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Esperar Sentir Morir - Songs and Dances from the Hispanic Baroque
Juan HIDALGO (1612-1685)
Esperar, sentir, morir [4:31]
Kah-Ming NG and Clara SANABRAS
Quiero, y no saben que quiero [9:06]
Lucas Ruiz de RIBAYAZ (b. 1626)
Espanoletas [4:58]
Sebastian DURON (1660-1716)
Corazon, causeteneis [4:32]
Francisco ESCALADA (17th century)
Canten dos jilguerillos [2:18]
Solo, triste y ausente [5:00]
Differenzias sobre la Gayta [3:38]
Clemente IMANA (17th century)
Filis yo tengo [3:32]
Ay, mi Dios! Que fuera de mi sin vos? [3:59]
Chacona [2:24]
Juan BARTER (1648-1706)
Hazo, Anton! [8:29]
San Juan de Lima [6:43]
Francisco de SANTIAGO (1578-1644)
Que se ausenta [4:25]
Francesc VALLS (1671-1747)
Gilguerillo que el ayre [7:57]
Tarambote para duas charamelinhas [2:39]
Kah-Ming NG
Canarios [4:30]
Charivari Agréable: Clara Sanabras (soprano), Rodrigo del Pozo (tenor), Kah-Ming Ng (director)
rec. St Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, 22-24 September 2004. DDD



The baroque period is considered a rather poor one for the Spanish world after the cultural glories and prominence of their previous age. As well as the common difficulties - ranging from political and economic problems to plagues - musicians had to deal with a lack of specialist printers and publishers, as well as face the fact that the nobility was no longer interested in supporting music. Indeed, some so-called nobles even went so far as to exclude music from their homes. Patronage could therefore only come from church and king. All was not as dire as it could have been, however: the kings were fairly musical, and Philip III and Philip IV commissioned a fair amount for court occasions. It is more the case that much has been lost than little was written.

This disc presents a variety of songs and dances from this period, all beautifully performed by Charivari Agréable, directed by Kah-Ming Ng. The songs are mostly love songs, full of melancholy, yearning, desire and grief, while some manage to combine tremendous beauty with what can only be described as rather catchy tunes. The opening Esperar, sentir, morir is a good example of this. This is the only work on the disc by Juan Hidalgo - Philip IV’s chief composer of secular songs, harpist of the royal chapel, director of the court chapel, composer of religious plays and operas, and the most influential and famous theatre composer of his time.

The voice of Clara Sanabras is perfect for this repertoire – clear, slightly astringent and robust. The tenor, Rodrigo del Pozo, seems equally at home with the songs, and impresses with his vocal range – some of the pieces - the charming Canten dos jilguerillos and Corazon, causeteneis, for instance - are for a fairly high tenor. The latter song (track 4), by Sebastian Duron - who had to flee as an exile to France after supporting the wrong side in the Spanish war of succession! - contains some fine word-painting, as on the word "suspirais" ("sigh").

The instrumental dances are often appealingly lilting and light-hearted, such as de Ribayaz’s Espanoletas, and the anonymous Differenzias sobre la Gayta. All are brilliantly played, with graceful embellishments and excellent understanding and communication.

One work of note is Barter’s Hazo, Anton – a comical nativity “Villancico", in which the composer exploits contemporary stereotypes such as mayors and country bumpkins in the guise of a devotional piece of music – great fun! I loved also the glorious polyphony of Solo, triste y ausente (again, anonymous), the gentle Que se ausenta by the Carmelite friar Francisco de Santiago, and the inclusion on the disc of the composer Francese Valls – who was infamous for the scandal he caused by his use of an unprepared dissonance in a mass!

Given the improvisatory nature of this music, it falls to the musicians to interpret and expand, not just perform the works. Taking this a step further, Kah-Ming Ng has included two works of his own; one a version of a popular theatre song, the other a canarios - dance from the Canary Islands, with tunes by contemporary Spanish composers. These works make a nice addition to the “original” pieces.

This is delightful music, well performed, and the disc comes well-recommended.

Em Marshall



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