Spain's King Charles V, who was reportedly the first monarch to be styled "His Majesty," makes an ideal subject around which to organize a program of Renaissance music -- examining the way music would have been used during his reign throws a good deal of light on the entire musical culture of the Renaissance. A Fleming from Ghent by birth, Charles was also Holy Roman Emperor. He lived from 1500 to 1558. The music that surrounded him was necessarily international, and it was his influence, along with the desire of monied Italians for northern music, that forged European music's first transnational style. Carlos had cohorts of Netherlandish and Spanish musicians at his beck and call, and the events of his life -- his assumption of the Spanish throne, his marriage to Isabella of Portugal, his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, his leadership of imperial troops into battle against the Protestant princes of the North -- all would have been marked by music from Europe's top composers. This album by Germany's Capella de la Torre makes an interesting comparison with Jordi Savall's 2000 Carlos V release -- and the fertility of this territory is shown by the fact that both discs succeed without traversing much of the same territory. Both are technically superb. Broadly speaking, Savall is interested in the expressive culture that surrounded Charles; he focuses more on vocal music, and specifically on Spanish song, than do the members of the Capella de la Torre. The feel of the Savall album is more lyrical; Music for Emperor Charles V is more celebratory and public, with "outdoor" instruments such as shawms and a trombone in place of Savall's more intimate groupings. A long segment of this album is instrumental, consisting of published dances and variations that easily crossed national lines, such as Michael Praetorius' Pavane d'Espagne. The booklet, translated in full from German into English and French, includes a useful and concise historical survey of the period and a unique table linking the specific compositions included to events in Charles' life where they might have been performed. If Savall's disc is more sensuously appealing for the average listener, this one goes into greater historical depth -- and is the perfect pick for anyone headed out to see the wonders of Granada.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Missa Simile est regnum coelorum|