COMPOSERS: Cabanilles,Cabezón,Clavijo Del Castillo,Correa de Arauxo,etc,Xaraba
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: La Mœsica Extremada
PERFORMER: Carlos García-Bernalt (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: VRS 2002
This is an overview of little-known Spanish repertoire, the rediscovery of which has lagged far behind that of the rest of Western Europe. Not all is of the highest order: two 16th-century ‘tientos’ wander aimlessly, fulfilling their function of ‘trying out’ the instrument; a Canarios unfolds lengthily over a repeated pattern of four harmonies, a Fandango over two. There are some beautiful moments – García-Bernalt reaching across the centuries by inventing 21st-century ‘glosses’ (variations) on a plaintive song ‘Sad and luckless Spain’, a final pair of delightful sonata movements from the late 18th century.
Though the 1709 organ, scrupulously restored, has only one manual, each rank of pipes is divided so that left and right hands can play with independent registrations. Some are striking, notably the quiet flue pipes, delightfully ‘chiffy’, and a rich ‘cornet’ with five pipes per note. The sole reed, a trumpet, is endearingly pungent, especially where high and low registers answer each other in imitative dialogue. The recorded sound is spacious yet clean.
The notes assume prior knowledge beyond all but Iberian musicologists, and such gems of translation as ‘the potential of the different plays’ take some unwrapping. But the exploration of so much new repertoire makes this a welcome disc. George Pratt