American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who has made several memorable appearances recently with the Metropolitan Opera, is of Argentinian ancestry on one side of her family. That side shines in this Spanish song recital, which includes music from Catalonia, Castile, Andalusia and Cuba. The mournful and beautiful Mompou song that opens the disc could be considered the highlight; it is that beautiful, rendered even more so by Leonard’s dark, rounded voice.
Leonard also brings great tenderness to Xavier Montsalvatge’s “Cinco canciones negras,” which includes the famous lullaby “Cancion de cuña para dormir a un negrito.” A few other songs might also be familiar, such as the beautiful “Nana” by Manuel de Falla. I love some of the lesser-known gems, such as de Falla’s art song “Madre, todas las noches” and another song in which a mother prays to the infant Jesus that her son will not be a soldier.
Mary Kunz Goldman – The Buffalo News