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Golijov: Ainadamar / Spano, Upshaw, Atlanta SO

Album Summary

>Golijov, Osvaldo : Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears), opera
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Osvaldo Golijov is one of the most fascinating personalities in contemporary music. His works bring together Eastern and Western classical influences and meld them with Mediterranean folklore. The explosive power of his art derives from his triple exile- his roots in Eastern Europe, his Jewish heritage, and his native Argentina. His one-act opera 'Ainadamar' centers on Federico Garcia Lorca and his tragic death; the Spanish author was executed by Fascist soldiers early in the Spanish Civil War in a place the Moors called Ainadamar, or "Fountain of Tears." The female title role is interpreted by Golijov's muse, Grammy winning soprano Dawn Upshaw.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Osvaldo Golijov has based this dramatic work around the life and death (at the hands of a Franco-ist Civil War firing squad) of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. Ainadamar (the 'fountain of tears', the Moorish name for the site near Grenada where Lorca died in 1936) is neither history nor fiction, rather a symbolic account of reactions to key moments in the poet's life.

The text, translated back into Spanish by the composer, suits Golijov's eclectic and anarchic mix of musics. At the start you hear low pedal notes similar to those that launch Das Rheingold or Also sprach Zarathustra. Within minutes we are closer to 'prog-rock' tracks of the 1970s like Led Zeppelin's Kashmir - a meeting of classical strings and heavy-metal beat - or the soundscapes, featuring combinations of riffs and sound effects (here horses' hooves or, chillingly in context, echoing gunshots), of Roger Waters. From a vocal point of view the score is deeply stained by alternations of the Jewish chants of Golijov's mother religion, the cante jondo of the flamenco of Lorca's homeland, or the Argentinian tangos worked up to symphonic proportions by Piazzolla and his contemporaries. American minimalism (of the John Adams variety) has left its mark too in the obsessive use of repetitive cells or phrases.

The effect is compelling: these words and scenes cry out for music, and Golijov delivers in full measure. While the whole is anchored to a subject of emotional power - Lorca, freakishly like Pushkin, almost seemed to anticipate and prepare his own fate - the lack of a conventional narrative is a great plus. Like the controversial Mass of Leonard Bernstein, Ainadamar is part lament and part celebration, an action of the mind rather than of dramatic events. The comfortable- sounding recording originates in performances by the characteristically adventurous Roberto Spano and the Atlanta SO; not all the cast are as famous as Golijov's champion Dawn Upshaw but they partner her well in few-holdsbarred commitment.


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Works Details

>Golijov, Osvaldo : Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears), opera
  • Performers: Jésus Montoya (Voice); Sean Mayer (Tenor); Robb Askof (Voice); Kelley O'Connor (Mezzo-Soprano); Anne Bird (Soprano); Sindhu Chandrasekaran (Soprano); José Chama (Baritone); Gonzalo Grau (Congas); Jessica Rivera (Voice); Adam Monte (Flamenco Guitar); Andrew York (Guitar); Bill Kanengiser (Guitar); Dawn Upshaw (Voice)
  • Conductor: Robert Spano
  • Ensemble: Atlanta Symphony Chorus Women
  • Running Time: 76 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary