"There is some very beautiful music here, with performances to match. …this is a fine disc of little-known music."
Early Music Review - October 2005
"Music in the Spanish homeland during the seventeenth century is scarcely better known to modern audiences than that from the colonies. However, thanks to recent work by Spanish- and English-speaking musicologists and ensembles, we are starting to appreciate the quality of surviving music. As is well known, composers of sacred music in Spain continued to develop their own unique post-Renaissance polyphonic and polychoral style, showing splendid contempt for the Monteverdian revolution sweeping the rest of the Continent. The position with secular music is harder to describe. In a typically learned yet breezy booklet essay with ’Esperar, Sentir Morir’ from Charivari Agreáble, its director, Kah-Ming Ng, explains that the apparent lack of serious secular music from this period was largely due to a shocking lack of patronage by Spanish grandees. Thus Hispanic Baroque dances and songs (both secular and religious), while not unsophisticated, are marked by distinctly popular flavours and colours, to which Charivari Agreáble’s joyous, semi-improvisatory approach is perfectly suited. It is joined by the luscious high tenor of Chilean Rodrigo del Pozo and the sensual, throaty soprano of Catalonian Clara Sanabras (who is apparently a former member of a Spanish Goth girls’ band). I defy anyone to listen to the meltingly beautiful opening song by Juan Hidalgo and not immediately want to own the disc."
International Record Review - July/August 2006
"...These works make a nice addition to the "original" pieces. This is delightful music, well performed, and the disc comes well-recommended."
"Charivari Agréable¹s summer season at Exeter College of Oxford continued last week with the second of two concerts promoting their new CD. Esperar, Sentir, Morir is a collection of songs and dances from the Hispanic baroque era, with most of the pieces emerging from the courts of Philip III, Philip IV and Philip V. Charivari regulars Kah-Ming Ng and Susanne Heinrich were joined by tenor Rodrigo del Pozo and soprano Clara Sanabras to bring us a delightful pot pourri of long forgotten gems, their charm matched by the candlelit setting.
Everything Charivari touches turns to gold, and these dozen or so pieces were eloquently realized with a potent mix of exquisite musicianship, warm rapport and scholarly insight. Many of the songs dealt with the themes of solitude, unrequited love and melancholy ‹ such as Que se ausenta by Carmelite friar Francisco de Santiago, the anguished Filis, yo tengo by Clemente Imana and the title song of the concert and the CD, by prolific composer and royal harpist Juan Hidalgo.
Kah Ming and Susanne underpinned proceedings with sensitivity, clarity and refinement. But the spotlight fell, perhaps inevitably, on the two singers. Clara Sanabras displayed a satisfying mix of technical assurance and tonal warmth, while Rodrigo del Pozo’s alluringly sonorous tenor was the kind of voice I could listen to endlessly. Esperar, sentir, morir is a welcome addition to Charivari Agréable’s already impressive discography, and a definite must-have for baroque enthusiasts."
The Oxford Times - 29 July 2005
"The baroque period is considered a rather poor one for the Spanish world after the cultural glories and prominence of their previous age. As well as the common difficulties - ranging from political and economic problems to plagues - musicians had to deal with a lack of specialist printers and publishers, as well as face the fact that the nobility was no longer interested in supporting music. Indeed, some so-called nobles even went so far as to exclude music from their homes. Patronage could therefore only come from church and king. All was not as dire as it could have been, however: the kings were fairly musical, and Philip III and Philip IV commissioned a fair amount for court occasions. It is more the case that much has been lost than little was written.
This disc presents a variety of songs and dances from this period, all beautifully performed by Charivari Agréable, directed by Kah-Ming Ng. The songs are mostly love songs, full of melancholy, yearning, desire and grief, while some manage to combine tremendous beauty with what can only be described as rather catchy tunes. The opening Esperar, sentir, morir is a good example of this. This is the only work on the disc by Juan Hidalgo - Philip IV’s chief composer of secular songs, harpist of the royal chapel, director of the court chapel, composer of religious plays and operas, and the most influential and famous theatre composer of his time.
The voice of Clara Sanabras is perfect for this repertoire – clear, slightly astringent and robust. The tenor, Rodrigo del Pozo, seems equally at home with the songs, and impresses with his vocal range – some of the pieces - the charming Canten dos jilguerillos and Corazon, causeteneis, for instance - are for a fairly high tenor. The latter song (track 4), by Sebastian Duron - who had to flee as an exile to France after supporting the wrong side in the Spanish war of succession! - contains some fine word-painting, as on the word "suspirais" ("sigh").
The instrumental dances are often appealingly lilting and light-hearted, such as de Ribayaz’s Espanoletas, and the anonymous Differenzias sobre la Gayta. All are brilliantly played, with graceful embellishments and excellent understanding and communication.
One work of note is Barter’s Hazo, Anton – a comical nativity “Villancico", in which the composer exploits contemporary stereotypes such as mayors and country bumpkins in the guise of a devotional piece of music – great fun! I loved also the glorious polyphony of Solo, triste y ausente (again, anonymous), the gentle Que se ausenta by the Carmelite friar Francisco de Santiago, and the inclusion on the disc of the composer Francese Valls – who was infamous for the scandal he caused by his use of an unprepared dissonance in a mass!
Given the improvisatory nature of this music, it falls to the musicians to interpret and expand, not just perform the works. Taking this a step further, Kah-Ming Ng has included two works of his own; one a version of a popular theatre song, the other a canarios - dance from the Canary Islands, with tunes by contemporary Spanish composers. These works make a nice addition to the “original” pieces.
This is delightful music, well performed, and the disc comes well-recommended."
MusicWeb - September 2004
"The telltale title of this CD leads us to the metaphysical dimension of a world that was beginning to experience the symptoms of Spain’s political debilitation at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Here, love is presented as a form of knowledge, an allegory of a fading reality. It is no coincidence that Antonio de Pereda’s El sueño del caballero (The Knight’s Dream) illustrated the CD; it is a true vanitas, in which the clock, skulls, coins and books accompany a man while he melancholically dozes.
This is the setting for this magnificent recording. The sound is very subtle and there is much to be discovered: transparency, precisions, good taste, artistry. Charivari Agréable’s excellence is matched by the mastery of Clara Sanabras and Rodrigo del Pozo, who make expressiveness an ensign. Both have one thing in common: their ability to adapt to different vocal repertoires and their suitability for Spanish music. These are no ordinary singers, but artists who ‘speak’ music.
It’s a shame to raise objections to a recording with so many positive features, although the imbalance in the programme cannot pass without comment. Works of substance—such as those by Hidalgo and Imaña, or Kah-Ming Ng and Sanabras’ recreation of Quiero, y no saben que quiero—clash with others of a simple leggerezza (such a s Juan Barter’s). Instead of creating contrast, they distract from the darkness in which the knight lays dreaming, hovering between life and death." ****
Goldberg - 2005
"Sensuous entertainment from 17th-century Spain fills this exquisite CD from the group Charivari Agréable, an oxymoron meaning pleasant racket. Most of this agreeable din is in easy, lilting three-time ‹ courtly love dances with the faint exotic whiff of Moorish Arabia. The music sighs with baroque affectation in hope or anguish for secular or sacred love.
Two singers lead the gentle instruments. Clara Sanabras has a most seductive voice, especially in the goldfinch song Gilguerillo, on which she soothes and caresses in pure falling phrases. Rodrigo del Pozo, meanwhile, has a soft poetic grace that pleads with appealing persistence on Hidalgo’s Porque Mas. And there is even Pachelbel’s famous bassline, dressed to kill. The singers perform a duet in charming lovers’ thirds on Escalada’s Canten, which sits alongside the comic dialogue of Barter¹s Hazo Anton, the light relief amid the steamy moments. Even the technicians join in with flamenco clapping on the final track, so sure are they of a triumph." ****
The Times - 1 October 2005
Performance: ***** - Sound: *****
"Like buccaneers of old, scholars are now in the process of raiding the Spanish Main and returning loaded with musical treasure. Latin-American music of the Baroque era is essentially European in style but enriched with indigenous colours and infectious rhythms.
Kah-Ming Ng’s booklet note, a model of scholarly clarity and information, describes Charivari Agreable’s programme as ‘a random sampling by... musicians gripped by the beauty and romance of Spanish baroque monody’. Their conviction shines through the performance, from a haunting opening duet over a sequence spiralling ever-downward, to a lively, if largely nonsensical, dialogue about building a road for the Magi at Epiphany.
But two numbers raise this disc way above others of the kind. They rediscover the performer’s role in the compositional process, one a song-fragment, expanded and improvised upon by Sanabras and Ng, the other Ng’s re-composition of a ‘Canaries’, a dance from the Canary islands. Both arise from such total immersion in and understanding of the style that we are transported across the centuries to ‘new’ music of the Spanish Baroque. The process is revelatory, as is the musical outcome."
BBC Music Magazine - January 2006
No User Reviews Found.