Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Polo" by Manuel de Falla



Teresa Berganza, mezzo soprano
Gabriel Estarellas, guitar
"Polo" from Siete Canciones Españolas by Manuel de Falla
Text- Traditonal


¡Ay!
Guardo una, ¡Ay!
Guardo una, ¡Ay!
¡Guardo una pena en mi pecho,
¡Guardo una pena en mi pecho,
¡Ay!
Que a nadie se la diré!

Malhaya el amor, malhaya,
Malhaya el amor, malhaya,
¡Ay!
¡Y quien me lo dió a entender!
¡Ay!
**************************************
Ay!
I keep a... (Ay!)
I keep a... (Ay!)
I keep a sorrow in my breast,
I keep a sorrow in my breast
that to no one will I tell.

Wretched be love, wretched,
Wretched be love, wretched,
Ay!
And he who gave me to understand it!
Ay!

Translations from
The Lied and Art Song Texts Page

28 comments:

  1. To me, the Seven Spanish Popular Songs are similar in spirit to Dvorak's Zigeunerlieder- they both take folk music and display it in a more modern idiom. The vocal line is so vibrant and soulful, and the accompaniment, while folksy in spirit, it more virtuosic so that it can better convey the meaning of the text.
    And wow, Gabriel Estarellas is amazing!!! She totally gets into the folk aspect of the music without sacrificing her sound.

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  2. I love how she uses straight tone at the beginning of her "Ay"s. And it is really effective with her sitting down, i think. She has all the attention on her face which she so nicely animates!

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  3. I find the guitar's recurring initial theme so intriguing, creating such a tension and drama via ornamented repetition of the second scale degree. Then the voice continues this intensity by never resolving, ending on the fifth (if it is in A minor, as I hear it). It is an excellent illustration of why composers throughout the centuries draw on their rich folk traditions, where such dramatic & intriguing elements can be built upon.

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  4. I enjoy de Falla's use of the guitar to enhance the tension in the text. The song begins with an agitated guitar figuration and this line is given it's meaning through the breathless text "Guardo una...". I love de Falla's special use of the word "Ay". The longer mellismatic accentuations of the word illustrate the text very clearly and passionately.

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  5. I think that one of the most important aspects of the text setting is that the words do not receive the emphasis. The emphasis is rather placed on the emotional outbursts of "Ay." The breathless explanation makes the cry that much more poignant when it repeats. I, too, like her use of straight tone that then blossoms into a nice vibrato.

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  6. Berganza wonderfully embodies the "duende" character of this piece. She expresses profound pain and deep feeling in the color of her voice and her facial expression. It is especially striking how this particular style of singing is at once intensely dramatic but also intimate and personal.

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  7. It's really nice to hear this piece with the guitar as was written as opposed to the piano imitating the guitar. It gives a different aesthetic that wouldn't be displayed otherwise.
    I love hearing the way the vocalist creates differences between each "ay"! Each one is different with dynamic contrasts, amount of vibrato, expression both vocally and in her face and the color that she uses in her voice to display the word is awesome.

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  8. "Siete canciones populares españolas" were written for voice and piano, and were dedicated to Madame Ida Godebska (1914)

    The performances with guitar are arrangements.
    Here's the young Berganza singing El Paño Moruno. And the wonderful Gerald Moore at the piano.

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  9. To me there is nothing better than a singer who is not afraid to really dig into the chest voice. i feel that in this style of music, the ability to leave the "beauty" of voice behind for the dramatic emphasis to shine through. Straight tone, dramatic register flips, all add to the drama of this style of song. Even the guitar has the intense percussive quality creates that little bit of unease that makes the listener perk up. Along with an outrageous hair piece...

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  10. Milagro, the performance with Berganza and Gerald Moore is wonderful. They both employ a wide range of color, and Berganza's subtle gestures and facial expressions make her performance highly communicative.

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  11. Emily, you have completely captured the magic of Falla's compositional style when you describe his ability to bring modernity to the folk idiom. BTW, I think you should hold on to some of your thoughts on this subject from the exam and I'd love for you to turn them into a post on this subject.

    Great comments all around!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the Berganza Moore video, Michael. I suggest watching all the ones that are currently there. As I said earlier, the one of her singing "Nana" as a young woman was simply breath taking. It's such a pity it's no longer there.

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  12. It is always a pleasure to see singers performances not only with the piano, but also with other instruments. Such an exciting and passionate collaboration between the two of them.

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  13. Cante jondo! So much of her interpretation reminds me of flamenco music, from the use of straight tone to the way she declaims the text. The interplay between guitar (in this case) and voice only serves to heighten the tension in the music.

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  14. I so appreciate the variety of colors created in this performance. I didn’t think the first Ay! could get any better, but I loved how Berganza gracefully caressed the last phrase in her chest voice and continued the intensity. So good!!

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  15. This piece is so powerful and Berganza's performance only strengthens it. Each "ay" is more intense than the last and the suffering is palpable in her voice. I appreciate that her performance was not overdone with flamboyant gestures and over the top facial expressions. Her reservation only adds to the power of the emotion she is giving through her choices of vocal color.

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  16. Live performances are always the best! Her first "Ay" got my attention and I love her voice in this song.

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  17. Such insistent rhythm goes so well with the text: I curse love, and I curse the one who taught me love. As always, I imagine a Flamenco dancer when I hear Spanish music like this.

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  18. What an astounding voice. Her mix voice is so solid that the tone was consistent throughout. She was able to sail so effortlessly from head to chest voice and connect both ends of her range into one gorgeous sound. The ensemble was also wonderful. They both had a clear understanding of the piece and were locked in with one another the entire time - great energy!

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  19. Wonderful! And the videos with her and Moore are just superb! It's wonderful the effect that de Falla creates: that of what was left unsaid (ay!) is more heart-breaking than anything else. It is also possible to hear the anger/frustration when the vocal line goes to the lower register while it refers to the beloved. Outstanding cycle, I wish I can perform this!!!

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  20. As far as I’m concerned, Teresa Berganza, is THE best singer of DeFalla’s songs. In the first 10 seconds of her singing, I have chills. Such nuance. Such character. She makes the most out of every little detail, dynamic, and word. On top of that, the timbre of her voice (I feel) fits this repertoire very well: the color is dark, intense, passionate—like red wine or velvet—yet there is an agility and litheness in her voice that is capable of gentle, precious moments.

    The guitar really adds something that we miss with the piano.

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  21. There is a rawness in the lines of this piece that is brought out by the open throated singing by a wonderful Theresa Berganza. It is refreshing to hear the guitar accompaniment. It brings an intimacy to the expression and the color also highlights the emotional outpouring. As in all of the pieces from today's listening, the ornaments serve to also accentuate the poetic and emotional story. What a beautiful piece!

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  22. I find the balance of grandeur against raw emotion fascinating in this piece. The melismas in the vocal line paint the broken nature of the text, as though the vocal line is struggling to complete the poetic line due to the emotion behind the text.

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  23. The rhythmic precision in this piece is absolutely stunning, it is really indicative of the dance traditions that de Falla often drew from in his composition. The text is reasonably straightforward, but the hyper-precise rhythms in the guitar and the intense vocalises bring a sense of tension and passion to the piece that add much more of a character portrait than the text itself does.

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  24. I love hearing this song performed with guitar accompaniment as opposed to piano. At least in this particular performance, I find that the timbral capabilities of the guitar lend a particularly compelling edge to the music, creating a rather visceral intensity that supports the singer. I enjoy also the rawness of emotion and feeling depicted in both the text and the nature of the vocal melody with its expressive embellishments.

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  25. I'm currently working on this piece with cello. Though I am a pianist, I actually like how this song sounds with guitar more than with piano. The timbre from plucking strings just makes the entire song sound a lot more "Spanish". The most stunning part of the song is the word 'Ay!' set to long notes. I can just feel the yearning and desperate emotions, which doesn't quite happen with cello usually due to the lack of text.

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  26. I love the use of guitar instead of piano accompaniment in this piece. The raw, unbridled emotion is thrill-ride for the listener and is achieved by an utterly stunning performance by Teresa Berganza. Her emotional outpouring is so evident in this performance that while I don't speak the language, I fully understand the emotions she's conveying.

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  27. I love the Andalusian influence in this song. Though Moore and Berganza's version of the original piano and voice setting is fantastic, I'm partial to the guitar transcription. The repeated note and rasqueado techniques sound so much more natural on the guitar.That said, I'd still love to play this on the piano!

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  28. Teresa Berganza is an amazing performer. I am struck by the depth of emotion that is expressed and it is without any amount of excess affect. Even when there is a deep sadness being expressed, the sense of pride is meticulously maintained.

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