COMPOSERS: Cabezón,Lobo,Romero & Guerrero,Victoria
LABELS: DG Archiv
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music for the Duke of Lerma
WORKS: Psalm 109; Psalm 115; Magnificat
PERFORMER: Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
CATALOGUE NO: 471 694-2
In October 1617 Philip III of Spain met Duke Francisco Gómez in the town of Lerma, some 20 miles south of Burgos, and attended Vespers, a service which ‘probably featured’ a Salve ceremony – an important weekly veneration of the Virgin Mary. This atmospheric recording of some of the surviving music was made in the church where they met.
The Vespers service includes five psalm settings which were often presented by voices and instruments performing alternate sections. In this recording, however, the instrumentalists muscle in on the vocal sections as well, and this creates problems since the instrumentalists tend to be more expert and numerous than the singers. Thus, in Romero’s setting of Psalm 109, the almost Venetian splendour of the instrumental sound simply overwhelms the vocalists and, in Victoria’s Magnificat setting, it is the brass, woodwind, organ and harp performers who dictate the approach. The playing is good, but the methods of sound production on these instruments make it difficult to evoke the pliancy of the vocally conceived music. Taken by themselves, though, the instrumental performances are simply enthralling. The disc opens with the wonderful fizzy sound of an original Baroque organ, and Rogier’s setting of Psalm 115 is played by a string ensemble with melting sensitivity to the false relations in the harmony. Local colour is provided by a trio of bassoon-like ‘bajoncillos’ which serve up Lobo’s Ego flos campi with great piquancy. The Lerma event may only be a pretext for this recording, but it has given birth to some gloriously enjoyable music.