I'm listening to a Spanish pop-star / actress sing Lorca. The album came out in 1998, at the 100th anniversary of Lorca's death.
The cover image shows a doctored photo of her standing behind an iconic picture of Lorca with her arms around his shoulders. On the back of the CD we see what would have been the back of that image.
The instrumentation on most tracks is very commercial sounding, with drums, electric bass, and a lush string section. Other instruments on the salsa numbers.
The first track is "Son de los negros de Cuba." She does it in a son style, more or less, but with a thin voice. It is pleasantly rhythmic.
The second is "Romance de la pena negra." She sings it as though it were a sweet, banal love song, with no depth at all.
3) "Herido de amor." She does this at a slow tempo, so at least there is not a strong disjunction between the words and the lyrics. The overly commercial background gets unbearable after a while.
4) Now comes a version of Leonard Cohen's "Take this Waltz," translated into Spanish. Big surprise. Enrique Morente had already done this. Thumbs down. It smooths out Cohen's roughness and vigor.
5) Now comes another pseudo-salsa number, "Nocturnos de la Ventana." Listenable but a little sweet. Disjunction between word and music? It doesn't seem like she actually understands the words she is singing.
6) Another slow number. "Siete corazones." She does this poem as another sweet love song, with sound effects of water running. It's a poem about alienation, someone who has lost his sense of self. "I have seven hearts / but my own I cannot find."
7) "Romance de la luna." A pleasant sounding commercial background, reminiscent of 70s pop. Yuck. This one actually made me laugh out loud.
8) "Canción tonta." Slow and sweet, in a pleasant ternary meter. A sentimental treatment. Music by Kiko Veneno, who was on "La leyenda del tiempo."
9) "Muerto de amor." Another LOL number. A very happy, dance-like tempo and beat. Does she know what the poem is about?
10) "Por tu amor me duele el aire." Not the most offensive track on the record.
11) "Canción del gitano apaleado." A rapid dance beat makes this into a happy song. It is about a gypsy getting beat up by the police. I am speechless.
12) "Alma ausente." A version of one of the sections of "Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías." Very sweet sounding.
Am I being too harsh? I don't think so. I'll have to listen to other songs of hers to see if I just hate her as a singer or just her Lorquian efforts. She also recorded the "Canciones populares."
I guess I don't object to the pop music per se, or even to a pop treatment of Lorca, but to the superficiality of the approach. There is no emotional depth, no tragic consciousness. Pop music can express genuine emotion, but there has to be a genuine connection between the music and the words.