SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Ministriles Reales (Royal Minstrels) – Instrumental music of the Renaissance and Baroque 1450-1690 – Hesperion XX & XXI/Jordi Savall – AliaVox (2 SACDs)

The instrumental interludes collected on these two SACDs come from recordings made by Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI for other labels from 1978 to 2004.

Published on April 3, 2009

Ministriles Reales (Royal Minstrels) – Instrumental music of the Renaissance and Baroque 1450-1690 – Hesperion XX & XXI/Jordi Savall – AliaVox (2 SACDs)

Ministriles Reales (Royal Minstrels) – Instrumental music of the Renaissance and Baroque 1450-1690 – Hesperion XX & XXI/Jordi Savall – AliaVox multichannel SACDs (2 discs), 66:49, 62:28 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ***** [Release date: Feb. 2, 09]:

In the late Middle Ages in the Spanish peninsula the word minstrel began to be used for the profession of instrumentalists working in the royal courts.  These performers developed the new art of “music to be played,” which laid the foundations for the instrumental chamber and orchestral music which developed in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the mid-14th century leading minstrels traveled regularly to attend schools of minstrelsy in French and Flemish cities.  They built up their own repertory from the predominant oral traditions.  They imitated, ornamented and created new instrumental lines from hymns, madrigals and other sources.  Their instruments were divided into the “loud instruments” – trumpets, sackbuts, chirimias (reed pipes similar to today’s oboes) and the “soft instruments” – viols, flutes, lutes, keyboard instruments.  The first category were appropriate for state occasions, battles, processions, while the latter were used for banquets and after-dinner entertainment.

The instrumental interludes collected on these two SACDs come from recordings made by Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI for other labels from 1978 to 2004. They were interludes between recordings of Golden Age vocal selections, and have here been remastered for multichannel SACD and heard together for the first time. The pieces are grouped according to contrasting musical concepts, and arranged mainly chronologically.  Disc 1 is devoted to Villancicos and Dances both “high” (wind and brass instruments) and “low” (viol ensembles usually) from 1450 to 1530, while Disc 2 presents Fantasia, Diferencias and Battle music. (Diferencias is music from the Iberian peninsula mixing Christian and Arabian elements.)

One can follow the deeply-researched information on each of the many tracks of these SACDs – the results of over 40 years of reviving and performing the musical legacy of the Hesperides (the name the Greeks gave to the Iberian and Italy peninsulas.)  Or you can just immerse yourself in the colorful, varied and original instrumental music expertly performed by Savall and his players. It belies the idea that very early instrumental music is even more boring than the vocal music!  For those of us not deeply into the vocal art, these pieces are a delightful discovery.  The composers on the first disc will be new to most listeners, plus good ol’ anonymous.  The second disc has pieces by Janequin, Cabezon, Guerrero, di Lasso and Cabaniles among others.  The contrasts of instrumentation from piece to piece make listening to a whole disc a constant voyage of discovery.  The creation of pseudo-surround from the probably two-channel originals is completely successful.  The luxurious packaging and notes are of the usual super-high AliaVox quality. This is a choice collection for those of us who prefer early music of the instrumental sort over the usual vocal music.

TrackList =

Disc I. Villancicos y Danzas de Altas y Baixas  1450 – 1530:
    1.    La Spagna
    2.    Dit Le Bourguynon
    3.    Quedate Carillo
    4.    De Tous Biens Plaine
    5.    Collinetto
    6.    In Exitu Israel
    7.    Basse Danse : Sopra La Missa Mappa Mundi
    8.    Chiave, Chiave (Toccata Instrumentale)
    9.    Pues Con Sombra De Tristura (Villancico)
    10.    Buenas Nuevas De Alegria (Villancico)
    11.    Si De Vos Mi Bien (Villancico)
    12.    El Cervel Mi Fa
    13.    Mundus Et Musica (Canon Perpetuum)
    14.    Glosa Sobre ‘Nunca Fue Pena Mayor’
    15.    No Tenga Nadie Speranca (Villancico)
    16.    Muy Triste Sera Mi Vida (Villancico)
    17.    Propinan De Melyor
    18.    Fantasia
    19.    Danza Alta
    20.    Estas Noches A Tan Largas (Villancico)
    21.    O Desdichado De Mi (Villancico)
    22.    Ave Color Vini Clari
    23.    A Sonbra De Mis Cabellos
    24.    Quien Vos Dio Tal Senorio ? (Villancico)
    25.    Un Nino Nos Es Nacido (Villancico)
    26.    Viva El Gran Re Don Fernando
    27.    Vive Le Roy
    28.    La Spagna A 5

Disc II. Fantasías, Diferencias y Batallas  1530 – 1690:
    1.    Mortal Tristura Me Dieron (Villancico)
    2.    Diferencias Sobre Las Vacas
    3.    Pavana ‘La Battaglia’ Per Sonar
    4.    La Moresca
    5.    Passamezzo Moderno (Recercada Iii)
    6.    Romanesca (Recercada Vii)
    7.    Tiento Iii (Primer Tono)
    8.    Glosas Sobre ‘Hermosa Catalina’
    9.    O Voy
    10.    Buelbe Tus Claros Ojos (Villancico)
    11.    Diferencias Sobre ‘La Dama Le Demanda’
    12.    Susana Un Jur
    13.    Pavana Gallarda
    14.    Fantasia Viii
    15.    Jam Lucis Orto Sidere (Motecta)
    16.    Ensalada
    17.    Himmo Xvi
    18.    Batalla De Morales
    19.    Omnes De Saba Venient (Motecta)
    20.    Tiento De Batalla
    21.    Alme Deus, Qui Cuncta Tenes (Motecta)
    22.    Batalla Imperial

 - John Sunier




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