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“La Lira D’Esperia II: Galicia” = ALFONSO X O SABIO: Cantigas & Dances; ANONYMOUS: Cantos da terra – Jordi Savall, rebec, tenor viol, rebel morisco/ Pedro Estevan & David Mayoral, percussion – AliaVox

“La Lira D’Esperia II: Galicia” = ALFONSO X O SABIO: Cantigas & Dances; ANONYMOUS: Cantos da terra – Jordi Savall, rebec, tenor viol, rebel morisco/ Pedro Estevan & David Mayoral, percussion – AliaVox multichannel SACD AVSA9907, 74:00 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi ***1/2:

It was twenty years ago that Savall and company first examined the music from the area of Galicia, in northwest Spain and historically in possession of a vast Celtic influence, then later Arab-Islamic peppered with the Byzantine influence. This time around he is considering the ancient folk heritage of the region, and uses himself as a solo melodic voice along with one other percussionist. The music is primarily drawn from the Cantigas de Santa Maria compiled largely by King Alfonso X “the Wise” of Castile and Leon. Alfonso was a great patron of the arts but not a particularly effective ruler, and his name will probably be remembered more for this contribution—though to what extent it is impossible to say—than for anything else. This and some anonymous pieces form the backbone of the collection.

Savall plays as you would expect him, and from a purely performance standpoint this is outstanding, as is the typically resonant AliaVox surround sound. But because of the reduced instrumentation and sameness of musical timbre, I found this a little difficult to sit through by the time the final track rolled around. As an exploratory experience I do not think it ranks with Savall’s best efforts, at least in terms of programming, but it is still a well-developed and thoroughly professional effort from a trusted source. Those interested need not hesitate, but if you are new to Savall and AliaVox then I suggest starting elsewhere—check our pages (and the site search).

—Steven Ritter

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