Antonio Canales
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Niña Pastori
"María" (New release)

Mayte Martín





The flamenco house

Silvia Calado Olivo, June 2003
Photos: © Javier del Real
Translation: Joseph Kopec

Mayte + Belén: Mayte Martín and Belén Maya with Juan Ramón Caro and José Luis Montón (guitars), Olvido Lanza (violin), Susana Medina and Ana Cali (clapping). Tierra y Fuego (Earth and Fire): Antonio Canales and Manuela Carrasco with Enrique el Extremeño, Antonio Zúñiga, El Gallo and Samara Amador (cante), Joaquín Amador, Daniel Méndez and Miguel Iglesia (guitars), Joselito Carrasco (percussion), Bobote (clapping and dancing). Flamenco Puro (Pure Flamenco): Niña Pastori with José Carlos Gómez (guitar), Chaboli (percussion), Martín García (contrabass), Andrés Segovia String Quartet. Royal Theater. Madrid (Spain), from June 16th to 18th, 2003.

"I'd have liked all the artists who have been to this series, whom I admire so much, to be here tonight for this finale; it would have been interesting, but everyone has their commitments". Niña Pastori faced solo the honor of closing the second series which Madrid's Royal Theater has devoted to flamenco, at the same time as her concert. She did so, of course, through bulerías, accompanied by musicians who had inspired her in this recital which, as she said so herself, she performed with the hope of "singing flamenco, which is my life, is what I started off with and what I sing at home, but other roads have sprung up that I also love and I've been stopped from following them in public".

Niña Pastori

And she did so... and before an audience unusual for the superstar of pop flamenco, in age and in style; that is, older and of more... lineage? She offered them a recital adapted in taste to the setting even in the lighting, sound and scenography (including the wardrobe by V&L style), replacing the electric instruments with acoustic ones, a practice which favored a fitting initial exchange between the singer/cantaora and the Andrés Segovia String Quartet. Niña Pastori presented herself by singing martinetes, unaccompanied. Her warm voice, wisely measured out. "And to tell you the truth...". Replied to on the guitar by her friend José Carlos Gómez, who understands her to perfection, she carried on , now seated - a posture she did not change until the final bulería-, through, soleares, malagueñas... even using the alegrías 'Sobre la arena' from her album 'Cañaílla' as a transition towards her more pop repertoire. Up to that point she had already shown at length that she was being honest in her intentions, displaying knowledge, faculties and those abstract somethings that can be called pinch or jondura or... Without breaking that thread completely and equally romantic in message, she performed songs from 'María' such as 'De mil colores', the tangos 'Aire de molino', 'Válgame Dios', 'Dime quién soy yo', between which she sprinkled bulerías danced by a six-year-old Sevillian microbailaor, Diego Cortés, who controlled himself like his elders, 'Y sin embargo te quiero' by Rafael de León, 'Rosa María' by Camarón, receiving an ovation scarcely having started, and those cantecitos through fandangos which, in her concert tour, she usually gives away. The Royal Theater surrendered at the feet of the island girl following nearly two hours of crescendo.

Dialogue of Titans

The night before there was no such progression. There was no need. Antonio Canales and Manuela Carrasco perform 'Tierra y Fuego' so intensely that the summit is already reached in the first second. With a slightly altered program with regards to the premiere at the last Festival de Jerez, conceived to favor the uncommon dialogue of titans, both flamenco dancing figures relapsed into making the value of the encounter understood. Like bulls charging out of the bullpen, they came to meet in the center of the bullring, under the light of a full moon, through romances. He danced forcefully. And she sidestepped him majestically, as if wishing to tame him. El Extremeño's lungs served to clean things up. Like a mule incarnated in a white muse, he collected the ring assistants and the bull. She, splendid. She, in command. The bullring is free for the outstanding disciples of one and the other. Coming through tangos are Juan de Juan and Rafael de Carmen in 'short suits', men dancing in their prime, savory and fresh. They are sung to in Extremeño key and in Lebrija key. Another interruption, this time cantaor, before the next encounter, through malagueñas and mountain cantes, in the wee hours. The taranto worked the miracle again. Each one a zenith light, each one a crossed shadow. There they were. Manuela dressed in turquoise and orange raising her arms in the halted air. Antonio searching for her with his feet and hands. Both composing the print of conquest, romance and breakup... but without prudery because of the personalities at stake. The dancing drifts to tangos. Close. Fade into white. Juan de Juan and Rafael de Carmen reappear to challenge each other through alegrías, a number for the triumph of both which turns out to be too long and a bit taken from acrobatics, although it was applauded intensely. By the time Samara Amador comes in - always stunning the less expert crowd due to her faithful physical resemblance to her mother - sketching out the seguiriya for Antonio Canales, reminding of Rafael Romero, the audience has nearly had enough. Nearly. The Triana-born bailaor passing the sentence is worthy of consideration, overwhelming on stage, resounding, yet a virtuoso, no matter whether you like his personal way of understanding the leg and feet movement of jondo art. Right side and... reverse. The bailaora, who repeats at the festival, also brings her trademark: the soleá. Powerful in her pose, her feet, her elegance. She orders time to stand still: she is going to raise her arms. The flame catches. The floor seeks her out. And she rocks back and forth in victory. Chest pass... When the soleá tends to lighten up, Antonio Canales reappears to share the final bulería, where of course there was room for Bobote's pataíta. There is no encore. The senses are filled, one could say brimming.

Antonio Canales and Manuela Carrasco


If 'Tierra y Fuego' was the Dionysian of the series, it could be said that 'Mayte + Belén' was the Apollonian. Far from the exuberance of the former, the show of cantaora Mayte Martín and bailaora Belén Maya plays on the strength of simplicity and managing to get more from less. This strategy, also applied to 'Flamenco de cámara' ('Chamber Flamenco'), a show recently premiered at the Festival de Jerez, consists, in practice, of fleeing from all baroque style to present good cante and good dancing, naturally. Backed by the guitars of Juan Ramón Caro and José Luis Montón, the violin of Olvido Lanza and two on clapping, all of it performed with justice and tact, Mayte goes back over the main part of the varied repertoire making up 'Querencia'. That means counting on Antonio Chacón, El Pena, La Niña de los Peines... Neoclassical cante, that is, with peaks in the vidalita, the malagueña and the martinete. And Belén takes advantage of such a canvas, between neoclassical and contemporary, to paint with all her body, with all her intelligence and with all her sensitivity, a picture of extreme beauty. If in the petenera, so crystal-clear, so intimate, she ensnares so deeply; if in the tarara she calls on the skin, so postural, so beautiful; in the cantiñas -undoubtedly, the core of the show - she alludes to the visceral, to sensory enjoyment knowing no bounds, which becomes shameless and flirtatious and naughty and sensual and belonging to a flamencura as much from the past as from tomorrow, because of its timelessness. And the crowd knows how to appreciate it... The Royal Theater, which did not even come close to filling up on that first night, had a standing ovation for several minutes. In response, it received comfort by way of the most primitive cante and a seguiriya with decreasing temper which puts out the show with one of the few creative reverses ever heard. Contemporary neoclassicism.

Mayte Martín

From flamenco to pop and back again. Dialogue of titans. Contemporary neoclassicism. A second series is closed. A third could begin to be opened... Perhaps also with room for some concert guitar? Flamenco, up to all circumstances, has again shown its thousand and one faces with naturalness, with nobleness and without complexes at the Royal Theater, the Opera Palace... the Flamenco House.

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