135:16 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)
Brilliant Classics 95618
Gonzalo de Baena’s keyboard method involves intabulating polyphonic music from instrumental and vocal sources into a series of letters to allow them to be played easily on the keyboard, and as the first such book to be published on the Iberian peninsula it is doubly important as a window on how keyboard players thought and worked and also as an invaluable source of material. Unfortunately, due (of all things) to misfiling in the Palacio Real library in Madrid, it remained unknown to modern musicology until 1992. Playing the 1685 organ by Joseph de Sesma in the Church of Santa Ana, Brea de Aragón and the modern Gerhard Grenzing organ, based on 17th-century Spanish models, in the Church of San José, Navalcarnero and reading from Baena’s tablature, Bruno Forst presents a cross-section of the material in the book. This includes music by composers such as Morales who were still alive when Baena compiled his collection, as well as music by Baena himself and by his son Antonio, but includes mainly the great Flemish composers from previous generations such as Ockeghem, Compère, Josquin, Obrecht, de Fevin, Brumel, Caron and Agricola. Unlike the Scottish book of composition, “The Art of Music”, from the second half of the 16th century, Baena includes entire pieces rather than relatively brief examples, suggesting perhaps that his Method served the additional purposes of preserving the earlier repertoire and making it available to organists of the mid-century. Forst is an authoritative guide through this repertoire, making intelligent decisions on timbre and providing subtle and appropriate ornamentation.
D. James Ross
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