"Charivari Agreable and their two singers/guitarists make a strong case for the music, particularly the songs, such that further releases of this repertoire would be most welcome. …Throughout, the focused tight playing of the ensemble sounds excellent and makes the syncopations, particularly in the dances, really stand out.
How nice to hear native Spanish speakers singing Spanish songs. Both Clara Sonabaras and Rodrigo del Pozo have beautifully light voices with clear lines and enunciate the words so clearly that it’s almost unnecessary to consult the texts…. They present songs by a number of composers born from around 1580 until 1675. …The production of some pieces is elaborated with instrumental interludes improvised, I guess, but helping to sustain a number of verses. And in what must be quite an unusual case, the words of one song are even written by the singer.
For viol players, this CD offers the chance to hear Susanne Heinrich playing both treble and bass viols. Other than this, the instruments are plucked (lute, theorbo, guitars, a triple harp and a harpsichord) or the organ. At times the viol plays the bass but in a number of places comes into its own as a soloist taking the tune of the song or dance and embellishing it. While there doesn’t seem to be any originally composed viol music either for solo and certainly not ensemble, this CD shows that there is much to enjoy in playing viols with other instruments.
I have enjoyed listening to this CD and could recommend it to anyone wanting to hear 17th-century Spanish music with a theatrical slant. I don’t know whether the freedom of interpretation used by the ensemble is to everyone’s taste, but I enjoy it."
The Viol - Vol 2 - Spring 2006
"Let’s be fair to Philip II: yes, he presided over the Spanish Inquisition and the Armada, but he also presided over an extraordinary flowering of art and music. For this disc, one of several made in 1998 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Philip’s death, Bruno Turner has located the music evidently sung at Philip’s state funeral. Just an interesting historical curiosity? Not the way Chapelle du Roi sings it--Alistair Dixon has gathered some gorgeous young voices that make quite a case for this music. Jean Richafort’s little-known Requiem "Circumdederunt me" for six men’s voices is rich, dense, and unexpectedly sweet-- frankly, it brings to mind chocolate mousse or pecan pie. Four pieces by Francisco Guerrero and Alonso Lobo seem lighter (the whipped cream, perhaps), with real treble parts and leaner counterpoint. Chapelle du Roi didn’t include the chant items (such as the famous Dies irae melody) that would recreate a complete service: a pity, because, as their third Tallis disc demonstrates, they sing plainchant beautifully. Instead, there are three nonfuneral works at the beginning of the disc; they’re not bad, but if you want this record to knock you over, start with the Requiem on track 4."
"Spanish early music has become comparatively mainstream in recent years, but this disc shows that there are still large tracts of fine renaissance music that are still to be tapped. The programme includes works by major international figures of the sixteenth century - Josquin and Gombert, as well as motets by the, now fairly well known, Spaniards Guerrero and Alonso Lobo. Of these figures, Lobo is possibly the most interesting. Blending styles of the old and the new, his motet "Libera me", at 8’29" a substantial piece of composition, contrasts the usual sinuous polyphony with quite extended passages in traditional plainsong. The contrast of textures that results from this juxtaposition of the severe and the lush is striking and effective. Avoiding the mistake of over-cooking the richness of the polyphony Alistair Dixon draws from his singers a greater sense of the sublime. In contrast, the chanting of the plainsong is given a weight and richness that its melodic simplicity might at first not suggest. This contrast works very effectively. [track 16 - start 4’30"]
The major work on this disc is much less well known although why this should be so is a mystery. The booklet notes by Bruno Turner make a fascinating case for the discovery of the music that was sung at the Royal Exequies - what we would now call a memorial service - celebrated five weeks after the death of Philip II of Spain. There survives a proposed order of service for this occasion which says "the Mass of the dead is to be that of Circumdederunt for six voices..."
There are few survivals of works from this period that include the motet "Circumdederunt me", but surprisingly the six voice Requiem by Jean Richafort is based throughout on canons employing the chant "Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis." It was published in Attaignant¹s sixth collection of masses in 1532. This is one of those masterworks that defies logical comprehension as to how such perfection of musical beauty could combine with such strict and rigorous technical structures.
The six part texture lends a richness and dignity that the singers of Chapelle du Roi relish. There are 16 singers credited in the booklet, making this a fairly large group for this sort of music, but Alistair Dixon moulds the textures well, avoiding the thickness of sound that can easily result from careless blending of the six parts. [ track 4 - start 0’00"] Just occasionally there is some rather uneven intonation in the plainsong, which is a shame as the general gloss of the sound in the polyphony is good. The standard of presentation with Signum discs is excellent. Cover designs are well thought out and tastefully executed; booklet notes with complete texts and translations into Spanish and German are excellent. The quality of the recording employs the generous acoustic of St Jude¹s, Hampstead to good effect, without loosing the clarity while yet retaining the sense of spaciousness that complements Dixon¹s spacious pacing. Overall there is a feeling of tremendously relaxed solemnity that would almost certainly have suited the style of His Late Majesty. [track 10 - start 0’09"]."
Classical Music on the web - September 2002
This recording must take an narrow second place to the recent Hyperion release with Cinquecento, whose readings have a slight edge for sonorous vocal textures and a sharper projection of the ebb and flow of the music.
The composer identified as Duarte Lobo is actually Alonso Lobo. Duarte Lôbo was Portuguese, while Alonso Lobo was Spanish. They are often confused.