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Posted June 12, 2013
5 stars not 3 !!!!!! I am bewildered as to WHY? the one other review posted only gave this CD 3 stars. I fully agree with his/her comments but happily endorse this CD to 5 stars. Further it gets better with each playing. Truly love anything the Blatimore Consort does. Vocals and instrumentation is truy inspired.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2010
If you think about historic recreation, you'll undoubtedly think of today's popular Renaissance Faires. In music, such dedication to historic reproduction is to be found in recordings and performances by early music ensembles, such as The Baltimore Consort, one of the finest groups of musicians in the U.S. whose passion is music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and early Baroque periods. In their new Dorian Recording entitled Adio España, The Baltimore Consort unveils 25 Renaissance gems from 15th-16th century Spain.
In The Baltimore Consort's well-curated program, there are several types of works recorded of Christian, Jewish, and Moorish origin, from all regions of the Iberian peninsula: simple Sephardic melodies (folksongs with minimal accompaniments); instrumental dances or improvisations - for lutes, viols, wind instruments, vihuelas (early Spanish guitars), and percussion; and secular folksongs and dances - or cancioneros, often classified into two categories - romances (poetic ballads) and villancicos (livelier, often heroic songs and dances with refrains). Just as you might enjoy a Renaissance Faire without being a rabid historian of the period, it can be fascinating to just experience this music without reading any historical notes. One can clearly hear the distinctive seeds of Spanish musical style in these old works. However, the succinct, informative historical notes enclosed in this CD, as well as the excellent translations of lyrics, provide an increased level of understanding and enjoyment, like taking a tour through a Spanish museum with an expert. The romances and villancicos are particularly well chosen, found often in related pairings that complement each other. Several of the finest sets were composed by Juan del Encina, considered the most prolific and popular master of cancioneros from the Ferdinand-Isabella era. Among several anonymous works, a few singular works by various composers, six of Encina's works are featured, along with four colorful improvisations by Diego Ortiz.
Brazilian countertenor José Lemos' guest vocal performance throughout the recording is a definitive highlight, with polished singing befitting the varied enchanting, heroic, and occasionally saucy lyrics. You may snicker a bit at lines such as "Be sure to satisfy your wife yourself / Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuck-cuckoo / Be careful not to be one," as I did, but if I had to choose a favorite track, it would be Lemos' haunting, fado-like performance of Tu Madre Cuando Te Parió in which he sings an especially touching Spanish refrain, translated "Farewell, farewell beloved / I no longer wish to live / You made life bitter for me." Also worth hearing is vibrant vihuela/guitar playing from Mark Cudek, one of the founding leaders of the consort. The technical production causes the CD to suffer slightly from occasional unevenness of balance, with some vivid percussion parts pushed further into the background than necessary, and an occasional microphone so close to a wind instrument to capture its player's deep consumption of breath, as well as their dominant presence in the sound of the ensemble.
Overall, advocates and fans of early music should find The Baltimore Consort's collection a satisfying journey through Spanish Renaissance music history.