DUTCH FLAMENCO BIENNIAL 2011
NOCHE DE CANTE JONDO: ARCÁNGEL • EL TORTA
Cante hurts... and is diverse
Silvia Calado. Amsterdam, January 29th, 2011
'Noche de cante jondo'. First part:
Arcángel with Miguel Ángel
Cortés on guitar. Second part: El Torta
with Diego del Morao on guitar. 3rd Dutch Flamenco Biennial.
Bimhuis. Amsterdam (Holland), January 29th, 2011, 9 p.m.
The days go by intensely in Amsterdam.
Starting very early in the morning, at the Hotel Lloyd there
is a hustle and bustle of artists, journalists, technicians
and production personnel. The earliest ones to rise today
were the contemporary and flamenco musicians (among them,
Arcángel and La Moneta) who take part in the closing
gala 'Flamenco sin fin', in order to go to the daily rehearsal
at the premises where the Nieuw Ensemble usually gets its
premieres ready. Mid-morning, Joaquín
Grilo had a baile master class at the Global Dance Lab.
And a little while later, Bobote taught a double workshop
in an old hall of the hotel itself, to train Dutch enthusiasts
in the art of compás. Meanwhile, at the Bimhuis musical
crosses from here and there were displayed, of guitars and
lutes, of cantes and saxes, like 'Viento del desierto' and
'Compasión'. And at the same time as all of this,
the hotel’s internal TV channel was broadcasting in
a loop the documentary 'El cante bueno duele' (‘Good
Cante Hurts’), directed by the festival’s director,
Ernestina van der Noort, together with Martijn van Beenen.
It was precisely that film which was shown
at the Bimhuis as a prologue to 'Noche de cante jondo' (‘Cante
Jondo Night’). But some of the passages in the audiovisual
didn’t correspond at all to what would later happen
on stage, at the same time as it sends out certain excluding
messages which don’t reflect the reality of flamenco
cante at all. A reality which is as rich, as varied and
as diverse as its own performers and creators are. And that
is precisely how it was displayed minutes later live: El
Torta is as much a cantaor as Arcángel is, although
they are worlds apart.
was dazzling. The Huelva-born cantaor offered an impeccable,
complete recital, expressly dedicated to his beloved Enrique
Morente, which was felt by ears, head and heart. The quality
in technique now reached by this artist is superb and therefore,
he can afford complexity and sophistication without losing
his sense of direction. Beside him he has a guitarist, Miguel
Ángel Cortés, who is able to back him
along that road on which both of them conduct themselves
as high-level musicians. And together they’ve personalized
arrangements which add originality and freshness to what
is so withered. The good taste and demandingness they apply
to every note is a pleasure to listen to. And the same thing
happens with the thoughts, since there aren’t any
coincidences in any of the lyrics: he says them for them
to be heard and to be understood and for you to make them
your own. “When you knock on my door, don’t
do it with your fist, do it with your hand open”,
he said por soleá. “There’s so much joy
in my house that I’m not telling anyone what’s
wrong with me”, he said por cantiñas. “You’ve
wasted a lot of time criticizing and muttering”, he
said por verdiales de Vallejo. And all of it, while continually
appealing to the heart, producing feelings which might be
sweet or bitter, for if the tangos are velvety, his seguiriya
is sharp. Only after all of that did he say good night and
thank those who “make these kinds of festivals possible,
since for me it’s an honor that flamenco, the music
which makes us get up every morning with a desire to live,
is in so many hearts spread throughout the world”.
After the intermission, a radical change.
El Torta visited planet Earth for a while in order to tackle
a stage, an audience, cante and his internal struggles.
Trapped and affected by the aftereffects which drug addiction
and depression have left in him, he charged the recital
pressured by who knows what beings, what forces, what torments.
He sang violently, furiously, hurriedly, nervously, startling
the audience, the guitarist (what reflexes Diego
del Morao has) and himself. And he said 'with-sense'
and nonsense as they sprang up, and really great truths:
“I’m really suffering”. And even so, he
was able to let loose spine-tingling “moments”
of cante of the kind that hurts, touches and affects you,
por soleares and por seguiriyas. But the balance between
those instants and all the rest is not acceptably even at
present, or at least not for those of us who feel that there’s
nothing comical about other people’s suffering.