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El Rebelde (Andrew Garland)

Andrew Garland (baritone), *Javier Abreu (tenor), Jeremy Reger (piano) (Art Song Colorado)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

El Rebelde
Gabriela Lena Frank: Cantos de Cifar el Mar Dulce; Las Cinco Lunas de Lorca*; Cuatro Canciones Andinas; Shostakovich: Spanish Songs
Andrew Garland (baritone), *Javier Abreu (tenor), Jeremy Reger (piano)
Art Song Colorado DASP 005   68:31 mins

Composer Gabriela Lena Frank (b1972) has little time for stylistic boundaries or creative limits. A prodigious musical talent, Frank grew up with high-moderate/near-profound hearing loss, and her music often explores her rich and complex cultural heritage, particularly her Latin-American identity (her mother was of Peruvian and Chinese ancestry).

This fine recording features performances of great versatility and power from baritone Andrew Garland, ably supported by Jeremy Reger’s accomplished pianism. The album opens with Frank’s substantial song cycle, Cantos de Cifar y el Mar Dulce (Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea) which sets poems by Nicaraguan poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra recounting the adventures of the harp-playing sailor Cifar. The cycle includes a terrific variety of characters, moods and sonorities – from the shimmering heartache of ‘En La Vela de angeilito’ (At the wake of the little angel) to the playful extravagance of ‘Me Diste ioh Dios! una Hija (You gave me, oh God!, a daughter) – and demands any number of vocal styles and theatrical flourishes, all of which are delivered with total conviction by Garland.

Alongside this beguiling work comes Frank’s Cuatro Canciones Andinas – four powerful settings of Quechua poetry – and The Five Moons of Lorca which sets a text by Nilo Cruz describing the death of Lorca (and here featuring a powerful performance from tenor Javier Abreu). An expressive account of Shostakovich’s spare but characterful Spanish Songs completes the disc.

It is baffling that such a thoughtful recording should be accompanied by neither sleeve notes nor texts and translations, but this is otherwise an excellent album of depth and imagination.

Kate Wakeling