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Carlos Guastavino: Ya me voy a retirar

Today’s post will be a bit shorter than my first three as I am in a particularly crazy part of my week. No week of featuring “Songs in the Key of Steven Blier” would be complete without a song by Argentinian composer Carlos Guastavino. Steve first brought Guastavino’s music into life during my junior year at Juilliard and I ended up dedicating an entire section of my junior recital to his songs. Some of my favorites include “Pampamapa”, “El clavel del aire blanco”, “Abismo de sed”, and “Bonita rama de sauce”. But today’s song of the day is my all time favorite Guastavino tune— “Ya me voy a retirar”. 

The text reads:
I shall now go back to the sad, solitary fields. 
To see if I can forget those lovely eyes. 

Those lovely eyes that gazed upon me. 
And that robbed me of my sleep, 
I shall now go back

Where the turtle-dove lives,
To see whether I can find
The thing my soul needs. 
The thing my soul needs

Because they injured me
Those eyes that caused my ruin. 
I shall now go back 

To where the thrushes live
To see if I can find
A cure for my ills.
For I was injured 
By those eyes that gazed upon me. 

This song is special to me for a number of reasons. It became a central component of one of my earliest producing projects at Juilliard—my junior recital with classmate Kresley Figueroa where I turned the piece into a duet between two lovers on opposite sides of the stage, stuck in their own minds as they each think of the pain the other has caused them. I even had the piece follow Sondheim’s “Barcelona” from Company—a kind of crazy concept that totally worked. In our “Barcelona”, Bobby runs out of the hall when April finally agrees to stay—setting up the wistful Spanish ballad. 

“Ya me voy” is also a song that I have found I come back to again and again when I’m working on incredibly difficult or even atonal music and just need a refreshing reminder of why I love music and singing. It’s just THAT beautiful. 

And lastly, it reminds me of my work at Juilliard with Steve—four years of coachings that I so deeply treasured. I listen to it and I can hear him correcting my Spanish, helping me stay on my voice, leading me towards a richer, grounded, more “adult” form of music-making. 

Unfortunately, there were not many recordings to choose from on YouTube but here is one I felt was pretty good. I don’t know the singer or pianist but I hope you enjoy this gorgeous, simple song as much as I do. I look forward to writing much more tomorrow and signing off from my week of blogging with a bang! 

Carlos Guastavino: Abismo de sed

Today is the day—Song of the Day turns 3!  Here’s a look back at our first week of songs  from NYFOS’s artistic director Steven Blier. 

I have three summer concerts to give, and I’ve just started to think about the last of them: NYFOS@North Fork, Latin Lovers (August 22 and 23). This will be a labor of love for me since South American and Cuban canción might be my greatest musical passion. I’ve just gotten done casting this project after jumping over a few hurdles (I’ll announce the singers in a few days) and am already burning to play my favorite repertoire in one of my favorite venues. To whet everyone’s appetite, here’s a Guastavino song, one that finds this self-effacing Argentinean master in an uncharacteristically tough, confrontational mood. I love Carlos Guastavino when he’s sweet and gentle, but that only makes me appreciate his butch side even more. Have a listen to “Abismo de sed,” sung by Teresa Berganza with true cojones. The poem is by Alma García—and this is what it says:

The native drums cry out to me
a message of solitude,
my sadness begs for wine
to burst into song.

Scattered with shadow
that spurs on the nightfall,
your mournful dreams travel
through an abyss of thirst.

I am from Tucumán,
I am a singer,
I come seeking wine
in eyes that are warm with love;
within my guitar
grow the vineyards of song.

My inner being will flower
with the burning embrace of your kiss,
red wine of the samba
to erase your sorrow.

The happy skin of the grapes
brings me a song of sunlight;
for the night and the samba,
the light of the wine is better. (Translated by S. Blier)

Carlos Guastavino: Pampamapa

Carlos Guastavino, an Argentinian composer whose songs most often contain fluid melodies and a natural lyricism rooted in the folk traditions of his homeland. There is often a great deal of imagery in the texts that he chooses to set, and the style of his composition is derived from the “huella”. The huella is both a song and a dance style from the province of Buenos Aires, with one of its distinct characteristics being a vocal melody which starts on the upbeat. Listen for the aaccompaniment imitating the strumming of guitar strings and follow along with the translation of the beautiful poetic text of Hamlet Lima Quintana.

This is a recording of a live performance, with Steve Blier playing piano and me singing! Enjoy.

(If this recording does not appear in your email, please click the title of the post to listen on our website.)

Text by Hamlet Lima Quintana

Yo no soy de estos pagos
Pero es lo mismo
He robado la magia
De los caminos.

Esta cruz que me mata
Me da la vida
Una copla me sangra
Que canta herida.

No me pidas que deje
Mis pensamientos
No encontrarás la forma
De atar al viento.

Si mi nombre te duele
Échalo al agua
No quiero que tu boca
Se ponga amarga.

A la huella mi tierra
Tan trasnochada.
Yo te daré mis sueños,
Dame tu calma.


Map of the Pampa

I’m not of this region
But it’s the same,
I’ve stolen the magic
From those paths.

This cross that kills me
Gives me life,
A verse bleeds from me
That sings wounded.

Don’t ask me to leave
My thoughts,
You’ll not find a way
To stay the wind.

If my name causes you pain,
Throw it in the water,
I don’t want your mouth
To become bitter.

At your threshold my earth
Having watched all night.
I will give you my dreams,
Give me your calm.

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