Francisco del Pino, “Decir”
By Peter Margasak · May 19, 2021

Argentine composer and guitarist Francisco del Pino, currently a PhD candidate in the composition department at Princeton University, achieves a stunning art-song hybrid on the first album to be released under his own name. The endeavor is deeply collaborative. Argentine poet Victoria Cóccaro provides lyrics for the astonishing voice of Cecilia Pastorino, whose dual fluency in classical and folkloric traditions make her a simpatico choice to interpret del Pino’s music. Live performances are further enhanced by video projections created by artist Maximiliano Bellmann.

Across seven movements, the Spanish-language texts observe interactions in the physical world, both natural and human-driven, and bring poetic language to various intersections between elements, humanity, and landscape. Cóccaro applies her gorgeous soprano judiciously, focusing on del Pino’s melodic generosity rather than hollow technique, and articulating the folk-like melodies without fuss or meaningless ornamentation. The lean arrangements combine the composer’s electric guitar with the percussion of Daniela Cervetto and the viola of Pablo Jivo, producing a shimmering yet direct beauty on the opening ballad “La puerta.” “El campo” deploys cycling arpeggios that wouldn’t be out of place on a Radiohead tune—even if the refined melody sounds liturgical. As the album unfolds, the tension increases. “La piedra” begins with Cóccaro reciting her own words over Cervetto’s ritualistic tom-tom patterns, soon joined by Pastorino’s operatic responses and flinty guitar and viola patterns. Even if one can’t understand the lyrics on Decir, the album’s sheer beauty leaves a deep, lasting impression that only grows more resonant as the small details emerge from the meditative din.

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