PRESENTATION OF ‘LA ROSA BLANCA’
Silvia Calado. Madrid, November 25th,
Translation: Joseph Kopec
Photos: Daniel Muñoz
‘La rosa blanca’ (‘The
White Rose’). Montse
Cortés: cante. Diego de Morao, Eduardo Cortés:
guitars. Piraña: box drum. Alain Pérez: bass.
Luisa Carmona, Jenara Cortés, Antonio Campos, Miguel
el Lavi: choruses. Casa de América Concert Series.
Madrid, November 25th, 2004. 9 p.m.
Montse Cortés and
The final stretch of the year has been full of flamenco album
premieres. And Madrid is the stage. Just three days ago José
Mercé premiered ‘Confí de fuá’
at the Lope de Vega Theater, and a couple of weeks ago Niña
Pastori presented ‘No hay quinto malo’ in the
concert series at Casa de América. The same venue hosted
the presentation of the second album by Montse Cortés.
rosa blanca’ was heard live for the first time on
this fortunate stage, a cozy amphitheater with a nearly family-size
capacity which, to top it all off, has excellent technical
means. Thus, the audience was able to enjoy as much as they
wanted the voice of a cantaora in a state of grace, whose
faculties turn this line of new songs nearly into a mere excuse.
The concert's repertoire - which faithfully reproduced the
album... and that doesn't always happen in flamenco - was
shaped by eminently festive cantes: tangos, rumbas and bulerías.
She only broke away from this line to sing the soleá
‘Lloran al lao mío’, accompanied solely
by the reliable guitar of Diego de Morao. As she herself said
with her sweet speaking voice, she did “a tribute to
traditional flamenco”; that which, although she doesn't
show it on her albums, she masters with as much skill as that
other more extroverted one. She used this cante to look inside,
to demonstrate knowledge and moderation. But it was just a
drop of intimacy amidst the merriment.
The concert started off with the bulerías ‘Nostalgia
añadía’, announcing the formula to be
followed: flamenco song of a rhythmic cut, nearly always with
shallow poetry, embellished with choruses and endowed with
open spaces to let the cantaora's voice loose. From her faintest
register to the most forced one, the cantaora works it out.
And the thing is that from her vast experience in accompanying
baile and guitar for artists of the likes of Joaquín
Cortés, Antonio Canales and Paco de Lucía, Montse
Cortés has achieved absolute security and a perfect
mastery of her vocal qualities. She knows her limits, and
if she goes beyond them, she always comes out smelling like
a rose, leaving the audience flabbergasted.
The rumbas ‘Río de azúcar’ warmed
up the ambience, opening the way to the first single off the
album: ‘Hiere’, a song through tangos with a catchy
refrain that the group (box drum, bass, two guitars and choruses)
performed outstandingly. Following the break of the soleá,
the Catalan artist came charging back with the tangos ‘...Y
si no es verdad?’, composed by Huelva-born cantaor Arcángel,
and therefore impregnated with his melodic style. The bulerías
‘Un ole a tiempo’, the work of bailaor Farruquito
- who had already composed a song for Niña Pastori
on her previous album ‘María’
-, proposed a different game with the rhythm, with sensationalist
cuts and spaces stressing the vocal juggling which the cantaora
is capable of.
Next, she sang ‘La rosa blanca’, a tango-rumba
which gives the album its name. Judging by the warm applause
from the crowd, it has the makings of a future hit. With the
same enthusiasm, they received ‘Las Alfareras’,
bulerías with a quick tempo, with Jerez roots and stylized
development which on the album has the added plus of Tomatito
on the guitar. Once having presented the group and thanks
having been given to all who should have received it - including
the producer, Javier Limón, who was forgotten - she
sang the chorus ‘Jesús de Nazaret’, a sort
of prayer-cum-ballad with which she shares her religious feelings.
The crowd rose to its feet straight off. Montse Cortés
could hardly swallow so much affection. “You've really
touched me. I'll sing whatever you want. Shall I sing ‘Hiere’
again?”. And she did. Taking advantage of the abundant
complicity, Piraña prompted the audience to even accompany
on clapping, like at all good concerts. Everybody happy. “God