Missa Mexicana Import
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
This is joyful, exhuberant music. The upbeat sections are teeming with life and transport the listener to a truly blissful level. The slower, more meditative sections are peaceful and enchanting. An interesting aspect of Missa Mexicana is that it tends to defy expectations across the board. After I lent the aforementioned sampler to my sister, she said it was one of her favorite pieces on the disc.
I should also mention that the sound quality is flawless.
If you have even a passing interest in Latin-oriented music, and love to hear good music played well, pick up this disc. The critics are right. It's fantastic.
Most recent customer reviews
I have explored the great cathedral in Puebla, I have meditated upon the Aztec calendar stone in the Museo de Antropologia, I have attended Mexican weddings and I have studied... Read morePublished on April 15 2003 by Nancy Moran
Intellectual! Sensual! Spiritual!
The music and the performance are utterly Divine.
Missa Mexicana is a feast for the Senses and the Soul. Read more
The Harp Consort is just amazing. This is one of my favorite CDs. I saw the consort perform much of this CD in Oaxaca, Mexico--from within the walls of the city's cathedral,... Read morePublished on Dec 2 2002