This is one of several albums of Spanish Renaissance secular music issued by the Glossa label and featuring soprano Núria Rial and countertenor Carlos Mena, with vihuela player José Miguel Moreno. Both Rial and Mena are veteran singers, well suited to the Spanish repertory, much of which has a direct and often sexy quality that flourished in the New World even more vigorously than it had in Spain. But this collection is a little different. It's also attractive, but listeners should be clear on what they're getting: a speculative reconstruction of music that might or might not have existed in the middle of the 16th century. The 1554 collection Orphénica Lyra was a set of adaptations ("intabulations") of vocal music by Miguel de Fuenllana, transferring a wide variety of pieces, including sacred polyphony, to the viheula or the closely related guitar. Fuenllana's intabulations apparently were quite difficult; the vihuelist even invoked the Book of Job in his introduction, warning players of the hard work ahead. But that's not what you get here. Instead, contends annotator Ivan Moody, "it is perfectly possible to reverse" the intabulation process by adding other voices and instruments back in. So what's presented here is music by Mateo Flecha, Juan Vásquez, Cristóbal de Morales, and even Claudin de Sermisy (the ubiquitous Tant que vivray), not in its original form, but filtered through Fuenllana's versions. One might at least wonder about the historical authenticity of this, but the Renaissance "piece" was a malleable thing, and the program succeeds musically, with what turn out as slowed-down, somehow reflective versions of the likes of Vásquez's Morenica, dame un beso (Dark-Skinned Girl, Give Me a Kiss). Glossa's clear, pleasing sound environment is a plus as usual, but also investigate an album entitled Claros y frescos ríos by the same performers for a more normal presentation.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim