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Review of Música Criolla

The following review appeared in the December-January 2001 issue of The Absolute Sound. It is a part of Michael Alan Fox' Golden Ear Awards, where two other CD releases were also reviewed.

This (Música Criolla) features Ariel Ramírez' Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra in performances fully equal to the original recording under the composer's direction (Philips PCC 619 or 6527136), but with the advantage of a glorious recording acoustic. (St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco has been immortalized as a recording venue by Reference Recordings' Star of Wonder (RR-21), picked last issue by Neil Gader among References for its "nearly heavenly envelope of space.") It sounds just as good here. The level of performance for a community chorus is extraordinary, and they are no less authentic than Ramirez' own Argentine singers. For those unfamiliar with them, the works can be described as vernacular sacred music with idiomatic Latin American musical elements. Misa Criolla has become more familiar, but Navidad Nuestra is fully its equal, and its central movement, the lullaby-inspired "El Nacimiento" as sung in this recording by Mimi Ruiz is unutterably lovely.

In the interests of full disclosure I will admit that I have known the choir's director since high-school days, but it would be a great disservice both to friendship and to music if that fact were to prevent me from calling to attention to this brilliant recording. At 46:12, the playing time is stingy; by way of compensation, the CD booklet, in both Spanish and English, is a model of scholarship and of eloquence. It would be instructive reading for those who equate multiculturalism with the coming of the Visigoths.


Notes about

Ramillete: flowers from field
and garden a garland of choral song from Spain and Latin America

Coro Hispano de San Francisco
Juan Pedro Gaffney R., director

If "Mexican Baroque" has caught your ear, this wide-ranging anthology of choral music from Mexico, Central and South America is a must; it's got Latin American Renaissance, Baroque, Classic, Romantic and folk-originate works in a rich array of textures, styles and sonorities, from chorus-orchestra down to voice-and-guitar, all performed to the nines by the nation's premiere ensemble dedicated to this repertory: Coro Hispano de San Francisco. Brilliant vocal solos and on-target instrumental work by some of the West Coast's leading names in early music combine with foot-stomping Veracruz zapateados and robust, ranchera-style singing in this sampler from a half-dozen different concert programs.

Latin America's choral music is a little-known treasure that's been quietly awaiting rediscovery for decades (or centuries- depending on how far back you want to go). Leading the way in its interpretation is the Coro Hispano de San Francisco, which has been exploring and performing this repertory exclusively since its first concert in 1975. On this disc-its third CD release- the nation's premiere Hispanic chorus turns in an amazingly varied sampling of music for voices and instruments from the cathedrals of Puebla, Lima and Sevilla, the ranchos of Early California, the plazas of Veracruz, all the way to the rain-forest missions of Paraguay and the mountain villages of Nigeria.


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Música Criolla (listen) $15.00
cd The Coro Hispano de San Francisco presents an exciting program including one of the most popular works of the Latin American choral repertoire, Ariel Ramírez's Musica Criolla. Since its composition, the Misa has been a showpiece for choirs around the world. In it, Ramírez has created a work at once spiritually exalting and deeply rooted in the folk idiom of his people. It's architectural simplicity, subtlety of detail, and vibrant colors make a moving experience which the Coro Hispano has lovingly and fully captured in this recording. (more) Misa Criolla
1. Kyrie (vidala/baguala)
2. Gloria (carnavalito/yaravi)
3. Credo (chacarera trunca)
4. Sanctus (carnaval cochabambino)
5. Agnus Dei (estilo pampeano)

Navidad Nuestra
6. La Anunciación (chamamé)
7. La Peregrinación (huella pampeana)
8. El Nacimiento (vidala catamarqueña)
9. Los Pastores (chaya riojana)
10. Los Reyes Magos (takirari)
11. La Huida (vidala tucumana)

Flor de Chañar
12. Chacarera del Querer
13. Baguala
14. Flor de Chañar (carnavalito)
Ramillete (listen) $15.00

19 tracks; total time 77:53. Complete with texts, translations and notes.

Four of the nineteen tracks on this disc are taken from live concerts in diverse venues, the rest from dedicated recording sessions, but all in acoustic settings that allow the natural sound of voices and instruments to bloom without tweeking. Most are works complete in themselves; a few are single movements of larger works, which will be re-released in their entirety in subsequent CDs. (more)
1. Te Deum in C:1st movement
2. Fecit Potenciam:3rd movement, Magnificat in D
3. Laudate Dominum
4. Cántico Del Alba
5. Gloria (from the Misa al 2 tono)
6. Agnus Dei
7. Virgen Sancta
8. ¡Plaza, Plaza!
9. Las Mañanitas Guadalupanas
10. Los Coflades de la Estleya
11. Keresimesi Odun de O
12. O Quam Suavis
13. Digan, Digan
14. El Tilingo-Lingo
15. La Golondrina
16. Cuando Uno Quiere a Una
17. Te Quiero Porque te Quiero
18. Corrido de César Chávez
19. Es Bueno Darte Gracias, Señor
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Corohispano de San Francisco will refund CD purchases for the full amount of the CD price which does not include shipping and handling charges, if returned via us mail within 30 days of purchase.