This is a significant milestone in the history of the early-music revival. Greeted when it was first issued with the verdict "devastatingly ugly", it was the most extreme and concentrated example of what had already become known as the 'Musica Reservata sound'. It opened the ears of many, even if it closed the ears of others. Now that we have a somewhat broader conception of what music can sound like, it is perhaps difficult to understand the fuss that surrounded this issue 15 years ago. But then, I happen to have thought it was wonderful from the start, and I still find it difficult to sympathize with those who branded it as anti-musical.
Certainly the sounds are often harsh: in Pase el agoa, Calabaça andRead more Dale, si le dos the singers consciously imitated the sound of the shawms, sackbuts and crumhorns that accompanied them-and the results are still as invigorating as they were then. The extraordinary ability of Jantina Noorman to produce a bright, open-throated sound that was dead in tune is as stunning today as when the record was new; and it is perhaps her singing here that is most easily remembered. But the record contains much else of searing beauty, including Grayston Burgess singing the glorious Amargas oras, Nigel Rogers in Durandarie and David Munrow (in I think his last appearance with Musica Reservata) playing the Alta of Francisco de la Torre.
Anyone interested in performance styles or singing styles will want this record. Anyone who loves Spanish music of the Golden Age probably has it already.