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Missa Mexicana Import

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, October 8, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

"New Spain" comes roaring to life on Missa Mexicana. The disc's mainstay is a Mass setting by Juan Gutiiérez de Padilla, who was appointed maestro de capella at Mexico's Puebla Cathedral in 1629. Although Padilla was born in Andalucía, his work came to embrace Mexico: the rhythms of its dances, the exuberance of its song, and the textures of its popular instrumental ensembles (complete with guitars, percussion, and shawms). Padilla was not a pioneer in this regard; at the time, Spain's sacred music was also greatly influenced by secular sounds. But perhaps the greatest draw of this repertoire, as Andrew Lawrence-King shows off so well, is the tight interweaving of European, Native, and African cultures in Padilla's Mexico, and how he and his contemporaries utilized all of these cultural streams in their own work. Bolstered by an array of other compositions of the age, Lawrence-King makes a strong case for 17th-century Mexico as a cultural crossroads, not merely as a remote outpost of Spanish influence. One prime example is Santiago de Murcia's "Cumbées," with its call-and-response vocals, delicate, mbira-like instrumental interlude, and earthy drumbeat recalling West African music. Another is Padilla's own Christmastime negrilla, "A siolo flasiquiyo," which invites worshipers to dance the guacambe, canario, and villano to celebrate the Messiah's coming. As on his other recordings, harpist and conductor Andrew Lawrence-King has brought together a host of today's most respected early music specialists for this trip to Mexico, including soprano Ellen Hargis, bass Paul Hillier, and gamba player Hille Perl. Lawrence-King himself performs on the Spanish harp, organ, and psaltery. As one might expect from such a gathering, the ensemble is top notch, in both technical expertise and musicianship. The singers (and instrumentalists) are equally comfortable in both Missa Mexicana's religious and earthly spheres, moving from a Gloria to a bawdy song with ease. --Anastasia Tsioulcas

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Performer: Andrew Lawrence-King, The Harp Consort
  • Audio CD (October 8, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B000068327
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,887 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Joy Fleisig on January 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
With 'Missa Mexicana' Andrew Lawrence-King and The Harp Consort provide one of the most joyous and thought-provoking discs of early music around. For an album that is 'crossover' in the best sense of the word, they take a 17th century mass by a Mexican composer and juxtapose it with the popular music that inspired it. All of this music is gorgeous, earthy, elegant, sensuous and passionate. Not surprisingly considering that many of the pieces are dances, it will undoubtedly set your toes tapping as well as have you humming. In addition to the standard harps, gambas, bass viols, etc., that one would expect from music of this period, The Harp Consort also includes Mexican guitars, bajons, and even a conch and a rain stick! The playing and the singing are superb, and Lawrence-King not only directs the ensemble but provides wonderful accompaniment on the harp and psaltery. The sheer joy everyone brings to the performance makes it seem like a particularly successful jam session, even though it is obvious just how much hard work and research has been put into it.
Mexico in the 1600s was a rich mixture of ethnic groups and cultures, and its music reflects this. The main influence is Spanish Renaissance polyphony (Spain at this time was in its musical golden age - the 'siglo d'oro'), but there is also help from Portuguese immigrants, Native Mexicans (Mayan), and Africans from the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Puerto Rico. As well, there is constant tension between the sacred and secular worlds.
The core of this recording is a 'parody mass' (that is, the polyphony has been reconstructed from previously written motets) by Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, a Spanish composer who emigrated to Mexico and became the choir director of the Cathedral in Puebla in 1629.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Contrary to impression one would get from Ms. Moran's inexplicable review, Mexican music isn't merely Mariachi bands and other such folk music. The Baroque was also alive and well in Mexico and the country developed its own tradition of sacred music. This is an lively collection of Mexican Baroque music, centering around a setting of the mass from Puebla Cathedral. It proves a very interesting mix of European traditions and the traditions and rythmns encountered in Mexico. The recording also sports a nice variety of styles and tempi. The performances are excellent and spirited, musically and technically outstanding.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 17, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The Harp Consort are always pretty amazing (c.f. their earlier CD "Spanish Dances: Selections from Ruiz de Ribaya's 'Luz y Norte'") but they are perhaps at their finest here. A powerful brew of sacred and profane: the liturgical music of the Latin mass, Renaissance Spanish/Mexican courtly and popular dance and song, and the music of the African slaves brought to Mexico: all these things come together with magnificent results. Wonderful melodies (you'll walk round all day with the Marizapolas variations in your head, you'll want to dance to the Jacaras); exquisite strings (Andrew Lawrence-King's baroque harpwork as delicate AND muscular as ever), and a teasing use of unusual percussion which adds depth and texture to many tracks. And then there are the singers: what's especially impressive here is the way that these strong, vibrant, often sexy voices work together so well as an ensemble, and also, one by one, emerge to offer beguiling, idiosyncratic solo performances (especially the rich mezzo-sopranos). I can't recommend this CD enough.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Maddy Evil on May 22, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Interest in New-World [Hispanic] music from the Baroque period has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, resulting in the release of several excellent recordings. In this particular case, Andrew Lawrence King and The Harp Consort present a vividly atmospheric programme which centres around the 'Missa Ego Flos Campi' for double four-part choir by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (c.1590-1664), the maestro de capilla at Puebla Cathedral from 1629 and one of the leading Spanish New World composers of the period. Padilla's Mass is complemented with examples of secular music by his contemporaries - villancicos, jácaras, etc. The programme is very inventive, and the level of musicianship is consistently excellent throughout.

From a historical perspective, however, several aspects of this programme are problematic, and it is difficult to know just how representative of 17th-century New Spain (Mexico) it really is. Padilla's 42-part choir, for example, is reduced to a handful of soloists (one-per-part), and whereas the 'tiple' (soprano) parts would originally have been sung by boys or male falsettists, here they are taken by women (although their singing is far superior, in my view, to that which any treble choir could achieve). In addition, whilst the use of a continuo group of organ, dulcian (bajón), violón and harp is well documented in capitular acts and other sources, it remains more speculative to assume that such an ensemble also performed solo organ music (such as the 'Corrente Italiana' by Juan Cabanilles [track 6]), especially since percussion is needlessly (and anachronistically) added to the mix here. Similar liberties are taken with the Santiago de Murcia pieces (tracks 3 and 9), which were originally intended for guitar(s).
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