Medieval Lais & Cantigas from France and Spain
Maladança, Francisco Luengo
Brilliant Classics 95689
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]inger Maria Giménez is accompanied by a consort of medieval instruments derived from sculptures including the organistrum, five-stringed vyola, vyolón, citole, Romanesque harp and skin-faced medieval lute (all beautifully illustrated in the programme booklet). Daringly the performers open with a 16-minute account of the Plainte de la Vierge au pied de la croix, and, as it turns out, the compelling singing and creative use of the instrumental accompaniment more than hold the attention. Xurxo Varela provides a wonderfully contrasting male voice for the Recordare for the Feast of Mary Mediatrix, but it is Maria Giménez who chiefly holds our attention for what turns out to be a riveting sequence of medieval Marian music. The narcotic effect of drones and Giménez’s engaging narrative style lead us through a couple of lengthy but compelling items, concluding with one of Alfonso X’s Cantigas de Santa Maria, Virgen Madre groriosa. This is a very atmospheric and informative CD, presenting music which can be challenging to the modern listener, but which they perform so persuasively that we are drawn in. Helpful would have been texts and translations so that we knew what was being sung, but otherwise this is an admirable package.
D. James Ross
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