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Juan Diego Flórez’s Bésame Mucho, at first glance a naff crossover album, is in fact a sincere and fascinating celebration of Latin American song. Flórez is already known for his unpretentious encores when he often accompanies himself on guitar and sings a popular Spanish number familiar from his childhood, so this recording is a logical extension. The booklet makes a strong case for an operatic voice in this music, pointing out that trained voices performed these songs before the rise of microphone usage in the’30’s, plus the interrelationships between opera and popular artists, citing Carlos Gardel’s meetings with Caruso and Ruffo when they sang in Buenos Aires. And successful it is too, with Flórez’s voice intertwining elegantly with the rhythmic combo for each song. A couple of tenorial flourishes aside, he contrasts smoothness with snappy delivery and clear enunciation across such classics as Cucurrucucú, Guantanamera and Volver, and the swaying Aquarela do Brasil, in which his Brazilian Portuguese is pretty immaculate. (Cynic that I am, I checked with Brazilian friends.) ¡Que disfruten!

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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