Abu Dhabi Classics presents another programme of cultural exchange with two of today’s star performers: Rolando Villazón and Xavier de Maistre.
Due to the cultural diversity of Latin America, a mix of indigenous, European and African influences, it has one of the richest Lied (German song) repertoires of the world. An abundance of variety in rhythm, melody and narrative forms comes together, and this is reflected in this concert programme by Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, accompanied by French harpist Xavier de Maistre.
Serenata Latina is a collage of sounds, where the shapes of these Latin American songs come to life in their sensual emotional essence. Deep longing, pain, melancholy, desire and loss dominate the palette of this heartfelt recording, which is also accompanied by vigorous life-affirming dance-like pieces.
JULIÁN AGUIRRE (1868–1924)
1. Caminito (Leopoldo Lugones, 1874–1938) — 2.30
ALBERTO NEPOMUCENO (1864–1920)
2. Coração triste op. 18/1 — 3.12
(Machado de Assis, 1839–1908, after the Chinese by Su-Tchon, in a French translation by Judith Walter)
YVETTE SOUVIRON (1914–2010)
3. Al banco solitario (Y. Souviron) — 2.27
TRADITIONAL transcr. MARCEL GRANDJANY (1891–1975)
4. Spanish Dance (from Cuzco, Peru) — 2.08
CARLOS GUASTAVINO (1912–2000)
5. Se equivocó la paloma (Rafael Alberti, 1902–1999) — 2.23
6. Violetas (Luis Cernuda, 1902–1963) — 2.50
7. La rosa y el sauce (Francisco Silva y Valdés, 1873–1940) — 2.27
8. Bailecito — 3.40
EDUARDO SÁNCHEZ DE FUENTES (1874–1944)
9. Deseo (E. Sánchez de Fuentes) — 2.11
SILVIO RODRÍGUEZ (b. 1946)
10. En estos días (S. Rodríguez) — 3.30
11. La vida (S. Rodríguez) — 4.31
LUIS ANTONIO CALVO (1882–1945)
12. Gitana (L. A. Calvo) — 2.45
WALDIR AZEVEDO (1923–80)
13. Brasileirinho — 2.04
ALBERTO GINASTERA (1916–83)
Cinco canciones populares Argentinas op. 10 (anon.)
14. 3. Zamba — 1.12
15. 2. Triste — 3.02
16. 1. Chacarera — 1.09
17. Canción al árbol del olvido (Fernán Silva Valdés, 1887–1975) — 2.13
ZEQUINHA DE ABREU (1880–1935)
18. Tico-Tico no fubá — 1.33
ARIEL RAMÍREZ (1921–2010)
19. Alfonsina y el mar (Félix Luna, 1925–2009) — 5.28
20. La llorona (anon.) — 4.21
RUBÉN FUENTES (b. 1926)
21. La Bikina (R. Fuentes) — 3.06
Through his compelling performances with leading opera houses and orchestras around the world, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as one of the music world’s most critically acclaimed and beloved stars, and as one of the leading tenors of our day. Heralded as “the most charming of today’s divos” (The Times) with “a wonderfully virile voice … grandezza, elegance and power” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), Villazón is a highly versatile artist, also maintaining careers as a stage director, novelist and TV personality.
Born in Mexico City, he began his musical studies at the national conservatory of his home country before joining the junior programmes at the opera houses in Pittsburgh and at the San Francisco Opera. Villazón quickly made a name for himself on the international music scene after winning several prizes at Plácido Domingo’s ‘Operalia’ competition in 1999 (including the Zarzuela Prize and the Audience Prize). This was followed in the same year by his European debut as Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon in Genoa and debuts as Alfredo in La Traviata at the Opéra de Paris and as Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth at the Staatsoper Berlin.
Since then, Villazón has been a regular guest at the State Operas of Berlin, Munich and Vienna, La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera New York and the Salzburg Festival, working with leading orchestras and renowned conductors such as Daniel Barenboim and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
As a concert singer he has appeared at London’s Barbican Hall, the Philharmonia in Berlin and Cologne, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the Gewandhaus Leipzig, the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome and New York’s Carnegie Hall, among others. In 2011, he made his debut as a director in Lyon and has since directed for the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf, the Vienna Volksoper and the Semperoper in Dresden.
In the 2020–21, season he is directing Bellini’s La sonnambula at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and sings the title role in a new production of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Semperoper Dresden. He is touring with harpist Xavier de Maistre and their recital programme ‘Serenata Latina’ throughout Europe, with performances at the Rudolfinum Prague, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Philharmonie Munich and the Alte Oper Frankfurt, among others. Together with Christina Pluhar and the ensemble L’Arpeggiata he presents his new programme Orfeo son io in Paris. Side by side with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, he is also continuing his concert series ‘Rolando Raconte’ at the Philharmonie Luxembourg. The third Mozart Week under the artistic direction of Villazón took place in January 2021 in Salzburg.
In 2007, the tenor became an exclusive artist for Deutsche Grammophon. He has sold more than two million albums worldwide and recorded more than 20 CDs and DVDs, which have received numerous prizes. He is also a Chévalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of the highest awards in the field of art and literature in France, his permanent residence.
Villazón is ambassador of RED NOSES Clowndoctors International and a member of the Collège de Pataphysique de Paris. His first novel Malabares was published in 2013, the second, Lebenskünstler, was published in April 2017. His third novel Amadeus auf dem Fahrrad was published in June 2020 and spent several weeks on the bestseller list of Der Spiegel magazine. Villazón presents his own programme series on Arte TV and has a daily show on Radio Classique in France, as well as a weekly show on the German station KlassikRadio. In early 2017, he was appointed an ambassador of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation, and in July 2017, he was named artistic director of the Salzburg Mozart Week, from 2019 onwards.
XAVIER DE MAISTRE
Xavier de Maistre belongs to an elite category of soloists who are redefining what is possible with the potentials of their musical instruments. Aside from commissions from composers such as Kaija Saariaho, he performs works like Smetana’s Ma Vlast with breathtaking precision, presenting masterful arrangements of works that are usually played by an entire orchestra. The interpretation of these works, that few harpists before him have even considered playing, has contributed to his reputation as one of the most creative and extraordinary musicians of his generation.
He has worked with conductors Sir André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Muti, Daniele Gatti, Philippe Jordan, Kristjan Järvi, Bertrand de Billy, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Daniel Harding and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and orchestras around the world, in Chicago, Montreal, Birmingham, Tokyo (NHK), Los Angeles, London and St. Petersburg. He has also performed with the Swedish and Finnish Radio Symphony orchestras and China Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. In his native France, de Maistre has worked with Orchestre de Paris, the national orchestras of France and Lyon, the philharmonic orchestras of Radio France, Monte-Carlo, Montpellier, Lille and Nancy.
Parallel to his orchestral concerts, de Maistre is passionate about chamber music and regularly puts together original recital projects. In 2020, he began a new collaboration with tenor Rolando Villazón, to record a project of South American folk songs for Deutsche Grammophon.
De Maistre’s performances include Moscow’s Zaryadye Hall, Oper Frankfurt, Rheingau Musik Festival, Vienna Konzerthaus, Prague and a multi-city tour in Germany. He has also worked with flamenco and castanet legend Lucero Tena in a programme of Spanish repertoire, touring Europe, Japan and China, performing in Hong Kong’s French May festival and also releasing an album.
De Maistre regularly works with Diana Damrau, Arabella Steinbacher, Daniel Müller-Schott, Baiba Skride, Antoine Tamestit, Mojca Erdmann, and Magali Mosnier. He has completed a residency at Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and has performed at many festivals as a soloist, such as Rheingau, Salzburger Festspielen, Wiener Festwochen, Verbier, Budapest Spring, Würzburg Mozartfest, and Mostly Mozart in New York.
De Maistre has an exclusive recording contract with Sony Music. Releases have included music by Haydn, Rodrigo, Ginastera and Debussy — the latter for which he was awarded the Echo Klassik Award 2009 as ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’. In 2012, his album Notte Veneziana entered the top 10 in the classical music charts.
De Maistre was born in Toulon, France, and began studying harp aged nine. He studied in Paris and in 1998, was awarded first prize at the International Harp Competition in Bloomington, Indiana, immediately becoming the first French musician to join the ranks of the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2001, de Maistre has taught at the Hamburg Academy of Music. He also gives regular masterclasses at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, Tokyo’s Toho University and London’s Trinity College of Music. He plays a Lyon & Healy harp.