A lovely concert by the Lebrija guitarist closes out the 26th edition of Ciutat Flamenco in Barcelona
Silvia Cruz Lapeña
Rycardo Moreno got his fill of working at the Ciutat Flamenco festival accompanying Arcángel and the Voces Búlgaras, in addition to Jorge Pardo in the concert he gave at the Sala Apolo with his Djinn, but there’s no doubt that last night was his night, because the Lebrija musician was alone at last, with his latest record, aGaleano, and it turned out to be the best possible closing for a festival celebrating its 25th anniversary.
What Moreno also presented in Barcelona, at long last, was an album born of ten micro-stories from El Libro de los Abrazos by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. If anyone is wondering what a flamenco musician is doing in these parts, go to Moreno’s concerts and you’ll see clearly the relevance of this choice. Because that’s the first thing an artist ought to ask when latching onto another to bring out a new work born from another already established one. And listening to Moreno and his companions, you get the feeling that aGaleano was a necessity, the way Federico García needed no excuses to put it to guitar, Galeano might seem strange por soleá, and yet he doesn’t.
Not because Galeano is a particularly admired writer, and yet, at times, very obvious. And that’s precisely what Moreno irons out with his work, because he manages new shine and tension, which puts the work in another register and geography. What Galeano had to say was worthwhile for the whole world and at every moment, but Moreno’s translation puts it in another decade, also in our territory and our codes, and that’s why he brings it close.
Saying something different
Galeano was precise and frugal, with very little he said a lot, which is why flamenco suits him well, but it’s also true that that translation would not have been possible in other more obvious hands. It would have been easy to mix sugar with sugar, but Moreno chose to accompany the Uruguayan with acid and salt, giving the sweetest verses difficult music and adding warmth, even laughter, when the message was a hard one. What Rycardo has done is what is commonly known as getting in deep, thank you Moreno, it’s taking one step forward, speaking with the words of others, the way we all do, and managing to say something different. That miracle.
“The fleas dream of buying a dog, and the nobodies dream of freedom from poverty”
That’s one of the verses chosen by the guitarist for the singer, Lela Soto. What could be better than a gypsy woman to sing about the misery of life that Galeano narrated with universal aspirations but with an accent from Río de la Plata to turn them into lamentations that are interpreted differently at home. The Jerez singer showed the Barcelona audience a lyrical singer, because she’s already a flamenco singer, and she was delicate, well-tuned and communicative, as was Dani Bonilla, who accompanied Moreno on guitar and Lela vocally, even sounding momentarily like a crooner-cantaor seducer who triggered applause from Rycardo himself, and the audience soon followed his example.
The show, divided in three parts, included the drums of Marc Miralta in the first two, who ought to appear more before flamenco fans. The third part was the most flamenco, although to say as much is to offend Moreno who, no matter how much he plays with a pick or plugs his guitar in, continues to be and to sound flamenco in everything he does. At this point of the show, Rycardo had already subordinated Galeano and all Latin America, which he appeared to tread upon on tiptoe with his pick in the rhythm of abandolao and bulerías, with Caribbean airs and always as suggestive as a good tango.
“The octopus has the eyes of the fisherman who pierces him.
The man who will be consumed by the earth is of earth that feeds him…”
Thus sang Lela Soto as Rycardo couldn’t even keep track counting all the spectators he had eating out of his hand. Because sometimes all it takes is music, making music, thinking about it a little, bringing it out with feeling, and if a verse is overwhelming, let it go and someone else can translate it. Such was not the case with Rycardo, thank god, the words of Galeano stuck to his fingers without becoming insipid, obvious or self-evident. And if the message was ash, because the world is ash, the Uruguayan knew this all too well, it’s also because of love, and the performance of the Lebrija interpreter ended with love. Almost with alegrias, because there are hints of that, because to criticize and point fingers isn’t forgetting that the world turns, that children continue to be born and you have to not only give them food, but hope as well.
If anyone’s looking for a name for what this man does, stop looking: it’s flamenco, the language that dominates and which is translated to Galeano or whatever else he pleases. That’s why his concert became the best possible closing for a festival that had a certain home-made feel, not only because it took over the city, but because it included many local artists, ole!, and because the Lebrija guitarist is already at home in Barcelona where he’s been living and working, and from where he says to be distancing himself for a time. Only for a time he confirms. Let’s hope so, Moreno.
Photo Gallery by Maud Sophie Andrieux