Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


Music at the courts of the Catholic Monarchs and Charles 1 of Spain

Capella Virelai
Directed by Jordi Reguant
la mà de guido LMG 2035 [61.46]
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 9PX
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301  Fax +44(0) 1509 829302

This is a highly entertaining CD of popular music from Spain at the turn of the 15th century into the 16th. The union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella had brought about a growth in political and social stability which promoted a considerable musical outpouring, and the Spanish Chapel Royal positively discriminated in favour of Spanish musicians and composers, whose development was rapid. Upon the coronation of Charles 1, later Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, foreign influences reasserted themselves and composers of the standing of Gombert and Crecquillon were to make a great impression on Spanish musicians such as Cabezón, Narváez and Ortiz (all three featured on this disc). Music from both of these royal periods was collected in songbooks - cancioneros - and they give a particularly good impression of musical life at court and in the noble households.

The Spanish group of singers and instrumentalists Capella Virelai (not to be confused with the British ensemble Virelai who have recorded for Virgin) sing and play with considerable flair and sense of style. Viola da gamba, flute, vihuela, keyboards and percussion accompany the four singers who supply tremendous energy to the often bawdy subject matter of many of the songs.

More's the pity, then, that the booklet note's promise of songs describing 'the physical pleasure of love', 'loss of virginity in the garden', 'the devilry of the married girl awaiting her lover' and 'coarse and unashamed indulgence of the senses - including comic pornographic content' can only be guessed at rather than understood. I think I hear all of these enticing emotions and activities in these performances but the complete lack of translations of the Spanish song-texts does tend to dampen one's ardour. When so much effort has been put into other aspects of this production, not the least the sheer acting skill of the vocalists, this is something of a disaster.

If your 16th century Spanish is up to it, buy this CD. It is certainly well recorded in a rather reverberant but suitably palatial acoustic.


Simon Foster



Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index