Notes and Editorial Reviews
Qué decis que visteis vos. Missa sexti toni. Beatus vir.
. Regina caeli. Alma, herido me tenéis. Sacra majestad, sed preso
Joan Grimault, cond; Exaudi Nos
COLUMNA MÚSICA 1CM0226 (47:21)
The music of Joan Pau Pujol (1570–1626) is slowly assuming its rightful place in the world of historical performance.
Maestro de capilla
of the Barcelone Cathedral, Pujol
worked as the Golden Age of Spanish Renaissance music waned and the influence of the new Italian
style spread throughout Europe. The selections on this album by Joan Grimault and the Catalonian ensemble Exaudi Nos magnificently illustrate the uneasy confluence of those forces. Grimault’s ensemble mixes a small choir of seven voices—beautifully blended, with the clearest of articulations and diction and almost always satisfyingly in tune—with period winds, including cornet, shawm, ciaramella, sackbut, and bassoon, and a continuo band of theorbo/Baroque guitar, violone, and organ. A generation back, most liturgical music would have been performed
, but by the turn of the 17th century everything was changing.
Pujol’s magnificent polychoral
Missa sexti toni à 8
sets up a splendid dialogue between instruments and voices reminiscent of the great Venetian masters, with imitative polyphony contrasting with light and graceful triple-meter sections and the occasional surprising harmonic turn. The three villancicos—a uniquely Iberian genre of sacred music combining sacred poetry and musical forms taken from secular music—dance with joy, especially the delightful Christmas piece
Qué decis que visteis vos
, featuring an unnamed soprano soloist with a pure, clear, and light voice of incredible beauty.
Alma, herido me tenéis
is the most colorful piece on the album, blending the (unnamed) soloist’s darkly powerful voice with the smooth reediness of the Catalan shawm, or xirimia, and bassoon.
The eight-part setting of Psalm 112
opens with a lovely extended theorbo prelude. Both this and the Magnificat feature for the most part just choir and continuo, showcasing the choir’s impressive dynamic and expressive range. Pujol’s setting of the Easter hymn
Regina caeli, laetare
sets voices and instruments in dialogue, the forces coming together in triumphant, resounding alleluias.
Recorded in a church with a live and supportive acoustic, the blend of voices and instruments is well balanced, and the polychoral effect comes off quite convincingly. The distance between musicians may be to blame for some minor ensemble issues, particularly between upper voices and the continuo, and a few less-than-flawless vocal entrances, but the result is worth it; this is a recording with the excitement and verve of live performance, and, after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
FANFARE: Henry Lebedinsky
Works on This Recording
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