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Flores españolas - Music for Viol Consort and Guitar
Maria Ferré (guitar)
Les Escapades
rec. 2017, Catholic parish church Herz-Jesu, Karlsruhe, Germany DDD

Music for a consort of viols is almost exclusively associated with England. Spanish music doesn't often appear in the programmes of today's viol or recorder consort. Spanish composers certainly wrote instrumental music for more than one instrument, but not specifically for a consort of instruments of the same family. Fairly recently I reviewed the first disc of the recorder consort Seldom Sene, which also played Spanish music (review). The largest part of its programme consisted of vocal music, both secular and sacred. In fact, all music based on counterpoint can be played on a consort of instruments. That includes keyboard music: Seldom Sene recorded several pieces by the main composer of keyboard music of 16th-century Spain: Antonio de Cabezón. Keyboard music, and more specifically music written for organ, is the core of the programme recorded by the German viol consort Les Escapades.

In 2015 the ensemble performed at the Early Music Festival in Daroca, where another famous organist worked all his life: Pablo Bruna. The festival's director, the organist José Luis González Uriol, was responsible for the modern edition of the complete organ works by Bruna. Through him Les Escapades made acquaintance with the Spanish organ repertoire, and decided to perform this music on their viols. This resulted in the present discs, in which the main composers of organ music are represented.

Antonio de Cabezón's keyboard music was published posthumously by his son Hernándo. A part of this collection comprises diferencias - variations - on sacred subjects or popular songs. The pieces included here rank among his most famous compositions. The Pavana Italiana is also a set of variations: its subject is the song known in Italy as La Monica, and frequently arranged by composers across Europe. Although Cabezón was an organist by profession, the title of the collection indicates that his music can also be played on harp or on a plucked instrument. This indicates that composers at the time were rather pragmatic in regard to the choice of instruments.

The programme opens with a pair of dances by Luys de Milán. His Pavana y Gallarda are probably taken from his main collection of music, El maestro, which includes the first printed music for the vihuela, a plucked instrument exclusively played in Spain. The performance by Les Escapades and guitarist Maria Ferré shows that it perfectly suits an instrumental consort.

Tientos represent one of the main genres of Spanish keyboard music. The tiento is comparable with the fantasia or the ricercare. The addition de falsas refers to chromaticism and dissonances. They come off especially well if the instruments are tuned in meantone temperament. Sabine Weber, in her liner-notes, mentions that such a tuning can be realised on viols by means of split frets. Three tientos de falsas are included here, two by Bruna and one by Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia, one of the main composers of organ music of the generation between Cabezón and Bruna. The latest composer in the programme is Joan Cabanilles, the most versatile and productive composer of organ music of his time in Spain. Currently his entire keyboard works are being recorded by Timothy Roberts (review).

Obviously a composer who cannot be omitted in a programme with music for viols is Diego Ortiz. Although he composed some sacred vocal music, his fame stems entirely from his treatise Trattado de glosas, which is about the art of diminution and ornamentation. In contrast to what one may expect, the reader is not expected to improvise or to add ornaments at sight. Instead Ortiz offers many written-out ornaments. The recercadas included here are specimens of this art and scored for solo viol with accompaniment.

The vihuela and the guitar played a major role in Spanish music of the renaissance and the baroque periods. Maria Ferré participates in some of the consort music, but mainly plays solo pieces. Gaspar Sanz is by far the most famous composer of guitar music of the late 17th century. Many pieces of the 16th and 17th centuries were included in treatises, such as the one by Ortiz just mentioned. Sanz's guitar compositions are also from a treatise: his Instrucción de música was reprinted many times; the earliest surviving edition dates from 1674. Most of the 90 pieces in this treatise are based on dance forms. The next generation of guitar composers is represented by Santiago de Murcia.

It is refreshing to hear a programme with music for a consort of viols from a different region. Nothing against English consort music, but there are so many discs with that same repertoire on the market that a recording of a different kind of music and in a different style is most welcome. The programme has been put together intelligently; all the pieces are perfectly suited for an ensemble of viols and the inclusion of a number of pieces for solo guitar results in a nice variety. Les Escapades produce a full and warm sound, which does in no way compromise its transparency. The harmonic pecularities are clearly noticeable. Maria Ferré delivers lively and rhythmically vital interpretations of the guitar items.

In short, this is a highly entertaining disc which sheds an interesting and different light on Spanish music of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Johan van Veen

Luys DE MILAN (c1500-1561)
Pavana y Gallarda [3:24]
Pablo BRUNA (1611-1679)
Tiento de falses de primer tono [2:55]
Gaspar SANZ (1640-1710)
Hachas [2:24]
Diego ORTIZ (c1510/25-1570)
Recercada IV
Obra de 5° tono por Ce sol fa ut [3:43]
Antonio DE CABEZÓN (1510-1566)
Diferencias sobre el canto de llano del Cavallero [2:35]
Tiento de falsas de segundo tono [4:56]
Juan DEL ENCINA (1468-1529)
Fata la parte [1:46]
Diferencias sobre el canto de La Dama le demanda [2:49]
Gaspar SANZ
Rugero y Paradetas [2:22]
Sebastián AGUILERA DE HEREDIA (1561-1627)
Tiento de 4° tono de falsas [3:24]
Recercada ottava [2:02]
Francisco DE LA TORRE (1470-1520)
Danza alta [1:15]
Gaspar SANZ
Mariçapalos [3:52]
Jacaras [2:19]
Pavana Italiana [2:24]
Diferencias sobre el Galliarda Milanese [2:36]
Gaspar SANZ
Folias [1:58]
Hespanoleta [2:09]
Juan CABANILLES (1644-1712)
Pasacalles [2:23]
Santiago DE MURCIA (1673-1739)
Gallardas [3:52]
Diferencias sobre las Folias [5:40]


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