CD Reviews (The Straits Times, May 2011)




MEXICO!
ROLANDO VILLAZON, Tenor / Bolivar Soloists
Deutsche Grammophon 477 8769 / ****1/2


There cannot be a music lover who does not know a few Mexican songs. Here is a collection of the most popular, sung with passion by the Mexican operatic tenor of the moment, and more. Not only does Rolando Villazon infuse these mostly love songs such as Agustin Lara’s Solamente Una Vez and Alfonso Oteo’s Un Viejo Amor with hot-blooded fervour but also rises to plethoric climaxes in full-throated glory. One also marvels at his ringing long-held notes in Tomas Mendez’s Cucurucucu, Paloma. Not bad for one recovering from debilitating vocal cord polyps.

Did anyone know that the composer of the familiar Besame Mucho was a woman, one Consuelo Velazquez? Or that Maria Grever, who wrote Despedida and the delectable Te Queiro, Dijiste, was a student of Debussy? One also gets to hear Manuel Ponce’s Estrellita, more commonly heard in arrangements, in its original guise. Simply lovely, whatever the version. To close, Quirino Mendoza’s Cielito Lindo, the catchy song that goes “Ai yai yai yai…”, and the ubiquitous La Cucaracha catch Villazon in his element. The Bolivar Soloists and guests, more than a folk ensemble, also impress with excellent instrumentals. Mucho enjoyable.