FESTIVAL SUMA FLAMENCA 2011
VALDERRAMA / ARCÁNGEL
Text: Isaac Rodríguez
“Youth and tradition, love for the art”. That’s how these two artists are presented to us in the pamphlet that condenses the numerous shows of the Suma Flamenca festival. And it’s not off-base, because in both Juan Valderrama and Arcángel there’s lot of tradition, lots of youth – a guarantee of great accomplishments – and lots of passion for what they do. Having said that, both need to be polished a bit and put in their respective places. One in flamenco-tinged popular song, certainly beautiful but short on angst, and the other, real flamenco, the kind that grabs you and doesn’t let go. In other words, the very “white” flamenco of Valderrama, as sweet and soft as the caress of cotton balls and which never reaches your innards, nor is moving, nor emotive. Arcángel’s stabs you though, with daggers of alabaster, but also without being voluptuously caressing.
Valderrama started off with a bolero written for him by singer-composer Luis Pastor, a declaration of principles and calling card: “My name is Juan Valderrama”. He continued with tangos, bulerías tinged with a political message, tanguillos (see video) and other pieces with a Marchena delivery, ending with the fandangos of his family, of Sevillano and Vallejo. Along the way, a siguiriya and a malagueña were the most straightforward and moving moments of his repertoire. His desire to please and his artistic self-confidence are undeniable, as is the light-hearted beauty of his singing (well accompanied by the extraordinary guitars of Daniel Casares and Rubén Levaniegos), but to get to the heart of the matter, he’s still got a long ways to go. You want him, for example, to let go of the mike and use his hands for expression.
Arcángel began his recital softly, and went little by little to greater and bigger things. From his well-known bulerías of “limón amarillo” he got into the caña, which is where he became strong. An excursion through Levante forms and Málaga, before reaching the port of Cádiz with some powerful alegrías, possibly the most luminous and flamenco that can be heard nowadays. And let’s not forget the naturalness and harmony provided by his guitarist Miguel Ángel Cortés with the subtle accompaniment of the Mellis and Agustín Diassera whom Arcángel is so fond of. Arcángel did not overlook seguiriyas and soleá, with brilliant interpretations, and of course, to tie everything up, the fandangos of his hometown, a sheer delight for anyone who knows how to appreciate this. With these credentials and so much flavor, it was inevitable the audience would get to their feet for a rousing ovation, it couldn’t have been any other way.
To sum up, I hope Valderrama isn’t annoyed with me and keeps on fighting, because he’s got a good voice and throws himself into what he does, and may Arcángel continue giving us his essence, as he did last night when he sang especially well. Maybe it’s because he dedicated the concert to his beloved mother and to Enrique Morente, both now gone, and to his little Enrique who is on the way.