Savall: Isabel I, Reina de Castilla (FLAC)
Savall: Isabel I, Reina de Castilla (FLAC)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Alia Vox
Size: 499 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

# Exultet caelum laudibus, vespers hymn (66)
Composed by Canciero de Montecassino Anonymous
with Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Marcha turca
Composed by Turkish Traditional
with Pedro Estevan, Begona Olavide, Dimitris Psonis, Driss El Maloumi
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Toccata (68)
Composed by El Cancionero de Colombina Anonymous
with Pedro Estevan, Josep Borras, Jean-Pierre Canihac
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Dinos, madre del donsel, villancico (90)
Composed by El Cancionero de Colombina Anonymous
with Montserrat Figueras, Arianna Savall, Andrew Lawrence-King
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Je ne vis onques la pareille, rondeau for 3 voices (attributed; also attrib. to Binchois)
Composed by Guillaume Dufay
with Andrew Lawrence-King

# La Spagna
Composed by Francisco de la Torre
with Hesperion XXI
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Muy crueles bozes dan, villancico (6)
Composed by El Cancionero de Colombina Anonymous
with Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Pues que jamás olvidaros (From el Cancionero de Palacio)
Composed by Juan del Encina
with Pedro Estevan, Luca Guglielmi, Andrew Lawrence-King, Xavier Diaz-Latorre
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Patres nostri peccaverunt, for 4 voices
Composed by Johannes Cornago
with Hesperion XXI, Pedro Estevan, Luca Guglielmi, Andrew Lawrence-King, Xavier Diaz-Latorre, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Viva el gran Re Don Fernando con la Reina Don Isabella
Composed by Carlos Verardi
with Pedro Estevan, Josep Borras, Jean-Pierre Canihac
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# El que rige y el regido
Composed by Juan del Encina
with Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Paseávase el rey moro
Composed by Luys de Narvaez
with Pedro Estevan, Montserrat Figueras, Begona Olavide, Andrew Lawrence-King, Driss El Maloumi
Conducted by Jordi Savall

Also available:  A Beethoven Piano Weekend (APE)

# Levanta, Pascual
Composed by Juan del Encina
with Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Lavava i suspirava, romance
Composed by Sephardic Traditional
with Hesperion XXI, Montserrat Figueras
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Mappamundi, bassa & alta danza (Trent Codex 88)
Composed by Johannes Cornago
with Pedro Estevan
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Françeses, ¿por qué rrazón?, villancico (Canionero de Palacio 424)
Composed by Pedro de Tordesillas
with Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Sanctus (47)
Composed by El Cancionero de Colombina Anonymous
with Pedro Estevan, Jordi Ricart, Miguel Bernal, Luca Guglielmi, Carlos Mena, Daniele Carnovich
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Triste España sin ventura! for 4 voices
Composed by Juan del Encina
with Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Canció en ritmo Quddan de la Nuba Gribt: Al Hussein de Marruecos
Composed by Arabic-Andalusian Traditional
with Pedro Estevan, Begona Olavide, Driss El Maloumi
Conducted by Jordi Savall

# Requiem Requeim aeternam (Graduale)
Composed by Pedro de Escobar
with Luca Guglielmi, Andrew Lawrence-King, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Conducted by Jordi Savall

01. Exultet Caelum Laudibus (himno de visperas)
02. Marcha Turca
03. Toccata
04. Dinos, madre del donsel (villancico)
05. Je ne vis onques la pareille (rondeau for 3 voices)
06. La Spagna
07. Muy crueles bozes dan (villancico)
08. Pues que jamás olvidaros (From el Cancionero de Palacio)
09. Patres nostri peccaverunt (for 4 voices)
10. Viva el gran Re Don Fernando con la Reina Don Isabella
11. El que rige y el regido
12. Paseávase el rey moro
13. Levanta, Pascual, cancionero (from Cancionero de Palacio)
14. Lavava i suspirava (romance)
15. Mappamundi, bassa & alta danza
16. Françeses, ¿por qué rrazón? (villancico)
17. Sanctus
18. Triste España sin ventura! (for 4 voices)
19. Canció en ritmo Quddan de la Nuba Gribt: Al Hussein de Marruecos
20. Requeim Aeternam (Graduale)

Historically questionable, but fabulous performances nevertheless

Following in the footsteps of his release devoted to Emperor Charles V, Jordi Savall and his ensemble once again envisage the life of one of Spain’s most important monarchs, here Isabella of Castile (1451-1504), through a hypothetical ‘illustration in sound’ of the major events of her life. Connoisseurs will undoubtedly be familiar with a number of these pieces, many from previous Savall recordings (Palacio, Encina, Colombina discs). Alongside the Spanish works (villancicos, romances, sacred music), the programme also includes examples of Turkish and Sephardic music. The CD is exquisitely packaged and includes a 95 page booklet in 6 languages, complete with full song texts and numerous illustrations (facsimile reproductions, etc).

As on many other recordings by this ensemble, it is clear that historical accuracy is secondary to an overall aesthetic result, and it is not difficult to understand why Savall’s approach has ruffled many musicologists. For example, whereas most of the works on this recording were almost certainly performed by a small group of musicians, perhaps most often “a cappella” (unaccompanied voices), Savall reimagines them here with the accompaniment of a colourful array of instruments – Renaissance viols, alta band (shawm, cornett, sackbuts), oud, psaltery, bells and arabic percussion. In addition, several tracks have ‘composed’ introductions (tracks 1, 4, 10, 13) or even added parts (track 6), and others are anachronistically renamed simply for the purpose of Savall’s ‘programme’ (e.g. the cancion ‘In exitu Israel de Egipto’ appears here as ‘Toccata’ [track 3], a term which doesn’t appear before 1536 and which is predominantly associated with keyboard works). Elsewhere, certain pieces are refashioned so freely that they bare almost no resemblance to the original whatsoever, as is the case with the moorish-inspired rendition of ‘Paseabase el Rey moro’ (track 12), originally for just 1 singer and vihuela (‘Los seys libros del Delphin…’, Valladolid, 1538). Incidentally, this romance also postdates the event to which Savall connects it – the Castilian occupation of Alhama in 1482 – by some 55 years, and other works have an equally improbable connection to the historical events with which they are paired: the ‘Marcha turca’ (track 2), for example, comes from an early 18th-century manuscript (the ‘Kitabu Ilmi’l-musiki’ of Dimitrie Cantemir [1673-1723], although the piece may have originated before 1700 in oral traditions), and the French rondeau ‘Je ne vis onques’ (track 5) seems a strange choice for the birth of Juana la Beltraneja, the alleged daughter of Henry IV of Castile and Joana of Portugal, given that it has no real connection to either Castile or Portugal (most specialists also believe that the likely composer was actually Binchois, not Dufay).

On the other hand, in spite of all these gripes, it is also clear why Savall’s group have been greeted with such acclaim by non-academics – music critics and the public alike. After all, what is lacking in musicological accuracy here is certainly compensated for by the passion and enthusiasm which Savall and his group impart to the listener – few, indeed, have done more to make early Spanish repertoire appeal to a wider audience. It goes without saying that the level of musicianship is of the highest order, unsurprisingly given the personnel line-up (comprising, amongst others, Carlos Mena, Jean-Pierre Canihac, Markus Tapio and Andrew Lawrence-King). Incidentally, there are also a few tracks whose interpretation may not be so entirely implausible after all, particularly if one takes into account the exaggerated political overtones of some of them: indeed, a thorough investigation of such romances and villancicos has yet to be undertaken (examples on this recording include tracks 7, 10, 13 and 16). Would pieces like Juan del Encina’s ‘Triste Espana’ (track 18) always have been heard by merely a few unaccompanied singers in the private chambers of Ferdinand and Isabella…?

In the end, if you can turn a blind eye to musicological fidelity, the sheer vivacity of these performances will certainly carry you away.

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