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El fuego: Renaissance Music from Italy and Spain
Juan ARAÑÉS (d. c.1649)
Chacona:A la vida bona (1624) [3:16]
Adrian WILLAERT (c.1490-1562)
Sempre mi ride (1548) [1:51]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599)
A un niño llorando (1589) [3:56]
Pastores (1589) [2:09]
Pedro GUERRERO (b. c.1520)
La perra mora [2:13]
ANONYMOUS (c.1500)
Niña y viña (c.1500) [1:54]
ANONYMOUS (c.1550)
A Florentine Dance Suite (c.1550) [4:25]
Ben venga maggio
La Comarina (Saltarello)
En questo ballo
Zorzi (Saltarello)
Lo mio padre
El tu tu (Gagliarda)
Costanzo FESTA (c.485-1545)
Madonna, io mi consumo (1543) [2:38]
Manuel MACHADO (c.1590-1646)
Dos estrellas le siguen [3:06]
Nicola VICENTINO (1511-c.1576)
Canzon da sonar ‘La bella’ (1572) [3:18]
Claudio MERULO (1533-1604)
Canzon 23 à 5 (1608) [1:42]
Giovanni Giacomo GASTOLDI (c.1554-1609)
L'innamorato (1591) [2:56]
Antonio de CABEZÓN (c.1510-1566)
Je fille quant dieu me donne de quoy (1578) [1:40]
Cristofano MALVEZZI (1547-1599)
Intermedio IV: Sinfonia (1589) [1:33]
Intermedio V: Sinfonia (1589) [1:50]
Intermedio V: E noi con questa bella diva (1589) [4:25]
ANONYMOUS (c.1556)
Riu, riu, chiu (1556) [2:18]
Matheo FLECHA (the elder) (?1481-?1553)
Dindirindin [2:15]
El fuego (1581) [11:34]
La Compañia: (Sara Macliver (soprano), Danny Lucin (cornetto, mute cornetto, director), Mitchell Cross (soprano shawm, tenor dulcian), Glenn Bardwell (tenor sackbut), Bob Collins (tenor sackbut), Simon Rickard (bass dulcian), Elizabeth Pogson (violin), Victoria Watts (viola da gamba), Laura Vaughan (viola da gamba), Rosemary Hodgson (vihuela de mano, renaissance guitar, renaissance lute, theorbo)); Linda Kent (chamber organ), Christine Baker (percussion), Denis Close (percussion)
rec. September 2005, April 2006, Ian Roach Hall, Scotch Cottage, Melbourne
Texts and translations included
ABC CLASSICS ABC 476 5955 [59:13]

La Compañia was established in 1997, with Danny Lucin and Mitchell Cross as its musical directors. Based in Melbourne, and drawing on a number of Australian instrumentalists specialising in early music, La Compañia has worked pretty extensively in concerts and festivals in Australia. This is the band’s second CD; the first – which I haven’t heard – issued in 2000, was Music of the Spanish Renaissance (Move Records MD 3225). That CD presumably had a somewhat narrower focus than this second CD, a relatively loosely conceived anthology.

On seven of the nineteen tracks, the soprano voice of Sara Macliver is featured. She is well-established as a singer of baroque (and later music); her album of Bach duets with Sally-Anne Russell, on ABC Classics 476 118-3 was well received (see review) and here she shows herself well able to handle the different demands of earlier music. She sings with a kind of pert charm in the anonymous ‘Niña y viña’ and uses the top of her voice with great purity in Manuel Machado’s delightful ‘Dos estrellas le siguen’ which, with its relatively minimal accompaniment is a lovely contrast to the very busy music surrounding it on many of the other tracks. In the lengthy piece which gives the CD its title, ‘El fuego’ by Matheo Flecha, the elder, she handles the changing moods very effectively, though perhaps neither she nor the instrumentalists of La Compañia quite persuade us of the intensity with which the fires of sin burn in the opening of Flecha’s ensalada (of which some will remember a marvellous version by the King’s Singers with the Harp Consort and Andrew Lawrence-King on Fire-Water, RCA 09026-63519-2); but at the piece’s conclusion she sings radiantly of the saving ‘pure water’ of the incarnate Christ.

As an instrumental ensemble, La Compañia can offer a rich palette of colours and tones. Danny Lucin brings an attractive vocal quality (without exaggeration) to much of his work on the cornetto; the sackbuts of Glenn Blackwell and Bob Collins are played throughout with precision and appropriate power. Rhythms are lively and properly insistent – not least in the suite of anonymous dance music, compiled from a variety of Florentine sources, which draws on popular songs such as ‘Ben venga maggio’ and ‘En questo ballo’. 

It is good to hear Pedro Guerrero’s remarkable ‘La perra mora’, with its metre of 5/2, which and Antonio de Cabezón’s version of Maistre Gosse’s ‘Je fille quant dieu me donne de quoy’, both of which elicit some expressive playing from all concerned. 

Indeed, there’s nothing here that isn’t well worth the hearing. If I have a reservation it is the miscellaneous nature of the programme, in which it is hard to discern real continuities or patterns of development. Good as Michael McNab’s booklet notes are, they don’t really persuade one that there is any very precise unifying factor in the proceedings. Perhaps the example of, say Jordi Savall, has rather spoiled us – we now expect CDs of early music to have a clear theme, even an argument, to offer the listener. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be like that. If you simply want a miscellany of solo vocal and instrumental music from sixteenth century Spain and Italy this would be a pretty enjoyable one to have.

Glyn Pursglove



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