Sunday, May 06, 2007

Misa Mexicana

There's been a recent spate of commercially successful recordings of Hispanic baroque music.

This latest offering from Andrew Lawrence-King and the Harp Consort on Harmonia Mundi juxtaposes parts of a mass composed by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, Puebla Cathedral's Málaga-born chapel master (from 1629) with examples of the popular dance-forms of Iberian, African and indigenous lineage.

These include the villancico, and the xácara, which Andrew Lawrence King explains in his notes, was "sung in the dialect of the back streets of Madrid and traditionally accompanied by an ensemble of guitarists dressed in black Spanish cloaks, with daggers hidden in their sleeves."

Lawrence King also perfectly captures the wider appeal of the Latin American baroque as "the complex cross-currents of conservatism and experiment, of naïveté and sophistication, high and low art, intellectualism and sensuality." Indeed, you can get a similar kind of buzz from admiring Guatemala's great baroque churches and the modern rituals performed in and around them, where stodgy formal piety is often still jauntily syncopated with colloquial spontaneity.

Other highly-recommendable disks in this genre are Bolivian Baroque by Florilegium, a compilation of choral pieces by Domenico Zipoli with a number of anonymous compositions. Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla and Zipoli's music also features on the two excellent releases from Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra: New World Symphonies and the Moon, Sun and All Things.

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