Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Cancion del arbol del olvido" by Ginastera

Composer: Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Alfredo Kraus, tenor
José Todesillas, pianist

El arbol del olvido

En mis pagos hay un arbol
Que del olvido se llama,
Al que van a despenarse,
Vidalitay, Vidalitay,
Los moribundos del alma.

Para no pensar en vos
Bajo el arbol del olvido
Me acosté una nochecita,
Vidalitay, Vidalitay,
Y me quedé bien dormido.

Al despertar de aquel sueño
Pensaba en vos otra vez,
Pues me olvidé de olvidarte,
Vidalitay, Vidalitay,
Encuantito me acosté.


The Tree of forgetting

In my neighbourhood there is a tree
that's called the tree of forgetting,
to which go to lay down their troubles,
Vidalitay, Vidalitay,
Those whose souls are dying.

So that I would no longer think of you
under the tree of forgetting
I lay down one evening,
Vidalitay, Vidalitay,
And I fell fast asleep.
When I awoke from that dream
I thought of you once again,
because I forgot to forget you,
Vidalitay, Vidalitay,
as soon as I lay down.

Translations are from
Lied and Art Song Page


  1. Great presence from both Kraus and Todesillas! I wanted more of this wonderful singer- pianist dance.

  2. I although I enjoy both parts individually I do not enjoy the ensemble between these two performers. The singer is far too loud to my ears and has complete clarity where the pianist does not. The pianist's playing is mysterious which I love. Perhaps these problems are to be blamed on the recording. I love Ginastera's musical language, just incredible.

  3. I so enjoy the pianist's separation of the right hand from the left. The two parts are completely autonomous and it lends the piece a lot of the surreality or ethereal aura it deserves. The swaying back and forth between the rhythm and the melody accurately portrays the sleep, dreaming, and also perhaps a gentle breeze that moves the leaves on the tree.

  4. I'm very fond of Todesilla's piano playing. That's why I put this one up. I think Derek says it quite well. I also like his almost jazzy approach to the rhythm and his voicing of the harmonies is ideal.

    Here's one I just found. Quirky, some intonation issues, but still intriguing.
    Take a listen.

  5. The pianist conveyed the character of the guitar very well, an idiom which I would think would be very difficult to imitate on a piano. I honestly liked Catherine's less declamatory, more introspective version of the piece better. I wonder if the largeness of the venue affected his approach to the song.

  6. The pianist, as others have said, is wonderful. The singer was too declamatory for me, given the melancholy, bittersweet text.

  7. I agree with Emily. The pianist delivered well. I so love the piano motives and sweet interludes that are heard between the verses.

  8. I will echo the other commenters' opinions regarding the pianist--he is fabulous. The articulation is superb and gives the perfect character to the piece. I think that the tenor has a beautiful instrument, but would like to have heard more attention to expressing the text and more of a feeling of partnership and ensemble with the pianist. This is a wonderful piece with many opportunities for shaping the phrases and milking the dissonances.

  9. I want to sing this song. There is a jazz feel to it that is subtle but heard throughout the accompaniment. I had the same thought as John because the singing could have been a little less declamatory.

  10. I know it's been said before, but there seems to be an obvious disconnect between the performers. The vocalist seems to to miss the nature of the piece and is slightly over singing. It's such a relaxed melody in the piano, and there are those gorgeous moment switching from minor to major that he seems to be missing. Despite this performance, this is one of my favorite pieces we have looked at in not only Spanish music, but the entire course.

  11. Hum... I might disagree from everyone else, but I actually like Kraus declamatory performance. To me, it sounded like the piano accompaniment portrays the image of the unperturbed tree, laying its spell on the singer, while he is passionately telling his story to his beloved. I loved it!

  12. I do not love Mr. Kraus' delivery of text and singing style. I feel that he evokes a Puccini-esque Italian Opera affect that betrays the text.

    On the other hand, I LOVE the piano motives and interludes. To me, the piano communicates more than the singer.

  13. Wow, I had a really negative reaction to this performance, so much that I listened to it twice to figure out why, but then when I read the comments it seems that I came to the same conclusion as many of the other singers on this page. I was not taken with the singer's delivery of this text, and I feel like Alyse said it best by describing the style as too Italianate, specifically Italian bel canto. I think a simpler and more nuanced, less sentimental performance of this piece would capture the mood better. I do love the pianist playing and love his treatment of the ostinato bass versus the syncopated chords.

  14. I really wish I could hear Todesillas more clearly throughout the sections when Krauss is singing. The balance seems off, as many others have said. From what I could hear of Todesillas, I really enjoyed his playing.

  15. This is an absolutely beautiful little tango with both accompaniment and voice perfectly embodying the feeling of oblivion. Ginastera wrote mainly for voice and piano, but here the piano must be played with the folk quality of the guitar. In fact, another version of this with tenor Jose Cura and guitar really captured the feeling of the music and text better than the piano. I was also interested to listen to a version with Mercedes Sosa and Martha Argerich at the piano. This singer is obviously untrained but sings this with a feeling and rubato that seems somewhat more "natural" than other trained singers, at least for this text. I have not come across any statements about the practice of improvising accompaniments to Spanish and South American Art Song, but Argerich plays a more fully realized version which seems appropriate for her singer. I would imagine it is not a foreign concept considering that so much of this Art Song genre has its roots in folk music. It would be an interesting topic for exploration.

  16. I love this piece. I find it more effective when sung with a more legato, honest/folk like quality (is it a folk song?) but it is still a great piece. The poetry strikes me as so South American, but I can't put my finger on why...
    Looking forward to hearing Emma sing this song in class!