Written in 1964 by Argentinian Ariel Ramírez, Misa Criolla is the Mass in Spanish set to music with a sound and structure that combines several indigenous styles. You know those buskers that set up in public markets everywhere in colorful South-American outfits with giant Pan-pipes and guitars both huge and tiny? That style of music. Misa Criolla is great stuff, sold a zillion copies back there, and I can’t imagine anyone not liking it.
It’s is a little over twenty minutes long, but every minute is worth hearing. To bring it into Song of the Day territory, I’m recommending the second movement, Gloria, which is the center of the piece and is well under ten minutes. It’s a showpiece, with a flashy instrumental intro and lots of big notes for the soloist. Leading with it is a little bit wrong, because the Gloria works better when you’ve just listened to the serene, effortless Kyrie that precedes it. So if you like it, go back and listen to the whole thing all the way through.
The text of the Kyrie is just Señor, ten piedad de nosotros over and over. There are more words to the Gloria, but it keeps coming back over and over again to Paz a los hombres, a message we can all get behind.
Back in the day when people who liked music bought it on albums, people who liked Misa Criolla usually had two; one featuring Mercedes Sosa, an Argentinean folk-singer; and another featuring José Carreras. Back in 2007 I wrote a whole blog piece contrasting the two versions. Sitting in front of the big stereo with the lights low, I’ll go with Jose because the sound is exquisite and his pianissimo is like floating gold. But driving in the car or listening on headphones while commuting, Mercedes every time, because she flows through the music like water.
Links · Spotify playlist. Mercedes on Amazon; can’t find her on iTunes or Spotify. Jose on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify. As for live video, here’s Mercedes; not in as good voice as on the recording but still a stirring performance. And here’s another that’s worth watching: a live 2014 performance in Saint Peter’s basilica in the Vatican featuring a woman named Patricia Sosa whom research reveals is, (a) Argentinean, (b) no relation to Mercedes Sosa, and (c) formerly a heavy-metal singer. I think she’s awesome.