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Nueva España: Close Encounters in the New World, 1590-1690
Alonso LOBO (1555-1617)

Cum audisset Joannes [2:03]
Juan Pérez Bocanegra (fl.1531)

Hanacpachap cussicuinin [1 :46]
GREGORIAN CHANT Deus in adjutorium / Domine ad adjuvandum / Pedro BERMUDEZ (fl. 1650) Deus in adjutorium / Domine ad adjuvandum [2 :11]
Tomas De Torrejón y VELASCO (1644-1728)

A este sol peregrino [4 :52]
Sebastián Aguilera de HEREDIA (1561-1627)

La Reina de los Pangelinguas [2:08]
Don Juan de LIENAS (fl. 1650)

Lamentatio [6 :59]
Lucas Ruis de RIBAYAZ (fl. 1667)

Frei Francisco de SANTIAGO (1578-1644)

Que se ausenta
Gaspar FERNANDEZ (1570-1629)

Xicochi xicochi conetzintle [3 :22]
Fabián XIMENO (fl. 1650)

Ay Ay galeguiños [3:35]
Juan Guttiérez de PADILLA (1595-1664)

Exultate, iusti, in domino [5:00]
Pablo BRUNA (fl.1640]

Tiento [5:03]
Gaspar FERNANDEZ (1570-1629)

Dame albriçia, ‘mano Anton [3:19]
Juan Guttierez de PADILLA (1595-1664)

Gallego: Si al nacer o minimo [5:38]
Antonio de SALAZAR (1650-1715)

Tarara, tarara [2:58]
Juan Pérez Bocanegra (fl.1531)

Hanacpachap cussicuinin [1:39]
Juan de ARAUJO (1646-1712)

Los coflades de la estleya [5 :41]
Sebastián de MURCIA [fl. 1700]


Agnus Dei [1:32]
Tomás Luis De VICTORIA (1548-1611)

Agnus dei (Missa Ave Regina) [3:20]
Juan Garcia de ZÉSPIEDES (fl. 1650)

Guaracha: Convidando esta la noche [4:17]
Boston Camerata; The Boston Shawm and Sackbut Ensemble; The Schola Cantorum of Boston; Womens’ Choir of the Church "Les Amis de la Sapesse". Directed by Joel Cohen
No recording details given. First released in 1993
WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 62408-2 [75:26]

Joel Cohen is a master of the Early Music anthology. Collections such as Tristan and Iseult, New Britain, The American Vocalist and Simple Gifts (all first issued on Erato) are well-chosen anthologies, vivaciously performed and arranged so as to play off one against another, inviting the hearer to make all kinds of comparisons and connections. In most cases the programmes were honed in live recitals before being recorded. Here’s another such collection, first issued on Erato and now - like some of the others mentioned above - reissued on Apex.

First issued in 1993, Nueva España came relatively early in the wave of recordings of baroque music from the new world. Indeed, this has been a particularly fascinating and productive area of musicological research - especially in pioneering work by Robert Stevenson - and of recording in recent years. On CDs such as Masterpieces of Mexican Polyphony, recorded by the Westminster Cathedral Choir under James O’Donnell - actually recorded for Hyperion before the Cohen anthology - Chanticleer’s Mexican Baroque (Teldec, 1994) and, more recently, Florilegium’s Bolivian Baroque (Channel Classics), The Harp Consort’s Missa Mexicana (Hyperion) and Ex Cathedra’s Moon, sun and all things (also Hyperion), we have had the chance to listen to some startling and beautiful music. Composers such as Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, Tomas de Torrejó y Velasco (whose opera La Púrpura de la Rosa has now had its premiere recording) and Juan de Araujo are beginning to emerge as distinctive musical personalities. Cohen’s claim, in the notes for Nueva España, that "a neglected master like Araujo could compose circles round any number of old country second-stringers" now seems a perfectly reasonable claim.

Most of the composers named above play their parts in Cohen’s kaleidoscopic image of cultural interchange. Renaissance Spanish polyphony, Caribbean rhythms, texts in Latin, Spanish, Quechua (the language of the Incas) and Nahuatl (a Mexican language), African-influenced dances and much else – the elements are very various and, for the most part, magically blended. The sound textures are constantly changing as Cohen deploys his forces in ever-changing combinations. More or less European sounding choral singing is succeeded by the Negro Women’s Choir of the Les Amis de Sagesse; sackbuts and shawms dominate some pieces, guitars and harps are to the fore in others; Latin percussion is employed discretely in places. Some of Cohen’s effects are hard to justify historically ... which doesn’t stop them being richly enjoyable. It seems unlikely, for example, that male and female voices would have been heard together in the performance of the music of the church.

There are other quibbles one might make – about the relative vagueness of the anthology’s geographical focus, for example, since the title suggests that this is a collection of Mexican music but much of it was composed elsewhere (e.g. in Peru). But one forgets one’s quibbles in the sheer pleasure to be had from much of the music as it is here performed. Particular pleasures include Tomas de Torrejón y Velasco’s A este sol peregrino, a sprightly celebration of light both divine and literal; Lienas’ setting from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, a piece of grave and moving beauty; a delightful little Pabanas (a kind of pavan) by Lucas Ruis de Ribayaz, played on a double strung harp, an exquisite lullaby (Xicochi xicochi conetinzle) by Gaspar Fernandez and Juan Garcia de Zéspiedes’ Conviando esta la noche which brings the CD to a radiantly celebratory conclusion. But, in truth, there isn’t a boring track.

There are very useful notes and texts and translations are provided. The recorded sound is bright and detailed. The only objection one might raise is to do with its very nature as an anthology – it tempts one into wanting more of particular composers or styles. A good anthology like this is both rewarding and frustrating – the frustration, indeed, is paradoxically a measure of how good it is. Even given the availability now of fuller accounts of some of the kinds of music sampled here by Cohen, it would be wrong to think of Nueva España as superseded by its successors. There is much that fascinates and delights to be heard here.

One small puzzle, incidentally, is that in its documentation the CD is sometimes called Nueva España and sometimes Nueva Española.

Glyn Pursglove



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