Notes and Editorial Reviews
With more than 400 songs in the 13th-century collection known as the Cantigas de Santa Maria, recordings of this repertoire only rarely duplicate material--and since the manuscripts do not indicate precise details of how to perform the melodies or what if any instruments should be used, listeners can expect each group of performers to offer unique interpretations. The eight-member ensemble Antequera has been performing these cantigas for more than 10 years and chooses to emphasize the music's inherently improvisatory aspects. On this recording the singers and players try "to replicate concert performance as nearly as possible" with "real and unedited" improvisations. The result
is a program that's spirited, stylish, and spontaneous while obviously the work of seasoned, thoroughly skilled musicians.
For variety, three of the 12 tracks are purely instrumental, and occasionally texts are recited to colorful accompaniments by vielle, recorder, synfonie (hurdy-gurdy), and percussion. Usually, the songs are sung by one or more voices, whose interpretations show a decided influence of Mediterranean and North African vocal styles. The singers all have distinctive, characterful, highly expressive voices, and along with the imaginative instrumental arrangements they draw us fully and believably into the ancient world that both venerated and promulgated these remarkable songs. If you've enjoyed the Cantigas from other performances, you'll find more to appreciate here in these first-rate, superbly recorded settings. If you're not familiar with this music--and the equally notable poetic texts--then don't hesitate to begin your discovery right here. This excellent package is completed by full texts and translations, along with very readable, informative notes. [3/8/2003]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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