Spanish Renaissance song has attracted opera singers before Montserrat Caballé, most notably Victoria de los Angeles. A certain dark yet explosive tone that's characteristic of the music goes a long way toward explaining why. The passionate lyricism for which Caballé is loved fits the music just fine and is on display here. This disc, the first of several to be issued by the Spanish Autor composers' society, seems to have been a small specialist release picked up by RCA in order to capitalize on the festivities surrounding Caballé's 70th birthday. Liner notes by César Rodríguez Campo delve deeply into the humanist ethos of sixteenth century vihuela music. Certainly the adventuresome recordings Caballé has made in her later years are praiseworthy, and the singer's fans will find that this operatic giant is still very much herself here. But the disc is unlikely to satisfy either general listeners or lovers of Renaissance music. The accompanying vihuela of Manuel Cubedo is unforgiving in its pitch precision, and if Caballé succeeds in scaling her voice down to its extraordinarily intimate dimensions she is less apt at hitting the pitches head-on. The results are never unmusical, but the de los Angeles recording (sadly out of print at the moment) comes much closer to an ideal outcome for this kind of experiment.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim