Martín Guijarro, September 2008
Folk, classical and flamenco are historically
connected worlds. That’s how La Argentinita understood it
a century ago. And that’s how Mayte Martín understands
it today. On the album ‘De fuego y de agua’, she responds
to the request by French pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque
to provide the vocals for a record inspired in the Spanish. In
the end, the cantaora has made the album her own (even with the
teamwork). So much so, that she has even written some of the songs.
The rest of the pieces are by Spanish classical
composers such as Joaquín Rodrigo, Enrique Granados and
Manuel de Falla, plus ‘Canción de amor’ by
de Lucía for two pianos, Juan Valderrama’s vidalita
and a tango by Carlos Gardel. The one providing the disc with
unity - which it has, and a lot of it - is composer and arrangement
writer Joan Albert Amargós, an old acquaintance.
‘De fuego y de agua’ emphasizes Mayte
Martín’s most intimate and most sentimental side.
The cantaora nails the performance and puts it in tune with the
Labèques’ prodigious playing, the three of them achieving
the right assembly between vocals, piano and lyrics, whether they
are Lorca’s or anonymous ones. The fact that it is not just
a popular repertoire but rather a familiar one contributes to
making it even smoother listening.
And that even happens with the songs by Mayte,
at least for those who know her for ‘Querencia’
(2000). The truth is that her strong artistic personality marks
the identity of the disc, which projects nearly a single climate
throughout its fourteen cuts. Elegance is the prevailing note,
besides the absolute simplicity: there’s not even one instrument
added to the vocal chords and pianos.
Cultured music doesn’t come knocking
on flamenco’s door very often. And this time, promoted from
Europe by the Labèque sisters with their own label, KML
Recordings, should be congratulated. At this stage, the genre
doesn’t need any international endorsements, but it does
need signs that it is in the music world... and has been for well
over a hundred years.