Miércoles de Tinieblas

Ensemble Semura Sonora directed by Clara Espinosa Encinas & Lucien Julien-Laferrière
Seuletoile SE 07

This CD presents a set of Lamentations and a Miserere associated with Zamora Cathedral in Castilla y León in Spain by two composers new to me, Juan Garcia Salazar and his student, Alonso Tomé Cobaleda. The music demonstrates the quirky charm of late-17th- and early-18th-century Spanish composition and is performed with passion and musicality by the voices and instruments of the Ensemble Semura Sonora. There are impressive solo performances from alto Gabriel Diaz Cuesta as well as some engaging ensemble singing, ably supported by the instrumental ensemble. From the outset, I felt that a more resonant acoustic might have served this cathedral music better, and this became more apparent in the more lavishly scored numbers. Having said that, the occasionally pinched sound didn’t interfere too much with my enjoyment of this unusual repertoire, and the Ensemble Semura Sonora played and sang idiomatically and expressively. Particularly striking was the very pure and penetrating soprano singing, interacting wonderfully with the cornetto. The lack of an English translation and my limited French put much of the programme note out of my reach, but the internet served well to introduce these two very capable composers to me.

D. James Ross

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