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Splendour of Al-Andalus
Format: Audio CDChange
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2001
Format: Audio CD
First I stumbled on "Mudejar" by Begona Olavide (see my review), and then on "El Sueno de El Zaqqaq" by Luis Delgado. Now I've picked up this other Delgado CD, "Calamus, The Splendor of Al Andalus" - ALL THREE of these are must-own CDs that have greatly enhanced our quality of life here in Manhattan. I did a little web searching on Delgado this morning ... and found his website,... where his other works dating back to the 70s are listed. I'll be searching for and buying them all, I assure you. This medieval Spanish/Arab music transports one to another world altogether. It's medieval, it's Spanish, and it's Arab all rolled into one -- that's what "Andalus" music is. Andalus music, while medieval in origin, is a living genre of popular music too. There's plenty of current Andalusian music out there: I stumbled on it recently in Fez (Morocco) where it manifests as a kind of popular festive music, often available only on cassette and serving mainly its local market -- places like the south side of the old city of Fez (Fes el-Bali) where the "Andalusians" live (having fled there when they were rousted out of Spain at the end of the 15th century). From Delgado, Olavide and their collaborators we are receiving beautifully produced classical 'Andalus' music straight from Spain. These are spectacular recordings on period instruments (Delgado has an enormous collection of old instruments), extremely evocative sounds that create better 'atmosphere' than any music I have ever heard. This is the best medieval music in the world, I'm convinced. These artists know that they are reaching a modern market of sensitive individuals who appreciate the best of stereophonic high fidelity and they deliver it to great effect. By the way, if you like Arab or Turkish popular music and have a desire to delve into the related realm of classical music, these are the CDs for you. This is classical music with rhythm you can dance to! The rhythm work, by the way, seems to be done by one Eduardo Paniagua, who also has his own CDs out. As a collaborator with Luis and Begona I suspect his work is probably also great -- I'm eager to buy his CDs and find out! Thank you Luis Delgado and Begona Olavide for introducing me to this music! Send me an e-mail if you are coming to New York, please! We'd love to take you out for a great meal and a night on the town -- just out of gratitude.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is the finest recording of Andalusian music of the Renaissance I've ever heard. Not only is the performance (on period and appropriate regional acoustic instruments) outstanding, but the performance was recorded at a high digital sampling rate of 96hz, yeilding almost twice the average frequency response of most DDD recordings. In other words, it's an audiophile gem as well as a musical treasure and historical excursion. As another reviewer suggested, fans of Dead Can Dance will probably love this (the source music being directly influential upon DCD's ouvre.) Appreciators of Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras' work with early Spanish music will also love this disc. Very strongly recommended. See also Begoña Olavide's "Saltarello" on the same label. It features as much Christian and secular music as Arabic/Moorish, but has a similar ambience and the same high-quality sound. A thousand thanks to Calamus and MA Recordings for these treasures.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
`Danzas Medievales Espanolas' and `Calamus, The Splendour of Al-Andalus' are both performed by the Eduardo Paniagua Group which, I believe, is based in Spain. Both albums were recorded at the Monasterio de la Santa Espina, Valladolid, Espana and both ensambles of musicians are lead by Eduardo Paniagua, although there is some difference in the personnel between the two albums.

Andalucia is the most southwesterly province in Spain and therefore the one under control of the Moors for the longest time. The latter of the two albums specifically offers us music of `Arab-Andalusian Music of the 12th to the 15th centuries', after which the Moors were kicked out of Spain by Isabella and Ferdinand. As I listen to this specifically Arab music, I hear virtually nothing which tells me that it is music performed in Spain. It is certainly old, but not too different from the Arab music I hear on Sunday's on my local NPR radio station. You can almost hear the influences of the Levant which are shared by both Arab and Israeli musical styles. I am constantly looking around to find the sources of all the clicks and rattles as I do my gardening with Walkman in full throat. Turns out, it is all from the rich family of Middle Eastern percussion instruments on this album. Looking at the names of the tracks, they too all seem to be in a Latinized spelling of a Middle Eastern language.

The first album of Medieval dances with largely the same instruments and a very similar ensemble sounds quite different. This music is quintessentally European Renaissance, with strong similarities to other recordings of Renaissance music by French, English, Dutch, German, and Italian influenced performers. The titles to these pieces have a much more pronouncedly Spanish look to them. Some even seem to be titled in Latin, which seems odd, but maybe not that odd, as the two strongest influences on popular music through the ages is dance and liturgical (nee gospel) music. So, one shouldn't be too surprised to see a little Kyria slip into the vernacular.

One thing which really impresses me is that while western music has changed so much over the last 6 centuries, the Arab music sounds so much like it does today, and yet in the 15th century, it sounds a lot more sophisticated than the native European music.

I highly recommend both albums, but if you are really on the lookout for `something completely different', go for the Arab music of Al-Andalus!.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Very well captures the mood of eras and places Spanish and Renaissance though the lyrics seem to actually be Arabic, which is appropriate. Reminds me a great deal of the brilliant Madredeus though this has a considerably more Elizabethan sound, more pastoral and less dramatic and operatic. A good number of songs here, so the CD will give you something to listen to for awhile.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 1998
Format: Audio CD
I bought this album in Toledo, Spain, which was a very important arab center in the Middle-Ages. The splendor of Toldedo was so genuinely completed by the music from this album. The music is very melodic, very rythmic and simply very beautiful. It reminds me a bit of some of Dand Can Dance's more rythmic works, but without the modern instruments and technology on top to modify the simple purity of medieval music. The vocals are hypnotic, and the percussions will make you want to dance along. Even if the music does get a little repetitive after a while, it still remains truely splendid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This music takes the listener into a particular beauty......under the stars of a clear, warm night---- into a different time and place..
I can't describe it any other way.....

Of the hundreds of very special finds I've discovered at Amazon.....This makes my list of the top 5..or top 3.
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on March 17, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Very interesting music. Good sound, not the spectacular kind, more in the "natural" way, no harshness at all ....
Highly recommended !!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It all began almost three years ago... I was travelling by aeroplane from Brussels to Madrid, and from there, by train, to Sevilla. This train journey in itself offered me moments of incredibly new and exotic landscapes that touched my soul in ways I could never have imagined. The city of Madrid gave way to the agglomeration -- the agglomeration gave way to a rural patchwork of different landscapes -- and then one of the most incredible sights: orange orchards as far as the eyes could see, stretched over the gently rolling landscape of grass-covered hils with a small stream here and there and between the trees, grazing on the grass, were white cows so very different from Friesian, black and white cows I am used to in Holland. This incredibly romantic landscape slowly transformed, as we came closer and closer to Sevilla, in the drier, more widely rolling landscapes with a beautiful castella here and there, perched on a high cliff or on a high rock in the middle of the valley. Astounding exoticism for a Dutchman who had never been more southernly than Paris...

We went along to see and hear and feel - to take in to the full - all possible sights and sounds and tastes of Andalucia. I had fallen in love with Andalucia, the incredibly poetic Alhambra and especially with Sevilla and all of its magnificent buildings, its river dividing the city in two, its flauntingly prosperous Cathedral with Columbus' mausoleum, its sympathetic, winding balconied streets, its intoxicatingly romantic Jardines del Alcazar that I wish I never had left, its deep history of many peoples meeting each other in war and trade. It was there, in the Alcazar - the palace where Columbus himself came to report to the emperor and empress about his travels to the new World - that I bought this album. As such, for me it is inextricably tied to memories of the utmost romanticism. Maybe not the best way to objectively judge an album on its merits as a document of accurate musical historicity. But the damage has been done. Another human being has given in to romanticism and lost part of his soul to another corner of the world.
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on January 9, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
a very great cd very nice music to listen to we loved it we will shop again in your store
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