20 Mar 2021

Guerrero: Magnificat, Lamentations & Canciones
El León de Oro, Peter Phillips & Marco Antonio García de Paz
Hyperion CDA68347

This new disc by Spanish choir El León de Oro of music by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599) joins an impressive line of recordings on the Hyperion label whose dedication to Iberian repertoire is notable. Opening with Magnificat quarti toni their radiant choral sound is carried by a convincing momentum. With nearly 40 singers the phrases are confident and broad but never strident, this approach lends an especially atmospheric air to the Lamentations where vowel sounds are soft and few consonances penetrate the warm glow of the generous acoustic. The result is a delightfully rich sonic bath which departs significantly from many British ensembles’ approach.


To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (April 2021)

19 Mar 2021

Gesualdo: Madrigali, Libri Terzo & Quarto

Gesualdo: Madrigali, Libri Terzo & Quarto
Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew
Harmonia Mundi HAF890530910

After winning last year’s Gramophone early music award, this second instalment in Les Arts Florissants’ Gesualdo series continues to offer performances which balance the chromatic adventurousness of these works with what Fabrice Fitch described as ‘the solid craftsmanship and dramatic sensibility’ that characterise Gesualdo’s early books of madrigals (Gramophone Awards 2020).

Opening with the exquisite Voi volete ch’io mora (You wish me to die) we experience all four seasons of expression in as many lines of poetry. There is despair in the opening, descending phrase, an immediate complication, a sudden blend of voices and then an extraordinary surge of energy on the last line which closes with kaleidoscopic harmony.


Will such fluency and naturalism hold as they approach the later works and Gesulado’s development of a more extreme chromaticism? If they pull this off, Agnew might well finally shift some focus away from Gesualdo’s murderous private life.

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (April 2021)