pretty songs are all about love, requited and unrequited, and
the first one hooks you with its charming tunefulness. (Figueras
apparently sings a duet with herself in this number as no other
voice credit is given) I have been critical of Montserrat Figueras’s
technique in recent operatic productions, but here surround by
her friends singing these lovely songs, her voice is under perfect
control and delightfully expressive with "incredible graces"
in the Spanish style. Also Figueras the scholar provides an interesting
essay on the background of the music and the times.
life sounds like a Dumas or Hugo novel: he was charged with forgery
and several murders, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison and
to the galleys, miraculously surviving it all and apparently completely
exonerated by the time of his death when he was celebrated in
the press as having led an exemplary life. And there’s probably
an interesting story somewhere as to how his manuscripts all ended
up in the Fitzwilliam Museum, but this is not included here.
first thought might be that a disk of songs all by the same composer
could be monotonous, nearly an hour of the same sound. Most disks
of Renaissance music include works by a variety of composers.
The performers on this disk all put forth a great deal of creative
energy to prevent any sense of sameness from settling over this
concert, and this disk would definitely not make good background
music, but there’s no way around it — in an hour some of the same
phrases and gestures do recur, some more than once. Spanish speakers
and Spanish students will especially enjoy the disk because the
words are so clearly enunciated and the music follows the texts
so closely. Generally the mood moves from lyrical at the beginning
to more dramatic at the close. The program is quite enjoyable
and would make a valid live concert.
sound is exceptionally vivid played either on a cd player or on
an SACD player, but only on the SACD player do you hear the amazing
clarity and crispness of the percussion and voice. There is a
smoothness and realism to the SACD sound; by comparison even on
a good system the cd sounds just a little edgy. On the SACD there
is a sense of space — "air" — around each instrument
all the time. Because of this, as on many SACDs, the percussion
instruments play at a realistic lower volume level.
packaging is unusually attractive and this disk could make a nice