5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2010
The CD sounds wonderful with quite superb singing of this well-balanced selection from the Cantigas. What will shock many - and certainly shocked me - was that these tunes were collected back in the 13th century! That said they sound unbelievably modern and are extremely attractive works.They are all hymns (some with instrumental versions) to the Blessed Virgin but were secular - thus not designed for Church performance - and therefore were really folk songs.
The Ensemble have wisely avoided the temptation of treating these as classical pieces and instead have given them a realistic (non operatic!) and most vibrant performance. The main soprano has a lovely clear voice and the featured male singers easily outshine their competitors. One can almost imagine a session in any Galician folk club with this music leaping out at you. Musical backing causes problems of interpretation but the Binchois use period instruments with lively accompaniment which sounds like World Music (Galician folk, Arabic and Sephardic influences). The Cantigas are sung in Galego and are quite important historically as they are amongst the oldest vernacular art works in Europe, but apart from this academia they are simply superb entertainment.
This Ensemble holds its own against extremely stiff competition from The Renaissance Players and Alla Francesca in the Cantigas but as there's little duplication of songs between these groups I can heartily recommend that (if your budget allows) you should buy all three !