|La Benita Monophonic
From 1943 Argentina Session (trad. arr. Moisés Vivanco - 2:45)
Recorded in 1943
|Review and Analysis of La Benita 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!
|Although the arrangement of La Benita is slight, it cleverly contrasts the legato of the first section with the virtuosity of the remaining. A vocalise of extensive difficulty, this song ranks with Virgenes del Sol and Amor Indio as among the finest items the young Sumac put to disk.
After a short introduction, we are shown an interesting vocal effect that Yma will later refine and use in such pieces of exotica as Taita Inty (Hymn to the Sun), Xtabay (Lure of the Unknown Love), and Kuyaway (Inca Love Song). This is the singing of very high phrases with the mouth almost closed - as if humming. In addition to keeping the tone high in the head, it provides a thin, intimate, chant-like feeling to the phrase. In this song it lends an introverted aura to the first phrases, which strongly contrast the full-throated, intricate high staccati passages that follow after. After an interlude, Yma indulges in an improvisatory figure. This is an embryonic form of a flourish that will be perfected by 1951, when she records Ccori Canastitay (Golden Basket) on Legend of the Sun Virgin. The high staccati are sung with bell-like top E flats, followed by another improvisatory figure, which brings the song to a quiet close.
La Benita is more complex than other songs Yma recorded at this time. It has distinct sections of varying rhythmical structures (lyrical, dance-like, etc.) and abundant use of grace notes and connecting swoops by the singer - all traditional Peruvian vocal devices. The conclusion of the piece is sung like the beginning - with the mouth almost closed.