Sunday, June 14, 2009

In review--Catalan Treasures

Maria del Mar Bonet
World Village

I am quite pleased that labels such as World Village have been releasing and distributing traditional Spanish music recordings in North America. I recently reviewed albums by Uxia from Galicia and Marina Rossell from Barcelona as well as, penning an article on Galician music for World Music Central. I also have a personal connection to Spain which flows in my blood and seeps through my temperament.

When we preserve traditional music, we also preserve dances, languages, instruments, poetry and history. We honor our ancestors when we listen to this old music and we find our roots too that help us feel secure in an unstable world. I have listened to the music of my ancestors on both sides of my family and have been enriched by the experience, though I have not heard much traditional Filipino music during my lifetime, I have delved into Finnish, Spanish, and Puerto Rican musical traditions. I find these quests healing and enlivening.

Hailing from the Spanish island Majorca the decorated Maria de Mar Bonet has preserved traditional Spanish music which she has graced with her velvety alto voice. She arrived in Barcelona in the late 60s, during the Franco era, singing songs in the Catalan dialect, (forbidden at that time by the Franco government). She performed this music on stages in Europe and abroad, collecting prestigious awards and honors in the process.

Raixa, garnered its title from a luxurious garden on the island of Majorca. And similar to such a garden, this live recording (produced in Barcelona in 2001), also gives off a perfume and beautiful blossoms. The mix of original songs, arranged traditional and songs set to Spanish poetry give off a nostalgic scent. Joan Valent and the Ars Ensemble come on board contributing lush arrangements of strings, percussion, accordion, flute and beautiful soprano vocals compliments of Teresa Barrientos that blend well with Bonet's sensual vocals. Dimitri Psonis (bouzouki and percussion), Feliu Gasull (guitar) and Javier Mas (guitar and arch lute) also contribute to this gorgeous collection of songs.

The text often revolves around themes of wind and sea, with fields of grain, gardens, death and broken hearted lovers coming into play their roles. The English translation of the lyrics are breathtaking, but instead of me quoting passages from this album, I recommend that you pick up the recording for your own collection. This hardback book and CD set offers a feast for all of the senses, especially for those readers seeking treasures from Old World Spain.

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