Collection: Music from the Time of Columbus

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COMPOSERS: Anonymous,Francisco de la Torre,Mondéjar,Ponce,Urreda
PERFORMER: Catherine Bott (soprano)


This is one of several recent recordings which explore the wealth of music in the two main 15th and 16th century Spanish songbooks: the Cancionero del Palacio, probably compiled for the royal court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the Cancionero Colombina, from the library of Ferdinando Colon, the illegitimate son of Columbus. As music sources of this period give no vocal or instrumental specifications, interpreters today can let their imagination run riot.

Thankfully, Philip Pickett is undeterred by the peculiarly English theory that this music was performed a cappella. He alternates versions for solo voice accompanied by various instruments, with purely instrumental arrangements, changing the scoring, style and mood so the selection never grows monotonous.


The soprano Catherine Bott is most affecting in the intimate love songs, and while she’s certainly full of Eastern promise in the pieces that suggest Moorish influence, some of the mannerisms she adopts in these are rather irritating. Pickett’s colourful approach may not appeal to all tastes, but the recording certainly shows the immense diversity of Spanish music, and indeed of Spain itself during this period. Kate Bolton