Notes and Editorial Reviews
DORIAN 90901 (61:18
Text and Translation)
Morena me llaman; Avrix mi galanica; Ríu, ríu, chiu; Tres Morillas; Sagaleja del Casar; Calabaça, no sé, buen amor; Tu madre cuando te parió; Yo me soy la morenica; Baila, nena.
Qu’es de ti, desconsolado; Levanta, Pascual; Una sañosa porfía; Cucú, cucú, cucucú; Ay, triste que vengo; Oy comamos y bebamos.
Morenica, dame un beso.
Di, perra mora.
Tiento; Triste stava el rey David.
Recercada La Spagna; Quinta pars; Recercada primera; Recercada segunda.
La mañana de Sant Juan.
The six-person Baltimore Consort is one of the oldest early-music ensembles still on the performing scene. It employs a relatively small number of instruments at any time and produces a varied, sometimes intimate, result. This works well with some of the more expressive songs on this new release that features countertenor José Lemos, who sounds remarkably like a dark-voiced mezzo. (He’s listed as a full member on the album, but is described as a guest artist on its Web site.) The pieces are varied in subject and tone, from the usual digs at cuckolds to a couple displaying the religious triumphalism that followed in the wake of Castile’s historical ascension.
The program is one the Baltimore Consort has been performing for several years, mixing simple, popular songs and dances from the three monotheistic religious cultures that occupied the Iberian peninsula before the conclusion of the
in 1492. Much of the content is necessarily anonymous, and much else credited by tradition to arrangers, as in the dances drawn from Diego Ortiz’s
Trattado de Glosas
. Several selections are frequently played in concert by early-music ensembles, such as “Cucú, cucú, cucucú” (with some lovely tone here from recorder specialist Mindy Rosenfeld), Ortiz’s Italian-influenced “Recercada segunda,” and de la Torre’s “Danza Alta,” which if memory serves, I first heard live at a Terpsichore concert while recording it for Minnesota Public Radio in the early 1980s. “Ríu, ríu, chiu” is another perennial favorite, as is “Oy comamos y bebamos.” It all adds up to an exciting, strongly folk-flavored concert, varied in timbre, tempo, and expressive mood from moment to moment, though always played with the expertise one might expect from this group of musicians.
Some listeners may flinch at the near-rock bass line established (but quickly abandoned) by “Calabaça, no sé, buen amor,” or the full, strummed guitar chords and syncopated vocal line in “Tu madre cuando te parió” that come close to modern popular music. The Baltimore Consort may be engaging in a little
épater le bourgeois
in these cases, or it may just be offering proofs of concept—that rock rhythms do on occasion reproduce much older folk ones, and that the casual speech rhythms of Spanish folk song bridge popular music across the centuries. Regardless, if you can accept and enjoy what you hear, fine and well. In any case, with full bilingual texts and translations, and good if general notes, this one’s definitely recommended.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal