‘LA LUNA GRANDE: Chavela Vargas’ Homage to Federico García Lorca’ is one of the many projects CHAVELA VARGAS has been keeping in her wish list for years. This album reveals her passion for the Spanish poet, to whom she calls “ese rincón de mi alma” (“that corner of my soul”). This CD+BOOK was presented at Palacio Bellas Artes in Mexico City last April 15th. Tickets went soon sold-out and the act was recorded by Canal 22 and lately broadcasted.
Chavela was accompanied for this special occasion by three of her closest friends who, each in their own way, share her passion for Lorca’s music and poetry: the Spanish Martirio, mexican singer Eugenia León and Laura García Lorca, niece of the poet and director of Federico Garcia Lorca Foundation based in Madrid.
LA LUNA GRANDE is a combination of excerpts from Lorca’s poetry – 16 in total plus two poems written by Chavela herself – against a musical background of Chavela’s greatest classics. Songs like “Noche de ronda”, “La llorona” and “Amar y vivir”, performed by Chavela’s backing guitarists, Juan Carlos Allende and Miguel Peña, combine with excerpts from Lorca’s dramatic plays, poems and songs – some very popular and others
less spread. This way, Chavela hopes to share with her public her personal taste for poetry and particularly for the poet gift on “saying a whole lot with a few words”. The recording of the 18 tracks took more than one year and a half of strenuous work with musicians and producers. The featured 60 pages book was also supervised by Laura García Lorca and includes the presentation of each text with its bibliographic reference and comments by Chavela explaining the reason for the selection, supported by Mario Ávila who shared
endless evenings with Chavela at her place in Tepoztlán talking about Lorca and putting music to his verses.
Chavela Vargas showed up at our exile home in New York in form of “La Llorona”. I think we had a record that later disappeared, but not before we learnt the lyrics and join some of her songs to the many we once were taught by our parents, our friends who came by from different parts of the world, and those ones that we, as North American children of the sixties, sang in that golden age to recover old popular and traditional songs.
I met Chavela personally in 1993 when, thanks to Manuel Arroyo, she came to Madrid to sing live. That concert at Sala Caracol definitely affected us deeply, I mean, each and every people who luckily were there that night. Her voice, the way she spoke and behaved... nothing had moved me like that ever before, to the point of feeling that Chavela completely changed me, that she had revealed not only the knowledge of human but the nature and elements’, the feeling of what’s on the other side...
In those days I was filing away my grandfather’s Fernando de los Ríos papers at the ‘Residencia de Estudiantes’, Chavela’s home in Madrid ever since. The day after the concert I had breakfast with her at the dining room, we did nothing but cry. Chavela never talks for the sake of talking, and there, between us, there was no need to pronounce the things that were clearly vivid. She was living at Federico García Lorca’s former home; therefore she was living with the poet. The line between the worlds of reality, poetry and death hardly exists for her. I think that chance also altered her life and the infinite loneliness she carries has been endured by Federico and his words.
This record she has made as an urgent gratitude need, takes over worlds and characters as different as Doña Rosita , Yerma, the horseman riding to death, the poet speaking with his love or Don Perlimplín. This is not the voice of a singer or an actress. There is no acting here. The words sprout from the very source. It’s just the voice of poetry.
Laura García Lorca, Madrid, February 2012.