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The Voice in the Garden: Spanish Songs and Motets, 1480-1550
Juan del Encina (1468-1529/30)
Mi libertad en sosiego  [1:31]
A la villa voy  [2:50] 
Passe el agoa  [0:33] 
Harto de tanta porfía  [3:58] 
Luys de Narváez (fl.1526-1549)
Fantasia Tercer tono**  [2:32] 
Francisco de Peñalosa (c.1470-1528)
Por las sierras de Madrid  [1:22] 
Ne reminiscaris, Domine  [1:59] 
Dindirín, dindirín  [1:16] 
Luys de Narváez
Fantasia Segundo tono**  [3:05] 
Ave, virgo, gratia plena  [1:44] 
Gabriel MENA [de Texerana] (?1480-1528)
Yo creo que n’os dió Dios  [2:14] 
Luys Milán (c.1500-after 1560)
Fantasia 10** [2:37]
Francisco de Peñalosa
Precor te, Domine Jesu Christe  [3:44] 
Julio Segni (1498-1561)
Tiento* [2:55] 
Juan del Encina
Los sospiros no sosiegan
Luys de Narváez & Francisco Fernández Palero (d.1597)
Paseávase el rey moro
*  [2:02] 
Enrique (d.1488)
Mi querer tanto vos quiere
Luys Milán
18** [2:46] 
Dentro en el vergel moriré  [1:31]
Entra Mayo y sale Abril  [1:03]
Luys Milán
Fantasia 12* [2:56]
Gabriel de Texerana
La bella malmaridada  [1:55]
Francisco de Peñalosa
Sancta Maria  [2:22] 
Andrew Lawrence-King (harp)*; Christopher Wilson (vihuela)**
Gothic Voices/Christopher Page
rec. Bosgrove Priory, Chichester, UK, 16-18 April 1993. DDD.
Reissue (formerly CDA66653)
Booklet with texts and English translations.


Experience Classicsonline

This is yet another first-rate reissue from Hyperion.  Music, performances, presentation and ridiculously low price all combine to make this erstwhile award-winner even more desirable than when it first appeared; if you didn’t buy it then at full price, there’s no excuse not to do so now.  If I hadn’t already made several Gothic Voices reissues Bargain of the Month, this would be joining them, but others deserve to get a look in, too.  My only question is, what took so long?  This, and several other Gothic Voices reissues which have yet to appear were announced as long ago as the 2006/7 Penguin Guide Yearbook.  I now look forward to the reappearance of all those other CDs, too. 

The repertoire here is, perhaps, a little better known now than it was in 1993, thanks, of course, in part, to this recording.  A search of a major online supplier’s website, however, for ‘Encina’ produced just two hits.  ‘Narvaez’ was more productive – 14 hits, including a Naxos CD devoted entirely to the vihuela music of Narvaez and Milan – but it’s clear that this Hyperion reissue still has an important part to play.  Of the music on the disc, only the anonymous and very catchy Dindirín (track 8) is at all well known. 

As on previous Gothic Voices recordings, Christopher Page has held to his belief that such music is best presented unaccompanied, albeit with purely instrumental interjections, here from Andrew Lawrence-King (harp) and Christopher Wilson (vihuela).  New listeners may be surprised at this, since the general practice is to perform such music accompanied, but the weight of evidence is on Page’s side.  He is, indeed, himself something of a renaissance man, contriving to keep scholarly and practical interests in literature and music alive, when most of us struggle to keep up with the most recent research and publications in our own small areas of speciality – in my case, I can’t even keep up with the annual digests of what has been written on late-medieval and renaissance English literature. 

The other aspect of the reissue which may well surprise listeners is the blend of religious and secular material, but it is almost a commonplace that the late-medieval and renaissance world generally refused to compartmentalise the two: a poem to the Virgin Mary may easily be transformed into the praise of the human beloved or a chanson d’aventure be transferred from the courtly love tradition to the religious.  The painting chosen for the cover of the CD neatly demonstrates this refusal to divide the religious and the secular – Adam being expelled from the Garden of Eden for his sins is transformed into the emaciated Christ, the second Adam, as if he were being taken down from the cross after suffering for those very sins.  Hence the title of the CD, the Voice in the Garden being that of God after Adam and Eve have transgressed. 

If this kind of symbolism and the fact that the singing is unaccompanied makes the recording sound austere, nothing could be further from the truth.  Everything here has a ready appeal and the interspersing of the instrumental pieces, on the harp and the vihuela, one of the ancestors of the Spanish guitar, makes for real variety. 

As for the religious pieces, in Spanish as well as Latin, or a macaronic of the two, as in Por las sierras (tr.6), none of them is boringly pious – listen to the extract from track 10, the opening of the anonymous Ave Maria, on the Hyperion website to hear what a beautiful piece this is; then try the opening of the following track, the love song Yo creo by Gabriel Mena de Texerana, in which the lover’s pain is contrasted with the liveliness of the music and the pun in the juxtaposition of dió and Dios: ‘I believe that God [Dios] gave [dió] you no good thing/that wasn’t designed to give me pain’.  If I’ve expressed reservations in earlier Gothic Voices reviews about the suitability of the music for someone coming fresh to the repertoire, I have no such reservations here. 

Did I say that the performances are excellent and the recording just right?  If you’ve read any of my earlier reviews of Gothic Voices, you’ll know that these things can be taken for granted. 

As usual, the reissue is as well presented as the original, which it matches in all respects except for the slightly reduced version of the original cover painting.  The notes, by Christopher Page and Tess Knighton, are, as usual, a model of how to impart scholarly information to the general reader.  Inevitably, in such a short span, terms such as ‘homophonic’ and ‘humanist’ in the renaissance, not the modern sense of that word, have to go unexplained.  Hyperion even generously make the sleeve notes and artwork available on their website, presumably for the benefit of those who have downloaded the recording.  Unless, however, you can find the recording available as a download for less than the £7.99 which iTunes regularly charge for all Hyperion recordings, whether full- or budget-price, stick with the CD – available from Hyperion for £6.99 and from some other suppliers for even less. 

I mustn’t delay you any longer in placing your order for this reissue.

Brian Wilson


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