and recollection, with no small measure of joy.
“Por el agua de Granada: Cancionero Lorquiano” will be performed at 7:30pm Sept. 22, 2016, at St. John’s Lutheran Church. For more on events and programs of Instituto Cervantes in New York, click here.