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Christmas in Puebla
Siglo de Oro/Patrick Allies
rec. 8-10 January 2020, All Hallow’s Gospel Oak, London
Booklet with notes, texts and translations included
DELPHIAN DCD34238 [67:39]

This fine new release from Delphian concentrates on music of the Christmas season as it might have been experienced in Puebla Cathedral in the mid 1600’s. Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla was the cathedral’s chapel master from 1629 to his death in 1664. He had originally sailed from Cadiz where he was chapel master for that great cathedral to work in the thriving city of Puebla de los Angeles in New Spain (modern day Mexico). He was responsible for many masses, motets and chants. In addition he became proficient at composing villancicos, the dance based music that was popular among the distinctly non-European population of the city. The Spanish practice of having the sung portions of the mass accompanied by an array of colourful sounding instruments which has been replicated on this recording for a fully authentic experience. The CD also features some fine works by Palestrina and a few unknown Spanish composers of the Baroque era but the majority of the disc is devoted to de Padilla.

Patrick Allies and the fine ensemble Siglo de Oro have presented us with a rather joyous collection of Christmas music that is balanced between serious and profound works such as a motet and the exuberant joyous villancico of Convidando esta la noche. This particular work is sung to words like “Ay! Peace to men from heaven, thanks to God so we can shut up!” The voices are accompanied in lively fashion by the various instruments in a manner not unlike a street festival. I found the entire experience charming and uplifting in turns. This is balanced by the more traditional purity of the beautiful motet Joseph Fili David. Gutiérrez de Padilla also composed a setting of the mass under the same title Jospeh Fili David. This is also presented on the recording but it is interspersed on the program with some of the other lively villancicos.

The recording quality is particularly fine with the choir captured with a pleasing immediacy and a larger spatial feeling around the instruments. In some of the pieces I was able to audibly follow the path of each individual voice thanks to the excellent choices made by the team of engineers. The accompanying booklet has texts with translations and very informative notes by Patrick Allies. This wonderful collection of mostly joyful music is a worthy addition to anyone’s Christmas collection. I can’t think of any better way than to conclude my review by quoting the text of track 6 on the CD, Lors que fueren de buen gusto. “Three singers want to sing the new Xácara in Bethlehem. Let’s stop this racket and start singing it together then.” To which I can only add that I am quite ready to join in with them.

Mike Parr

Previous review: Johan van Veen
Juan Garcia de Zéspedes (169-1678):
Convidando está la noche (Arr. for Choir & Chamber Ensemble)(4:03)
Introit: Hodie scietis (2:09)

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (1590-1664):
Motet “Joseph fili David” (4:51)
Missa "Joseph fili David" (Arr. for Choir & Chamber Ensemble)(15:26)
I. Kyrie (3:05)
II. Gloria(4:00)
III. Credo (6:50)
IV Offertorium Tollite portas (1:03)
V. Sanctus (1:41)
VII. Benedictus (Mode VII)(0:30)
A la xácara, xacarilla(9:39)
3 Cuadernos de Navidad:
No. 1, Christus natus est (1:56)
Deus in adiutorium meum intende (Arr. for Choir & Chamber Ensemble)(2:21)
Francisco de Vidales (1632-1703):
Los que fueren de buen gusto (5:54)
Alleluia (Crastina die)(1:31)
Joan Cererols (1618-1680):
Marizápalos a lo Divino (Serafin que, condulce harmonía)(7:42)
Francisco López Capillas (16-14-1674):
Cui luna, sol et omnia (2:58)
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c 1525-1594):
Missa "O admirabile commercium"
Agnus Dei (5:00)
Gaspar Fernandes (1566-1629):
Tleycantimo choquiliya (Arr. for Choir & Chamber Ensemble)(2:16)

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