Torres, Castro

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COMPOSERS: Castro,Torres
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Solo cantatas
PERFORMER: Marta Almajano (soprano); Al Ayre Español/Eduardo López Banzo
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77503 2
The fire that swept through Madrid’s Alcazar on Christmas Eve 1734 also engulfed much of the music of José de Torres y Martinez Bravo, organist, educator, publisher and director of the Chapel Royal in the early decades of the 18th century. Luckily, sufficient works survive to confirm Torres as both an outstanding composer and a crucial figure in the development of the Spanish Baroque ‘cantada’.

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The solo cantadas on this CD – three sacred, one secular – show Torres adapting the original Italian format of alternating arias and recitatives, chiefly by interpolating movements drawn from Spanish dance and folk musics. The result here is a rich mosaic of shifting emotions laid over rhythms that surge and sway with remarkable fluidity. Slower arias are particularly haunting, whether evoking mystical rapture or a lover’s despair. The music is superbly played by Al Ayre Español, leading exponent of Spanish Baroque repertoire, as is Marta Almajano, whose beguiling soprano captures both the nuance and the fervour of Torres’s music. A thrilling release. Graham Lock