Bernarda Fink has a vibrant mezzo-soprano voice and the sense of style to interpret this program to the manner born – which, despite her surname, she was. The daughter of Slovenian parents, she was brought up in Buenos Aires. Her repertoire includes Baroque music and mainstream German and French song, but this Spanish recital does not come out of the blue: it follows an earlier release of Argentinean songs from 2006.
The diverse program, which includes many rarities, concentrates on three of the four masters of 20th-century Spanish song. (The missing one is Joaquín Turina.) It opens with Falla’s well-known Seven Popular Spanish Songs, and straight away Fink reveals her strengths: a strong chest voice for Andalusian declamation, the ability to float her warm tone at the top of her register and an understanding of the emotional terrain that allows her to hold nothing back in this spirited, heart-on-sleeve music.
Rodrigo’s gentle Adela follows, the first of his Tres canciones españolas, and here Fink presents a beautifully poised cantilena against the simple accompaniment, rendered with style by American pianist Anthony Spiri. Rodrigo’s songs tend to be spare in texture, Granados’s popular Tonadillas notable for their elegance, while Falla remains the most earthy. Throughout, Fink and Spiri beguile, delight and excite with true élan.