Text: Silvia Cruz Lapeña
Photos: Alberto Vega (CAF)
January 24th, 2013 – Cúpula las Arenas (Barcelona) – Catalunya Arte Flamenco
Straight-ahead Mayte Martin
On Thursday, January 24th, Mayte Martín closed out the fourth Catalunya Arte Flamenco festival with a debut titled “Por los Muertos del Cante”. It was held in the cupula of the Arenas in Barcelona, a somewhat uncomfortable insipid venue which the singer immediately turned into a haven. She had previously stated she was going to do something very personal, and you could see she was nervous. Not in her voice, which she managed just fine, better than ever, but in her body language and facial expressions.
She started out with campanilleros, and it was a shock. No one expected her to begin like that, but it was a good shot. Mayte sang almost crying, modulating her voice at will. Always elegant and sweet, her voice broke, lamented and wept. And she did it standing up, paying tribute to the deceased singers she was about to bring back to life. First was la Niña de la Puebla and peteneras, and although Martín’s father taught her this cante, it conjured up Chacón and brought him back from the grave.
“Come and heal my pain
if you don’t do it, no one will”
With each cante she recalled several maestros of the past…for tientos she invoked Pastora Pavón and Chacón again, and for the tango finish she brought back Repompa herself. Mayte relaxed and began to enjoy herself, and seemed playful. Then she moved on to Valderrama and sang to Juanito emulating all the gentle swing he used to give his singing. Guajiras no less, and making it appear easy.
Mayte went from one extreme to another, she sang to Andalusia, to Antonio Machín, to Atahualpa Yupanqui. She turned republican, singing to the bridge of Triana and its banners, then went on to interpret the Romance de la Reina Mercedes. She got her men singing, without amplification and with absolute respect, evoking Enrique Morente whom she misses so much…
“Lover of mine, even my eyelashes
get in the way when I look at you”
She also sang bulerías and fandangos, surprising us all when she ended with a personal journey through sevillanas in a tribute to the unique Manuel Pareja Obregón.
Quixote or Mayte
Martín brought a thoroughly intímate personal show. It’s a journey that has taken Mayte inside herself, into her background and taste, a rapport with those artists who taught her things that were worthwhile. A quixotic venture, or perhaps it’s pure Mayte to have set out on a path that has caused her to grow.
She came with her faithful backup: a measured restrained Chico Fargas, and José Luis Montón, tremendous on guitar, just as Juan Ramón Caro who reads the singer without even needing to look at her. They all supported her tasteful arabesques, showing that anything can be done if it’s done well.
Mayte took no shortcuts, not one easy route, no detours. She got right into the mud, dirtied her hands, dressed in black and didn’t lose her mind, no: she became a windmill and turned into a giant. As an artist, Mayte Martín has never had it easy, but last night she stripped right down to the basics. And in the end, the enthralled audience softly sang the campanilleros along with her as if they were praying, thus coming full circle.
Chico Fargas wiped a tear from his cheek after the encore. And I can tell you he was not the only one.