L’Arpeggiata: Los Impossibles

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: NAIVE
WORKS: Music from Spain, Portugal and Latin America
PERFORMER: The King’s Singers; L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
CATALOGUE NO: V 5188

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Now L’Arpeggiata has decamped to Virgin, Naïve is re-issuing this 2006 album with four additional tracks – though the insert notes have not been expanded to cover these. Six decades into the early music revival, issues of ‘authenticity’ still provoke controversy.

These never bother me too much since, whatever scholars argue, we have little or no idea what music really sounded like before the advent of recording machines. Pitches and durations may be clearly specified, but tone and attack are determined by modern sensibilities.

So, when I complain that several performances here sound ‘inauthentic’ to me, sometimes evoking entertainment at restaurants on the Costa del Brits rather than the Iberian empires of the 17th century, I accept that this is a matter of taste.

In earlier reviews of L’Arpeggiata I praised their approach for being elegant and respectful without being slavish to convention.

That applies here, too. With the ensemble augmented by The King’s Singers and several other instrumental and vocal guests, the sound Christina Pluhar draws out for this examination of early and traditional music from Spain, Portugal and Latin America is, as ever, indisputably beautiful.

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There is glorious solo singing from Beatrice Mayo Felip and/or Patricio Hidalgo. Barry Witherden