Early Baroque music was dominated by the virtuoso violinists and composers of Italy, though the Spanish influence held sway for two centuries in the regions under Castilian rule, including not only Spain itself, but also Naples and colonies in Latin America. The Spanish style in vocal and instrumental music, which grew out of the Renaissance and was infused with the cultural strains of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Gypsy music, as well as folk elements found in the New World, is the subject of this album by Baroque guitarist Richard Savino and the period ensemble El Mundo. While a good portion of the program is devoted to Spanish musicians of the Hapsburg court, such as José Marín and Juan Hidalgo, a few unexpected figures appear in their company. Domenico Scarlatti and George Frederick Handel both composed music in the Spanish style, and they are included, along with a handful of Italians, such as Francesco Manelli, Luigi Mazzochi, and Andrea Falconieri, as well as Peruvian composer José de Orejón y Aparicio, and Jesuit missionary Domenico Zipoli. To cover so much ground and to sample the changing styles of the 17th and 18th centuries necessitates a cursory sampling, and this album doesn't go deeply into any of the different areas it surveys. But El Mundo's polished playing and idiomatic vocals provide enough of the period's flavors to give the curious listener a helpful opening into a rich field of Baroque music that is increasingly being explored by early music groups. The reproduction is clean and focused, and the recording is well-balanced throughout, with relatively even volume levels.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
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