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Reviews of the album Once Canciones de Diego Luzuriaga

     “Hanchard puts a voice well schooled in the Baroque to compelling use in Luzuriaga’s short, bittersweet song sequence. Diego Luzuriaga (b. 1955), originally from Ecuador, uses elements from music of several other South American countries in this sequence of 11 songs. People familiar with music of the Andes will recognize some of the melodic forms. Although the moods seem to hark back to the traditional guitar-accompanied songs that have come from South America, the poetry is modern. Dana Hanchard first started singing with Luzuriaga when they were both students in New York in the 1980s.

Although she has specialized in the Baroque repertory, her voice and dramatic sense meld perfectly into the more relaxed, folk-tinged style required here. Bill Girolamo is joined by the composer for a couple of songs that have two-guitar accompaniment. The music is on the cusp between concert hall and cabaret. At only 40 minutes […] it is a beautiful, haunting disc.”

Patrick O’Connor, Gramaphone, England, September 5, 2001

     “Diego Luzuriaga’s “Once Canciones: Eleven Songs” (Fertile Ground Music) are the simplest of all these pieces [Tan Dun’s and George Rochberg’s], but their joys go even deeper. Luzuriaga wrote his own words for these melancholy and affecting songs about children, family, and the ordinary trials of life, and their dressed-down style will be as attractive to Jobim fans as they will to lovers of classical art song.”

Russell Plat, The New Yorker, August 28, 2001

     “Here’s a sleeper. Diego Luzuriaga is not a famous composer, soprano Dana Hanchard is best-known as a Baroque specialist, and Fertile Ground Music is an exceptionally obscure label. But these Latin American songs are absolute charmers, and Hanchard’s performances are exquisite. Though Luzuriaga is Ecuadorian by birth, his music incorporates a wide variety of popular and folkloric styles from all over Latin America. Accompanied softly and simply by guitar, with an occasional dab of percussion, the mood here is steadfastly intimate and unapologetically sentimental. “These songs were born, in a way, effortlessly,” Luzuriaga writes in the liner notes, “without commissions or deadlines, and were inspired by my friends, my kids, my life and things dear to me.” This effortlessness is audible in the music’s natural unfolding and in the way melody and words (also by the composer) seem inextricably bound together. Hanchard’s voice has an appropriately dark, earthy quality, with a quick, tremulous vibrato. She sings with a natural-sounding rhythmic fluidity that sounds convincingly improvisational, greatly enhancing the expressive power of these songs. She wraps herself in the music the way an actress assumes a character. In “Bendita la tierra” (Blessed be the Earth), for example, she allows her ardor to build gradually until the final lines, “El recuerdo es la única cosa que me mata, corazón necio” (Remembering is the only thing that kills me, stubborn heart), which are given an almost unbearable intensity of feeling.

Guitarist Bill Girolamo provides the atmospheric if somewhat deferential accompaniment, and the recording quality is first-class. This is an unusually beautiful and touching album.”

Andrew Farach-Colton, Opera News, August 2001

     “One of the most thrilling discoveries I’ve made lately is Once Canciones, a collection of lullabies and love songs by Diego Luzuriaga, made by soprano Dana Hanchard. Luzuriaga has a remarkable lyric gift; his melodies are intimate and delicate, but impassioned; they also have the feeling of durability.”

Brian Kellow, Opera News, September 2001

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