> Tomas Torrejon y Velasco [PW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Tomas Torrejon y VELASCO (1644-1728)
Musique à la Cité des Rois

1. A este sol peregrino 2’33"
2. Cuando el bien que adoro 3’54"
3. Es mi rosa bella 2’52"
4. Si ei alba sonora 5’08"
5. Cuatro plumajes airoses 4’42"
6. Psaume Nisi Dominus 6’38"
7. Lamentation du mercredi Saint 3’26"
8. Messe à six voix 12’01"
9. Psaume Dixit Dominus 5’15"
Recordings made in l’eglise de Saint-Pierre aux Nonnains (Metz) on 30 June and 2 July 1993
Ensemble Elyma
Coro de Niños de Córdoba (Argentina)
Directed by Gabriele Garrido
K617 ‘LES CHEMIN DU BAROQUE’ K617035 [47.14]


Experience Classicsonline

The French label K617 has been undertaking a number of collaborative projects with musicians from Central and South America and the results have seen the recording of some amazing repertoire and the uncovering of some seriously neglected compositional talents. Tomas Torrejon y Velasco was just such a talent. He was a musician in the service of the Count of Lemos, who spent much time at the court of (Spanish-ruled) Naples in the mid-17th century before being appointed Viceroy of Peru, whence he took Torrejon in 1667. Within ten years Torrejon was choirmaster of the Cathedral in Lima, a post of unrivalled musical importance in America at that time.

The music of Tomas Torrejon y Velasco on this disc has been carefully edited and this exhaustive background bears fruit in allowing a really confident interpretation based on known scorings and deployment of forces. The singing and instrumental playing of the Ensemble Elyma is first rate, helped in particular by the acquisition of the cornett player Jean Tubery of ‘La Fenice’, whose ornamental decorations are marvellous. (sample 1). Gabriel Garrido also gets the best out of his singers, especially some wonderful sopranos who sound completely at home in this repertoire. There is more of a problem with the Coro de Niños de Córdoba. There probably were children singing in the Cathedral at Lima, but in the mid/late 17th century voices were breaking a lot later than nowadays and this choir sounds like it is made of young children. To much of an extent this is the fault of the training of those children; they may be young, but they don’t have to sound young. Fortunately they are not used too frequently, as they are almost permanently flat and the vowel production is anything but uniform, resulting in a grating choral timbre. (Sample 2) In the earlier pieces on the disc, representing examples of Torrejon’s secular music, the sopranos, who carry most of the interesting solo work, more than make up for the deficiencies of the children. The names of individual soloists are not mentioned so it is impossible to say who is who, but this doesn’t matter too much as the quality is consistent from all of the Ensemble Elyma singers. (Sample 3). These secular works in particular have a lot going for them.

At 47 minutes this disc is definitely on the short side, and the music is interesting enough that a couple more pieces would have been welcome. The packaging is attractive and a large booklet has useful information and really stylish design. It is such a pity then that the English translations are completely abysmal. The notes tell us that it is not hard to picture Torrejon "through all the documents thanks to which all western man can leave proves of his crossing in life, and that we can superpose [sic] on his compositions..." What?! This is the work of Guy Strudwick, apparently a translator, and K617 needs someone a lot better to bring the contents of the booklet up to the standard of its appearance. Very disappointing in what is otherwise a nice disc of some excellent music.

Peter Wells


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