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Classical 18/07/2020

Rolando Villazon And Xavier De Maistre Present "Serenata Latina," A Rich And Varied Programme Of Latin American Songs

Rolando Villazon And Xavier De Maistre Present "Serenata Latina," A Rich And Varied Programme Of Latin American Songs
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Rolando Villazón's latest album for Deutsche Grammophon showcases the vocal music of his native continent. Serenata latina, set for international release on October 2, presents songs recorded for the first time with specially arranged harp accompaniments realized and performed by the great French harpist Xavier de Maistre. Together Villazón and de Maistre present a programme embracing everything from Venezuelan and Peruvian dance-songs to art songs by composers such as Alberto Ginastera and Carlos Guastavino.

Thanks to its long and turbulent history, Latin America boasts a wealth of musical influences - indigenous, African and European. Its song repertoire is therefore one of the most diverse in the world, rich in melodic, rhythmic and narrative forms unique to the continent. Serenata latina pays tribute to a repertoire that reflects a two-way exchange between the rural spaces where folk music reigned and the salons and concert halls of urban areas.

"This album is a collection of beautiful traditional folk and art songs from my big homeland - when you come from Latin America, all other Latin countries feel like siblings," explains Villazón. "Its themes vary from nature to love, from grief for the spirits of the dead to the joy of being alive. Throughout, we can admire the art and sensibility of the Latin American composers who drank from the European tradition to create their music but remained rooted in the soil of our rich, colourful, sometimes melancholic yet always resilient culture."

Listeners will already be able to sample the Serenata latina experience this summer through the release of three e-singles. En estos días by the legendary Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez and Al banco solitario, a tender love song by the Argentine singer and composer Yvette Souviron, are already available on all the digital platforms for streaming or as downloads. Deseo, an emotionally charged concert piece by Cuban composer Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes, is due for release on 7 August.

The idea for Serenata latina was conceived almost eighteen years ago at Vienna's Musikverein, where Xavier de Maistre was performing Ginastera's Harp Concerto. The composer's widow, Aurora Nátola, visited him backstage after the concert and suggested that he should transcribe her late husband's Cinco canciones populares argentinas for harp. From this starting point, the harpist eventually went on to transcribe the piano parts of almost two dozen Latin American songs, as well as four solo pieces originally written for other instruments.
"I really wanted to record Latin songs with a tenor," says de Maistre. "The first person I thought of was Rolando. He's familiar with this music and is very innovative, always looking for fresh projects. When I phoned him about it, he immediately said that it was a great idea. We met and after half an hour he said: 'Let's do it!' When he realised what was possible on the harp, he really encouraged me to try new pieces."

Rolando Villazón praises de Maistre as "one of the finest musicians of our time". Their shared curiosity and readiness to take artistic risks helped shape Serenata latina. "I am overjoyed to perform the duets on this album with Xavier," notes Villazón. "I feel that the arc of his interpretation, which goes from the most delicate intimacy to the most refined and exuberant richness, is the perfect kindred spirit for the poetry and melodic universe of these songs."

The two artists also hope to tour their new programme in 2020-21, with appearances at the Rheingau and Schleswig-Holstein festivals, as well as recitals in Prague, Munich, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

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