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5.0 out of 5 stars

TOP 100 REVIEWERon 24 March 2013
Isabel I of Castile (1451-1504) was a remarkable woman. Her accession to the throne of Castile was unlikely at the time of her birth, but her remarkable character, and her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon created a union which the disparate kingdoms of what is now Spain had never before achieved. Isabel had, on the whole, a rather unahppy life but was very pious, and her duty as Queen took her through some fairly turbulent times in Spanish history. Her daughter, Catherine was Henry VIII's first wife, and another of her daughters Juana was mother of the future emperor Charles V, and unfortunately spent many of her years insane and imprisoned. It was also during Isabel and Ferdinand's reign that Columbus sailed to America, and the last Moorish kingdom on the Peninsula was conquered.

The music of Castile, Aragon and the other kingdoms of Spain during this period is hauntingly beautiful; pious, yet musically uplifting, beautiful, lyrical and totally haunting. During this period secular polyphony as well as religious repertoire flourished and was recognised by the King and Queen. And there is really no better way to experience it than through the empathetic and beautifully realised renditions brought to us here by La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hesperion XXI under Jordi Savall. Their experience in realising early music and bringing it to life for a new twenty first century audience is unparallelled.

The music, for which there is currently a track listing available on Amazon, takes us through Isabel's life. From the first piece, set against the birth of Isabel in 1451, to the last piece, against the death of Isabel in 1504, the music presented here is absolutely wonderful. There are songs, romances, and dances. The booklet has a full outline of the music and the times. This is a wonderful cd, and the evocation of a remarkable woman's life through the music of her time is a great way to experience this music. Totally recommended.
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on 21 March 2010
This CD is like a soundtrack (and a thoughtful one at that) to a movie of the life of Isabel I. We are taken on a journey through the historical events taking place in her lifetime. The CD starts takes us from:

a beautiful anonymous piece: "Exultet Caelum laudibus",

a jaunty Turkish tune (recognising the signficiant events of 1453 and the fall of Byzantium. This is important because the CD takes the islamic theme up again near the end with a beautiful lament for the expelled muslims showing a kind of symmetry; and

finishing on a a beautiful requiem by Pedro de Escobar.

In many ways this is an extrordinary album with its range of musical styles - Gregorian chant influenced music, sacred music for the mass and the most beautiful folk like tunes togehter with eastern inspired music.

This all leads to a very moving experience!
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on 2 November 2010
A brief review - very enjoyable album, with one absolute stand-out track. The "Requiem aeternam" by Pedro de Escobar is one of the most extraordinary pieces of polyphony you will ever hear. I bought the CD principally for this track - make your day and listen to the preview of it on Amazon.
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