Miguel Lawrence / Mexican Baroque Orchestra

Venice in Mexico

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The "Venice in Mexico" connection proffered here, beyond the fact of Venetian music being performed by Mexican musicians, is pretty tenuous, consisting mostly in the fact that the previously lost works of composer Giacomo Facco, born near Venice, were discovered in a Mexico City library in the 1960s. Facco never worked in Mexico; he moved to Madrid in the middle of his career, and presumably his music was brought to Mexico City for the entertainment of the colonials. The other composer represented is Vivaldi, who may well have been performed in Mexico as he was over much of southern Europe. The other piece of musical transplantation involved here pertains to the realization of the continuo, which in place of the usual keyboard, lute, and/or theorbo consists of characteristically Mexican stringed instruments: the paired mariachi vihuela and guitarrĂ³n, which are played together in different registers. It isn't much of a stretch to imagine that in a situation where keyboard instruments were scarce, local alternatives might have been utilized, but the execution here is less than ideal. Conductor Miguel Lawrence claims that "a proper sound balance is achieved" when these instruments are used with a group of modern strings like his Mexican Baroque Orchestra, but the continuo is too quiet here, and the solo instruments sound as though they're left high and dry. Aside from this the program is intriguing enough. The slow movements of Facco's two violin concertos, from a set with the word-playing title "Pensieri Adriarmonici," are boldly operatic conceptions with unusual harmonic progressions, and the Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425, is played on a psaltery, which is a bit odd, but an instrument that was known to Vivaldi and again not inconceivable in a colonial setting. Lawrence himself delivers a zippy performance of the Concerto for sopranino recorder, strings, and continuo in C major, RV 443. Booklet notes are in English and Spanish. The growth of an early music scene in Mexico may yet produce a synoptic look at 18th century musical life in that fascinating country, but this disc remains of most interest to those involved in speculative reconstruction of the Mexican Baroque scene.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto in E minor "Pensieri Adriarmonici", for violin, strings & basso continuo, Op. 1/1
1 3:25
2 2:27
3 2:48
Concerto in A major "Pensieri Adriarmonici", for violin, strings & basso continuo, Op. 1/5
4 2:56
5 3:03
6 2:07
Concerto in D major, for strings & basso continuo, RV 121
7 2:13
8 1:22
9 1:45
Concerto in A minor "L'estro Armonico", for violin, strings & basso continuo, Op. 3/6
10 2:35
11 1:44
12 2:11
Concerto in C major, for sopranino recorder, strings & basso continuo, RV 443
13 3:31
14 3:33
15 2:51
Concerto in D minor, for strings & basso continuo, RV 127
16 1:35
17 0:58
18 1:12
Concerto in C major, for psaltery, strings & basso continuo, RV 425
19 3:06
20 2:51
21 2:31
Concerto in A minor, for sopranino recorder, strings & basso continuo, RV 445
22 4:16
23 2:00
24 3:29
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