|Hymn to the Sun Virgin Monophonic
Take 1, probably 1949 demo of Taita Inti, Virgin of the Sun God. ( 3:38)
Recorded in 1949 and is a Previously Unreleased track
|Review and Analysis of Hymn to the Sun Virgin by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
Read more on the Legacy of the Diva Web site!
|Finally released in 1997, some 47 years later, the first take of this piece provides a fascinating contrast to the version originally released. Although called "take one", I suspect that this is actually the demo version recorded for Capitol in 1949. There are reasons why I think this. First of all it is less carefully recorded than the later version suggesting the engineers were not familiar with the voice they were working with. The sonic properties of the recording are also very different from the released recording. And then there is the fact that Voice of the Xtabay was a series of careful splices and
"mosaic" work by Baxter and Capitol engineers. There would not have been such a
thing as "take one". Also the piece itself is more similar to the way she performed the song in public than the final version for Capitol. Timed at 3:36, it is stark and distinctly odd. Also, although it is called take one, there is no symphony orchestra present, only rattles, guitar, quena, drums and
Yma's peculiar brand of singing. One can understand the recording company's reluctance to market this unusual singer and her music. The release of this selection is of prime importance in the Sumac canon because it gives a good example of her performing practices of one of her most famous pieces when in her prime and BEFORE Voice of the Xtabay was actually recorded.
Aside from some passages that are unique to this particular recording, it is identical to the starker version performed in public (no lush strings or other classical instruments) and used during the Russian tour. (That version can be heard on the Elect CD discussed later.) This first stab at Taita Inty is much more fragmented and episodic than the smoothly composed operatic version released on the original Voice of the Xtabay album. It also contains a number of short but authentic Peruvian chant fragments, including the Wifala planting chant. Top staccati still abound up to the high F but remain more in a chant-like flavor than the more familiar "Queen of the Night" ones found on the original album. Generally the piece seems much more disorganized and piece-meal than the "accepted" version. Although part of that may be because of familiarity, there is a lack of cohesiveness to this initial performance that calls out for a smoothing hand and expert arranging. One thing that comes as a surprise in this recording is an excellent crescendo on a sustained high E flat, proving that Yma did have considerable upper extension power when she wanted to employ it. Interestingly, no climactic high F is attempted. Accompanied only by Moisés [Vivanco] on guitar, Hernán [Braña] on percussion and the Quena, this errie renditon is more reminiscent of the selections found on Yma's third album for North America, Inca Taqui. It also does much to explain the reasons for the problems concerning her presentation that initially plagued Yma after her arrival in America. This is bizarre music and singular singing.