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Infectiously joyful

Choral music from the South American folk tradition -
appreciated by

'... one of those rare discs which nearly everyone will like.'

Ramírez: Misa Criolla and more music from the South American Folk Tradition for chorus and native instruments performed by Counterpoint and friends, directed by Robert de Cormier. © 2005 Albany Records

Misa Criolla was composed in 1964 and has been immensely popular ever since the first recording was released a few years later. As the liner notes remind us, its success was due in part to the fact that it was one of the first major masses composed after the Second Vatican Council allowed the vernacular liturgy. But it wasn't just luck: Ramírez did happen to be in the right place at the right time but he was also the right person, a gifted composer with a strong background in Argentinian folk music, and the vivid colours and rhythmic energy of his Mass are immediately appealing.

By chance I salvaged an old recording of Misa Criolla when a local school music department was cleaning out its cupboards last year. Directed by Ramírez himself, this undated Philips LP may well have been the première recording. His vocal soloists were Los Fronterizos, a folk group comparable to Inti-Illimani, with a Buenos Aires church choir and a local instrumental group. Side-by-side listening confirmed my first response to the CD: the original is every bit as earthy, vibrant and joyous as I remembered from my teenage years and Robert de Cormier has caught its spirit very well indeed. What little these performers lose in authenticity and gusto they make up for in clarity of texture and quality of recorded sound [listen -- track 2, 0:18-1:49].

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Copyright © 14 September 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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