“Canciones espanolas” = ENRIQUE GRANADOS: La maja y el ruisenor from Goyescas; Canciones amatorias; MANUEL DE FALLA: Siete canciones populares espanolas; JOAQUÍN TURINA: Tres arias, Op. 26 – Danielle Talamantes, sop./ Henry Dehlinger, p. – MSR MS 1476, 51:18 [Distr. by Albany] *****:

From the very first second of the very first track, Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall soloist soprano Danielle Talamantes rips into a recital of some of Spain’s greatest composers with such daring and furiously emotive singing that you hold your breath at the exuberance and seat-of-your-pants vocal dexterity coming from the speakers. Usually it takes a while for recordings to begin to make their mark, but not in this case; Talamantes besieges us with such exquisite and excitingly idiomatic vocalizing that you leave the listening session in awe. There are not too many debut recordings where something like this can be said.

A while back I was quite enthralled with a similar program by Bernarda Fink. While only the Falla is duplicated—good news for me since I don’t have to think about ditching one of these albums—Talamantes makes the solid and always-reliable Fink sound tame in comparison, which she certainly is not in isolation. But while Fink is studied—in the good sense of the word—and always the professional, Talamantes’s voice seems to emerge from the pages of the music as if it was her voice that Falla, Turina, and Granados were hearing when they first set ink to paper. The voice is effortless in presentation though I am sure it is not in execution, but the way she so grippingly grapples with this music, like it was all learned in the cradle, is simply electrifying.

The music is hardly unknown to seasoned songsters; if you like art song you know these pieces well, and some of the greatest interpreters who ever lived have set them down. Talamantes gives no quarter to any of them, and in many respects tops them all. Pianist Henry Dehlinger has to be given a lot of credit for the total success of this album with his adroit and sparkling instrumental partnership. The brilliance and beautifully captured recording at the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Virginia (who would have guessed?) supplies the perfect platform for these excellent readings. My only complaint is that I wish there were 20 more minutes—and there could have been.

I am stunned. This is easily one of the best recordings of the year.

—Steven Ritter