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LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Spanish songs & vihuela solos
PERFORMER: Catherine King (mezzo-soprano)Jacob Heringman (vihuela, guitar)
All that remains of Alonso Mudarra’s work is a single collection, albeit in three volumes, containing pieces for vihuela and guitar (we hear both instruments on this CD) and a number of songs. Not all of these are entirely original, as Stephen Haynes’s informative booklet notes explain.


Like most composers of his time (16th century) show, Mudarra freely arranged the work of others. He also adorned the old psalm tones with exquisitely ornate vihuela accompaniments which are fantasias in their own right.


The limited range and repeated notes of his tunes, chosen or invented, contribute much to the music’s sorrowful, Dowland-like flavour. The impression is of elegant restraint, of the slightly dark, secret quality we tend to associate with Spanish music of the period, though as the false relations of the Fantasia ‘en la manera de Ludovico’ demonstrate, Mudarra isn’t averse to wit through mimicry. But more typical is the beautiful romance ‘Triste estava el rey David’, a retelling of the David and Absalom story. Jacob Heringman plays with cool refinement, and Catherine King’s pure mezzo reveals an equal sense of ease with this lovely music, perfect for contemplative late nights. Stephen Pettitt