ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Love and Reconquest
PERFORMER: Fires of Love
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34003
In the 16th century Spain sparkled with cultural and political energy. The last Moorish city in Granada had been captured in 1492 and a series of strong monarchs – Ferdinand and Isabella, Charles V, Philip II – revitalised musical and artistic life. This collection mostly concentrates on tales of reconquest and courtly love from that period, though the actual musical styles represented here are more varied than those two categories (or some of the performances) might suggest. Best of all is the high, clear singing of Frances Cooper, who lends a magical starkness to the lament ‘Israel, mira tus montes’. Less happy is the male singer who joins her in terms of activity, but not tuning, in ‘De Antequera’, though they make a better combination in ‘Con amores’ by Anchieta (who is famous for having been beaten up by his uncle, Ignatius Loyola, before the latter became a saint). The guitar- and vihuela-playing is delicate and poised, but some of these pieces (‘Paseavase’, for example) are based on Moorish melodies and simply lack any hint of the exotic here. For a glimpse of that Spanish exoticism you should try the collection A tierras ajenas on Zenobia (reviewed April 2001).