COMPOSERS: Spanish and Portuguese Music of the Golden Age
WORKS: Spanish and Portuguese Music of the Golden Age
PERFORMER: Waverly Consort/Michael Jaffee
CATALOGUE NO: WAV 14002 (distr. +1 402 597 1240; www.collegiumusa.com)
Spain’s Golden Age of theatre in the 16th and 17th centuries generated a great deal of music. To celebrate this, Michael and Kay Jaffee, founders of the excellent New York-based Waverly Consort, have contrived, arranged and directed a ‘comedia de la vida’. This is not so much a drama as a cavalcade of 17 character-driven traditional songs and dances – chaconas, villanos, jácaras, folías, cumbées – that corresponds to the form of musical theatre most popular in late-Renaissance/early Baroque Spain.
The result is captivating: a fascinating combination of Portuguese, Latin American, Moorish, Jewish and Canarian influences, lilting melodies and exuberant rhythms that make it hard to sit still. There’s no faulting any of the seven singers and four musicians, playing vilhuelas (a sort of prototype guitar that can be bowed), Baroque guitars, viols, recorders and various percussion instruments, from maracas and castanets to bongos and guiros.
But outstanding among them are the tenor Andrew Ranson, whose account of the wistful Portuguese carol ‘Senhora del mundo’, with its harp accompaniment, is both affecting and mysterious; soprano Shannon Anderson, who is searingly dramatic and raw (in the best sense) in the Flamenco-tinged ballad ‘The Dream of Doña Alda’; and countertenor Bruce Rameker for his infectious, tongue-twisting villancico ‘Falalán’. Very highly recommended. Claire Wrathall