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Love & Reconquest: Music From Renaissance Spain

Love & Reconquest / Various
Release Date: 05/09/2006 
Label:  Delphian   Catalog #: 34003   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  AnonymousLuis de NarváezJuan del EncinaMiguel de Fuenllana,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In the 16th century Spain sparkled with cultural and political energy. The last Moorish city in Granada had been captured in 1492 and a series of strong monarchs – Ferdinand and Isabella, Charles V, Philip II – revitalised musical and artistic life. This collection mostly concentrates on tales of reconquest and courtly love from that period, though the actual musical styles represented here are more varied than those two categories (or some of the performances) might suggest. Best of all is the high, clear singing of Frances Cooper, who lends a magical starkness to the lament ‘Israel, mira tus montes’. Less happy is the male singer who joins her in terms of activity, but not tuning, in ‘De Antequera’, though they make a better combination Read more in ‘Con amores’ by Anchieta (who is famous for having been beaten up by his uncle, Ignatius Loyola, before the latter became a saint). The guitar- and vihuela-playing is delicate and poised, but some of these pieces (‘Paseavase’, for example) are based on Moorish melodies and simply lack any hint of the exotic here. For a glimpse of that Spanish exoticism you should try the collection A tierras ajenas on Zenobia (reviewed April 2001).

-- Anthony Pryer, BBC Music Magazine

There has been quite a spate of 16 th Century Spanish music on disc recently much of it chewing over familiar repertoire. Twenty or thirty years ago it was quite acceptable to produce a recording of this music in the form of a recital of variety as it were: a song, a lute piece a duet etc. It did not have to have any particular structure. Musica Reservata’s LP 'Music at the time of Christopher Columbus’ (Philips) was a revelation in the late ’60s.



Recently a plan to a CD of renaissance music has seemed preferable. The recent Collection ‘Cancionero’ from the Dufay Collective (Avie AV 0005) is one example. I mention this because it includes some similar pieces and is also on a recently formed record label. ‘Fires of Love’ perform twenty-six short compositions but they do so without any noticeable order or structure. However the idea behind this CD is interesting and the booklet notes by Jonathan Hugh-Jones who sings bass and plays recorder are quite outstanding in their clear explanation of the music in its historical background and context.


The romantic city of Grenada had been captured in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabel from the Moors who had made such an artistic contribution to the Alhambra. After them Charles V and Philip II continued to revitalise its life with a more Spanish culture. This collection concentrates on tales of reconquest and courtly love and includes a wide variety of styles.


The ‘Fires of Love’ consist of four young musicians pictured in the booklet and includes a delightful and beautiful soprano Frances Cooper whose vocal contribution is quite delicious. I enjoyed her rendering of Mudarra’s passionate ‘Israel, mira tus montes’ and of a more religious song, the anonymous ‘Virgin digna de honor’. I have to admit that I am glad that she sings more often than the bass whom I find dull and, to my ears, not always in tune. ‘Rodrigo Martinez’ a fun song about a ‘geese-herd’ (sic) is not a completely promising start and the duetting of the two singers is not always successful. Although they are more of a team in ‘Con Amores’ by Anchieta (d.1523) this is the slowest performance of this enchanting song I have ever heard. It is in 5-time and surely needs a light and lively touch so that the unbalanced phrases delight the ear more easily. Also I must add that the performance of the enchanting ‘Ay luna’ is possibly the least interesting I have ever heard. It follows a performance pattern found elsewhere a very slow start with vihuela accompaniment, then a drum is introduced under the vihuela which improvises a little upon the melody at a quicker speed before the voices enter.


The guitar and vihuela playing is poised and elegant. Particularly fine here are the Fantasias by the great Luis Milan (d.1560) and Mudarra. The ‘Pasavese’ is a Moorish melody of charm and interest but lacks real authentic Spanish sparkle.


It is interesting to recall the cosmopolitan nature of Spanish music c.1500. Josquin’s famous ‘Mille regretz’, in an arrangement by Milan, is included as it was a particular favourite of Charles V. Five of the songs however come from the ‘Cancionero Musical de Palacio’ known as the ‘Palace Songbook’ and another from the ‘Cancionero Columbina’. Complete CDs of these songbooks have been recorded by Jordi Savall on Astrée Audivis (E8763 and 8762) and I would say without hesitation that they are in every way preferable. That’s not to say that this new CD has nothing to commend it. I have already mentioned a few lovely performances including some beautiful songs by Miguel de Fuenllana (d.1568). I would also mention a fine, realistic and upfront recording in an excellent church acoustic which I have not come across before. The first class accompanying booklet with texts and clearly set out translations is also well worth your attention.



-- Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Rodrigo Martínez by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Ay, luna que reluces, song by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
3.
Paseavase el rey Moro by Luis de Narváez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1538; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
4.
Cancion del Emperador by Luis de Narváez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1538; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
5.
Levanta, Pascual, levanta by Juan del Encina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1496; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
6.
De Antequera sale el moro by Miguel de Fuenllana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1554; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
7.
Ricercada premara by Diego Ortiz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 1 Minutes 53 Secs. 
8.
Que'es de ti, desconsolado? by Juan del Encina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
9.
Tres libros de musica en cifras: Fantasia de pasos largos by Alonso de Mudarra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1546; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
10.
Tres libros de musica en cifras: Israel, míra tus montes by Alonso de Mudarra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
11.
Con amores, la mi madre by Juan de Anchieta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
12.
Madona mia by Vicenzo Fontana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
13.
Fantasia de redobles by Miguel de Fuenllana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
14.
Fata la parte by Juan del Encina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
15.
A quando, a quando haveva by Adrian Willaert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1542; Italy 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
16.
Niña y viña, song by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
17.
Libro de música de vihuela de mano intitulado El maestro: Fantasia no 8 by Luis de Milan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
18.
Libro de música de vihuela de mano intitulado El maestro: Durandarte by Luis de Milan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1536; Valencia, Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
19.
Hoy comamos y bevamos by Juan del Encina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 1 Minutes 52 Secs. 
20.
Tres libros de musica en cifras: Fantasia que contrahaze la harpa en la manera de Ludovico by Alonso de Mudarra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1546; Seville, Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
21.
Tres libros de musica en cifras: Gentil cavallero by Alonso de Mudarra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1546; Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
22.
Mille regretz (after Josquin), for vihuela by Luis de Narváez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1538 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
23.
Que bonito niño, song by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
24.
Virgen digna de honor by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
25.
A los maytines era (Cancionero Musical della Biblioteca Columbina) by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
26.
Calabaza, no sé, buen amor by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Venue:  Crichton Collegiate Church, Midlothian, 
Length: 0 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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