Navidad - Christmas music from Latin America and Spain
The Toronto Consort/David Fallis
rec. 19-21 December 2011, Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario
Full texts and translations included
Detailed Track-Listing at end of review
MARQUIS MAR81435 [68:02]
Navidad is Spanish for Christmas. On this album the Toronto Consort have collected Christmas dances and a style of songs known as the villancico. The villancico is a distinctively Spanish form which has enjoyed a long history of popularity across Spain and Latin America almost continuously from the late 15th century to the present. By the 17th. century this had replaced the Latin motet despite comments by a certain Pedro Cerione that villancicos “turn God’s church into a public theatre or recreation room”. For me, brought up in the “Latin tradition” and hearing a mass by the likes of Palestrina, Byrd or Lassus each week, this is music of a completely different tradition.
The Toronto Consort have been going for forty years and apparently built up quite a reputation in the performance of Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music. On this evidence their playing is very fine and they invest the music with much sympathy and skill. The singing by so small an ensemble sounds very good although my lack of Spanish can’t speak for the pronunciation. There is some lovely playing on the baroque harp, recorder and guitar in the instrumental Marizápolos. Tarara, qui yo soy Anton is an enjoyable duet for tenor and bass from perspective of observers of the shepherds. One of the stand-out tracks. Virgen Sancta is a sublime piece about the Virgin. It is followed by another instrumental Xácaras, a sacred dance that is most effective. The final Ay andar andar is full of jollity and humour. It brings out the best from all concerned.
One of the claims of this disc is that in the 17th century the musical world in Latin America could boast a depth of feeling and vitality of execution to rival anything from Europe. I would question this on hearing this music. Certainly it is enjoyable and moving in places but the overall effect is a bit repetitive and lacking in the depth that European music brings.
This is an unusual “Christmas disc” to put it mildly and certainly makes a change from the usual fare. There are good detailed notes and texts and translations. The recording is clear and captures the musicians well.
  David Dunsmore
An unusual Christmas record from Latin America and Spain very well performed.

Full Track-Listing

Juan García de ZESPEDES (1619-1678) “Convidando está la noche” [3:53]
Bartolomeo CARCERES (attr) “Riu, riu, chiu” [2:37]
Diego ORTIZ (c.1510-c.1570) “Recercada segunda” [4:00]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599) “A un niño llorando” [4:42]
Francisco ESCALADA (fl.1670s) “Canten dos jilguerillos” [4:27]
Santiago de MURCIA (c.1682-c.1740) “Gaitas & Folías gallegas” [2:33]
Antonio de SALAZAR (c.1650-1715) “Tarara, qui yo soy Anton” [2:27]
Gaspar FERNANDES (c.1570-1629) “Tleycantimo choquiliya” [3:02]
Gaspar FERNANDES (c.1570-1629) “Xicochi” [3:04]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599) “O grandes paces!” [4:37]
Anonymous “Ay, luna que reluzes” [2:55]
Anonymous “Marizápolos” (part 1) [5:40]
Anonymous “Marizápolos” (part 2) [7:30]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599) “Virgen Sancta” [5:26]
Anonymous “Xácaras” [3:49]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599) “Sanctissima Maria” [2:32]
Juan de ARAUJO (1646-1712) “Ay andar, andar” [4:19]