Music in the time of Velázquez

Ensemble La Romanesca, José Miguel Moreno
62:45
Glossa GCD C80201

It is hard to believe that this sparkling recital was originally issued in 1993; the repertoire it explores, that of 17th-century Spanish secular music, remains relatively little known. Much of the vocal half of the disc is devoted to the theatre music of Juan Hidalgo, who was closely associated with the great dramatist Calderón. Marta Almajano’s delicate and precise soprano negotiates his teasing and rhythmically complex lines with aplomb – try the delightful ‘Cuydado, Pastor’ for an appetite whetter. I particularly enjoyed Sebastián Durón’s lovely ‘Sosieguen, descansen’, with its haunting gamba-obbligato’d triple-time refrain. Unfortunately the booklet only gives the texts in Spanish; with such dramatically conceived music, translations would have been very helpful. Moreno and the instrumentalists of Ensemble La Romanesca come to the fore in the remaining half of the disc, with a dazzling display of variations on well-known grounds of the period, e. g., the lovely Sanz Canarios, along with a couple of more extended fantasias; that by Salaverde is especially memorable.

Alastair Harper