Canciones de amor y de guerra / Canciones de amor y de guerra
Spanish Songs of Love and War · 17th – 18th centuries

Pneuma «Colección Histórica» PN-390
febrero de 2001

Joaquín MARTÍNEZ de la ROCA (1676-1756). Los Desagravios de Troya, 1712
01 - “Nacer aun tiempo y brillar”   [3:47]
soprano, trompeta & bajo continuo

anónimo, texto de Lope de Vega
02 - “Vuelve, vuelve barquilla”   [3:39]
soprano & bajo continuo

Gaspar SANZ (±1645-1715)
03 -  Jácaras para guitarra   [3:59]

Joaquín MARTÍNEZ de la ROCA. Los Desagravios de Troya, 1712
04 - “Anche virtù e bellezza”   [1:57]
05 - “Suonin’ le trombe”   [1:33]
soprano, trompeta & bajo continuo

Diego Ortiz (1510-1570)
06 -  Recercada sobre “O felici occhi mei” para viola da gamba & bajo continuo   [2:29]

Gaspar SANZ
07 - Marizápalos para guitarra   [3:14]

José MARÍN (1619-1699)
08 - “O como pasan los años”   [2:26]
09 - “Ojos pues me desdeñáis”   [4:22]
soprano y guitarra

Sebastián DURÓN (1660-1716). La Guerra de los Gigantes (±1713-1716)
10 - “Quien primero que la fama”   [3:10]
11 - “Animoso denuedo guerrero”   [2:53]
soprano, trompeta & bajo continuo

Marin MARAIS (1656-1728)
12 - Variaciones sobre “La Folia”   [2:53]
viola da gamba & bajo continuo

13 - “Ay amargas soledades”   [2:53]
soprano & bajo continuo

Gaspar SANZ
14 - Fanfare para trompeta & bajo continuo   [2:53]

Juan ARAÑÉS (?-1649)
15 - Chacona   [2:53]

Joaquín MARTÍNEZ de la ROCA. Los Desagravios de Troya, 1712
16 - “Que siendo a mis iras”   [2:53]
soprano, trompeta & bajo continuo


Maria Luz Álvarez, soprano
Susan Williams, trompeta natural (clarín)
Mary Sayre, clave
Regina Albanez, guitarra barroca
Johannes Boer, viola da gamba

Recording: Jean van Vogt Productions


Depending upon the ensemble in concert or the theme of the night, you might believe that secular music of the Spanish Baroque was entirely bright and military, or grim, dark-edged flamenco, or filled with light-hearted folk songs, or reflective, intimate, and melancholy. Stylistically, Spain’s Baroque music was both forward-looking and regressive, influenced by Italy, returning Castilians from the Spanish colonies, the emerging Spanish theater, and the traces of Arabic and Jewish music that remained long after the great expulsions concluding the 15th century. Just about any of this, within reason, might be expected from such a concert, and it’s all here, on this release.

According to the disc’s liner notes, Clarincanto collaborated on the choice of works in “Canciones de Amor y de Guerra” (“Songs of Love and War”) with musicologists Louise K. Stein and Juan José Carreas. Together, they sought to produce a versatile program of 18th century Spanish music that reflected the full range of Baroque Spain, with an especial emphasis on voice and clarino (Baroque trumpet). In this, they’ve certainly succeeded. There’s something included of everything mentioned above, save for the Jewish influence, presented with a regard for original context that makes for great aural variety and a very satisfying program.

As for Clarincanto, it is not a group I’ve heard of before, though its leader, Susan Williams, is known to me for her espousal of the natural trumpet (or clarino) over the last two decades. Nor can I find any previous recordings by this ensemble—though if it is a debut album, that information isn’t conveyed anywhere in the information I’ve received. In any case, Clarincanto is an ensemble of five musicians: soprano Maria Luz Alvarez, trumpeter Williams, harpsichordist Mary Sayre, Regina Albanez, Baroque guitar; and Johannes Boer, viola da gamba. Their concert is extremely well chosen for timbral variety, spotlighting all instruments in various selections save the harpsichord, and offering a diversity of appropriate settings that change both leads and accompaniment effectively.

Despite several solos spotlighting Albanez and Boer, it is Williams and Alvarez who receive the lion’s share of attention; so a few words are necessary about the performance of each. As a trumpeter, Williams uses techniques based on written 17th-century sources that describe the clarino as mirroring vocal production and eloquence. Some of this can be heard in de la Roca’s “Suonin’ le trombe” (from Los desagravios de Troya), as exciting a performance of overtly martial music as I’ve ever encountered for its accuracy and spirit, rather than any sonic bombast.

Alvarez (who studied with the eminent Max van Egmond, a name that some lovers of Baroque music might recognize from LPs made in the 1960s and 1970s), in turn, is among the more expressive singers of early music performing these days. While some of her peers believe any display of emotion based upon inflection of a song’s text is anachronistic, she clearly doesn’t agree. She also employs discreet variations in dynamics, vibrato, phrasing, ornamentation, and tempo to turn every piece she sings into something distinctive. Whether it’s the despairing vision of Marín’s “Ojos pues me desdeñais” or an aria from Durón’s La guerra de los Gigantes that features Immortality singing about the value of heroic deeds, Alvarez offers an attractively designed assortment of masks. She also possesses an evenly produced soprano with a gleaming top and considerable flexibility in coloratura, though the latter is only called upon sparingly in these works.

I do have two criticisms of this release. The first is that, despite some excellent liner notes providing background on Spanish Baroque music, only summaries and brief notes are furnished for individual selections. Thus, we learn of “Vuelve, barquilla” that “In this song, the image of a ship thrown to and fro by the stormy waves is used to express the feelings of a person who is undergoing the torments of love.” Well and good; but as Alvarez is an emotive singer and the Spanish language itself a beautiful one, why weren’t we given at least the original words in Spanish, if not accompanied by an English translation? My second concern is over timings. An early-music group appearing for the first time on records wants to secure as large an audience for its efforts as possible, and at slightly less than 52 minutes, “Songs of Love and War” will turn off potential buyers who incorrectly but understandably equate more content with value for money. All of this is true but unfortunate, for Clarincanto has done a wonderful job with this music. Factor in excellent sound that is both intimate and resonant, and you have a release that should certainly please any fan of Baroque music.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal