Flamenco Mass imitation at the Pažaislis Music Festival 2

Justina Paltanavičiūtė
www.kamane.lt, 2016-07-25
Valerio Chacon and Xenia Chacon during the concert Misa Flamenca. Pažaislis Music Festival. Photo from the organizers' archive.

In brief: The concert Misa Flamenca organised by Pažaislis Music Festival in Rumšiškės, at Blessed Virgin Mary Church, on July 16 was truly Spanish, but not quite flamenco-like and slightly amateur. I did not notice any clearer links with religion, deep spiritual world or the essence of flamenco. If the concert would be named in any other way, for example Spanish motifsin the church, maybe the expectations would have been different, because in that case one would go (or not) to listen to the Spanish motifs rather than flamenco of Flamenco Mass.

Misa Flamenca stands for Flamenco Mass. They seem like two incompatible things: Mass - Christian liturgical ritual and flamenco - a fiery genre of music and dance from the Spanish south. However, there is one thing that unites these differences - spirituality. Although established in Spain, specifically in Andalusia, flamenco is not purely Spanish folklore. It is a product or interaction between many various cultures - Spanish, Roma, Jewish, Arab and etc.

The performers raised a suspicion about their nationality - they were not really Spanish, rather Russian. That was given away by their names Valerio Chacon (guitar, Spain) and Xenia Chacon (percussion, Spain). The surnames, whether real or fake, come from the Spanish dance chaconne. It was almost impossible to find any information about these, as announced, virtuosos. Their appearance just like the stage costumes did not seem authentic, not to mention that performers spoke Russian between the songs.

I also had to question their virtuosity. For flamenco is a specific genre, rich in polyphony. It consists of guitar sounds, dance and complex rhythms, performed mostly with natural "instruments" - palms and shoe heels. Xenia Chacon tried to complement the Spanish motifs with bells or rain stick. True, there were attempts at clapping and hammering the heels, but her percussion was too week, often arrhythmic.

Of course, there were no vocals or dancing - the integral elements of flamenco. The repertoire choice raised a great deal of uncertainty. It included a lot of pop music with a Spanish touch: Frank Sinatra, Eagles, a popular romance of the anonymous author and etc. Much of what you hear when you open some Guitar chill out webpage on the internet - the melodies are familiar and much overplayed.

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