El Nuevo Mundo: Folias Criollas

Multicultural, we savor the admixture of diversity, and in the savoring
seem to relax the complex boundaries of identity. Although this takes place now
on an unprecedented scale, the history of colonialism and trade remind us that
cultural intertwining is a conspicuous strand in the fabric of the past, as
well. And it is the cultural intertwining of the “Andalusian
Caribbean” that is vibrantly explored in the recording, El Nuevo
, by the inestimable Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras.

In the exploration, traditional Latin American music in a variety of forms
sits easily in the company of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music from
both the Spanish “old” and “new” worlds in what can
only be perceived as a musical family reunion, a reunion where resemblance
rings true even among the more distant cousins, and kinship remains evident
throughout the generations. The performance forces themselves underscore the
theme, as well, for Savall’s well-known early music ensembles, La Capella
Reial de Catalunya and Hesperion XXI, are joined by the Mexican traditional
ensemble Tembembe Ensamble Continuo, a collaboration begun several years ago as
part of the Festival Cervantino.

Solo turns are ample and shared: harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, for instance,
improvises a “Danza de Moctezuma,” while gambist Savall takes a
turn with smile-inducing, improvised “Canarios”; Figueras brings
her hauntingly sinuous and sensuous voice to one of the most memorable works on
the program, the cantata-like “NiÒa como en tus mudanzas.” In
addition to the solo work, the ensemble playing is endlessly engaging with its
abundance of “pluckery” and irresistible rhythmic animation.

One of the finest examples of the principle underlying the program, and also
one of the finest of the performances, is the paired “Xicochi
Conetzintle” and “Xochipitzahuatl,” the former an early
baroque Christmas lullaby by Gaspar Fernandes from the cathedral at Oaxaca, the
latter a traditional “son” in honor of Mary. The Fernandes piece is
elegant in its rendition and memorable in its rhythmic undulations and
cross-rhythms. The “son” blends seamlessly into the patterned
sway—as “cousins” might easily do—only to yield place
to an equally seamless return to the lullaby. In the motion back and forth we
discern something of the flow of the musical currents shaping the music of
el nuevo mundo; in the interplay of sounds we can take great

Steven Plank

image_description=El Nuevo Mundo: Folias Criollas
product_title=El Nuevo Mundo: Folias Criollas
product_by=Montserrat Figueras, soprano; Tembembe Ensamble Continuo; La Capella Reial de Catalunya; Hesperion XXI; Jordi Savall, Director
product_id=Alia Vox AVSA 9876 [SACD]