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Sebastián Durón (1660–1716) is a name doubtless unfamiliar to many readers, even of this publication. Musica para dos dinastías presents the listener with a feast of sacred villancicos. These devotional villancicos, which were sung during matins of the feasts of the Catholic calendar, became extremely popular in the 17th-century throughout the Spanish- speaking world. The excellent essay by Pablo L. Rodríguez featured in the liner notes (expertly translated by David Johnston for the English reader) is most illuminating: placing Durón in Spanish music history and discussing the sources, function and beauty of the 11 works chosen for this 67-minute recording, all world premieres. The relative oddity of Durón’s dramatic rise, from his humble birth in Brihuega (Guadalajara) to his position as organist of Palencia Cathedral, and to his appointment at the Madrid court, is emphasised.

La Grande Chapelle have produced a fantastic disc of previously unrecorded, first-class villancicos. The repertoire, ensemble, direction, presentation, liner notes, engineering, production and attention to detail all satisfactorily render Musica para dos dinastías, in my opinion, the Spanish Baroque recording of 2016. Highlights include the phenomenal natural trumpet playing of Hannes Rux, and such villancicos as the intensely chromatic ‘Cupidillo Volante’ and ‘¡Ah, Señor Embozado!’, mixing both Italian and Spanish compositional styles. The entire disc is performed with modern Spanish flair, directly influenced by artists such as The Harp Consort and Ex Cathdera’s Spanish Baroque discs.

Rhian Morgan Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing