One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Pour un plaisir
Songs and tientos by Antonio de Cabezón and his contemporaries

Contents list at end of review
Véronique Musson-Gonneaud (renaissance double harp)
rec. September 2010, Chapelle Saint-Antoine, Pietracorbara (Corsica), France. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

The harp has been one of the most distinguished instruments in Western history from early times until the late 17th century. Part of its high stature derived from its connection with the biblical King David. In the Middle Ages the harp was a rather simple instrument which was only able to play diatonic scales. In the 16th century it was considered not suitable to play the more complicated pieces which were written at that time. In 1555 the Spanish theorist Juan Bermudo described various ways in which the harp could be adapted to modern requirements. Over the ensuing decades a second rank of strings was added, comparable to the black keys of the keyboard. The chromatic notes were played by poking a finger between the two strings in the main row to reach a chromatic string beyond.
There is relatively little repertoire from the 16th and early 17th centuries which was specifically intended for the harp. The main reason was that there were few amateurs who played it. There was therefore no market for collections of harp music. That said, both in Spain and in Italy there were some highly-skilled professional harpists. The Spanish played solo music, mostly improvised, and accompanied singers in secular songs (todos humanos). Their Italian colleagues also participated in performances of oratorios and operas in the basso continuo section. Broadly speaking the music the harpists played was also suitable to be performed at the keyboard or on plucked instruments, like the vihuela in Spain and the chitarrone in Italy. In the liner-notes for his recording "Harp Music of the Italian Renaissance" (Hyperion) Andrew Lawrence-King refers to a "hidden repertoire" of pieces which were published as keyboard music but were in fact not that well suited for it. Such pieces included, for instance, intervals which were too wide for the harpsichord or elements which explored specific features of the harp.
The present disc brings us music from the Spanish renaissance. In large part it was written either for the vihuela or the keyboard; not specifically for the harp. There were few harp players in Spain: the most famous was Ludovico (or Luduvico), from the early 16th-century. None of his compositions is known, but the vihuelist Alonso Mudarra portrayed his playing in the Fantasía que contrahaze la harpa en la manera de Ludovico (included in Lawrence-King's disc devoted to his art: "The Harp of Luduvico", Hyperion). Mudarra also composed the only piece on this disc which mentions the harp as one of the instruments for which it is intended: the Tiento para harpa ó organo.
Most of the pieces were written by Antonio de Cabezón, the leading composer of keyboard music in Spain in the 16th century. He was blind from his birth and became the favourite of King Philip II. Although the large collection of his music which was printed in 1578 comprised music "for keyboard, harp and vihuela", it was primarily intended for the keyboard. This in turn means that the harp’s peculiar characteristics are not exploited. This disc shows, though, that these pieces do very well on the harp. A prerequisite is the exploration of those dynamic possibilities which the harpsichord or the organ lack. That is exactly how Véronique Musson-Gonneaud plays them. That way these performances are true alternatives to interpretations on keyboard instruments. This is especially important as these pieces belong amongst Cabezón's most frequently played. We hear the Diferencias sobre el canto llano del Caballero and the Diferencias sobre la gallarda milanesa. These represent two of the main then contemporary forms of music for solo instrument.
This kind of music had its origin in improvisation. It could take the form of free invention (in Spain known as tiento), variations over a ground bass (canto llano) and divisions over vocal music (diferencias). All three genres are represented here. The various titles refer to the kind of music which was popular at the time, which was largely from the pen of representatives of the Franco-Flemish school: Crecquillon, Pour un plaisir or De Rore, Anchor che col partire. As far as the less well-known composers are concerned: Francisco Fernández Palero served for forty years as the organist of the royal chapel at Granada. He was a famous organ expert. Hernando de Cabezón was Antonio's son who also was responsible for the publication of a large part of his father's oeuvre in 1578. In the track-list Quien llamo al partir partir is attributed to Juan de Cabezón, Antonio’s brother. I haven't been able to find any confirmation of this andsuspect it may be an error.
At the end of the 16th century there were two kind of chromatic harp. In Spain an instrument, known as arpa de dos órdenes, had crossed strings, whereas the Italian arpa doppia had parallel rows. In her notes in the booklet Véronique Musson-Gonneaud writes that "it is impossible to say whether or not the harp played here (based on the double harp conserved in Bologna) would have been used in Spain at the time. But the aim is also to build a repertoire for this relatively unknown instrument, and this cannot be achieved without experimentation". It seems a little exaggerated to describe the arpa doppia as a "relatively unknown instrument". It is used pretty frequently these days as a basso continuo instrument in 17th century music. There are various recordings on the market with solo music for the harp. Moreover I would like to point out that Andrew Lawrence-King, on his disc "The Harp of Luduvico", played the Spanish items on a Spanish arpa doblada. That would have been the most appropriate instrument for the repertoire on this disc. Ms Musson-Gonneaud has selected those pieces which she considered to be suitable for the harp she chose to play.
These considerations apart I have nothing but praise for the performances. Ms Musson-Gonneaud's playing is differentiated and tasteful. She uses the dynamic possibilities of her instrument well. This way, even works which are quite familiar sound different from the way I have heard them before. Moreover, this disc includes plenty of pieces which are not well-known. The playing time is very short, but as Brilliant Classics discs are very cheap, we have no right to complain.
Johan van Veen

Contents list

Canción Francesca (after Clemens non Papa) [2:06]
Tiento primo tomo [1:28]
Diferencias sobre el canto llano del Caballero [2:56]
Tiento del quarto tono sobre Malheur me bat (after Ockeghem) [2:40]
Diferencias sobre la gallarda milanesa [2:19]
Alonso MUDARRA (c.1510-1580)
Tiento para harpa ó organo [0:59]
Anchor che col partire (after De Rore) [2:56]
Pavana (con su glosa) [2:39]
Quien llamo al partir partir [2:06]
Francisco Fernández PALERO (c.1533-1597)
Mort m'a privé par se cruelle envie [2:30]
Tres sobre el canto llano de la alta [2:32]
Tiento cuarto tono [3:16]
Pour un plaisir (after Crecquillon) [2:23]
Romance Para quien crie yo cabellos [1:38]
Tiento secondo tono [1:35]
Je suis ayme de la plus belle (after Crecquillon) [2:47]
Cinque diferencias sobre Las Vacas [2:01]
Hernando DE CABEZÓN (1541-1602)
Doulce mémoire (after Sandrin) [3:55]






























































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.