Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: Jean Louis Duzert
Mayte Martín “Por los muertos del cante”
Flamencas de Extremadura “Por Derecho”
Tuesday, January 19th, 2015. Nimes (France)
FEMALE VOICES TAKE CENTER STAGE TUESDAY AT THE NIMES FESTIVAL
Cante: Mayte Martín. Guitar: Juan Ramón Caro, José Luis Montón. Percussion: Chico Fargas.
When delicacy isn't cloying
Tuesday at the Festival de Nimes, two shows of great interest starred women; fortunately, we no longer live in the age when it was considered unseemly in Spain for decent ladies to sing or dance outside the immediate family.
At 8:00pm Mayte Martín gave a cante recital at the Bernadette Lafont Theatre. Mayte has been a revered star for many years now, currently more popular than ever since sweet clean voices are once again in style. Her singing is neither rough nor “gypsy”, nor is that her goal, because the singer has found her own path to flamenco-ness. Exquisite delivery, infallible pitch, delicacy, sensitivity and a genuine love for flamenco that shines through in everything she does. She is not content to keep to a strictly classic repertoire, but neither does she stray far from flamenco.
This need to find herself through flamenco is what motivates “Por los Muertos del Cante”, a tribute to the late great singers who “gave me the raw materials to express what I feel” as the singer explained.
She opened with campanilleros in the version of la Niña de la Puebla, with delicacy that avoided being cloying thanks to Mayte's intelligence and good taste. This was followed by “La Tana” of Carmen Amaya, a sort of gypsyfied fantasy zambra which guitarists Juan Ramón Caro and José Luis Montón, both brilliant throughout the course of the recital, decorated “shiek of Araby” style with straight faces. A melody the singer says to have heard in Mexico, and which she describes as the “Mexican petenera”, is a standard petenera passed through Mayte's cerebral prism.
Just a few decades ago, tientos were finished with a brief snippet of tangos, but nowadays the custom is to relegate tientos to the function of prelude to tangos for a configuration known as “tientos-tangos”, a form which Mayte uses to pay tribute to Torre, Pastora, el Cojo de Málaga, la Repompa, Joselero and Camarón. The same controlled sweetness is present as in all the previous cantes…and in the following ones as well…because if there is anything to be criticized in this recital, it is the insistent uniformity of the repertoire and vocal register. Years ago when Mayte was starting out, and was singing for dancers, she had a more direct flamenco delivery, less frilly. Something in that line, which she dominates effortlessly, would have made a fine contrast to enhance the other cantes.
After a guajira in the style of Juan Valderrama, Mayte interpreted an excellent series of classic bulerías cuplé in which Juan Ramón Caro offered the novelty of the famous Diego del Gastor falseta, transposed to minor key, triggering an “ole!” from members of the audience. Mayte let her voice of crystalized honey slide through liviana and serrana at a fast clip and played “por medio” (position of A), without any bumps, linking to bambera and the fandango of Frasquito Yerbabuena without a hitch, thus giving a master-class in the malleability of the rhythm flamenco singers employ.
A series of assorted fandangos, and a milonga of Atahualpa Yupanqui followed. Mayte then explained her defense of sevillanas before rounding out the recital with a lovely series of this form with the original compositions of Pareja Obregón, and someone in the audience shouted out: “Mayte, thank you for being alive!”
Flamencas de Extremadura “Por Derecho”
At half past ten at night, in the intimate café cantante Odeón, once again the Festival of Nimes highlighted Extremaduran flamenco. “Por Derecho” is essentially a singing recital by two women who have won important prizes, Celia Romero and Raquel Cantero, supported by the dancing of Zaira Santos, soloist of the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, with the singing of Inmaculada Rivero, the guitar of Francis Pinto and the palmas of Pilar García and Miriam Cantero. A varied program that included tientos, granaína, soleá de Triana, bulería, caracoles and siguiriyas, among other things, surprisingly avoided the forms of Extremadura until the very end. In fact, the first sounds that broadcast that special sound, came from the throat of Inmaculada Rivero who took charge of the general enthusiasm with her very flamenco way of singing and moving about the stage. In the fiesta final, by way of bulerías and jaleos, we could finally feel that exotic flavor we were so anxious to experience.