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WORKS: Las ensaladas
PERFORMER: Isabel Palacios (soprano), Christopher Robson (alto), Andrew King, Joseph Cornwell (tenor), Michael George, Simon Grant (bass) New London Consort/Philip Pickett
CATALOGUE NO: 444 810-2
Pickett’s ‘salads’ are larger and more colourful than others on record. Supported by some musicological evidence, he adds vivid instruments to six of Flecha’s vocal ‘ensaladas’. These patchworks of (mostly) Christmas texts in various languages set to zestful music – in turn poignant, reverent, onomatopoeic and bawdy – were performed around the 1540s at the Spanish court of the Duke of Calabria. The route to the crib is via a joust, a storm, shipwreck and battle, all evoking sparkling, constantly changing rhythms which, through controlling the underlying pulse, Pickett cleverly builds into toe-tapping extended sections. Amazingly colourful word-painting includes a mistuned guitar. Otherwise, voices and instruments blend to generate spine-tingling resonance with clean recording, essential to capture the words. George Pratt