Christmas in Puebla

By the early 1620s – when Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla migrated from Cádiz to New Spain (modernday Mexico) in search of new horizons as a music director, composer and instrument-maker – the colony was an important and wealthy outpost of the Habsburg Empire, keen to maintain the religious and musical customs of its mother country. The cathedral of the young, thriving city of Puebla de los Ángeles was still a magnificent work in progress, but its music provision could already rival its European counterparts. Padilla stayed there for forty years, composing prolifically right up to his death in 1664, and had at his disposal a sizeable body of men and boys who not only sang but also played instruments – including guitars, sackbut, dulcian, and simple percussion such as the cajón.

Siglo de Oro’s programme explores the rich soundworld of this time and place: a sonic landscape ultimately quite different from the one Padilla had left behind in Europe. Evoking a Mass at Christmas Eve affords the opportunity to include a number of villancicos – energetic, dance-like pieces whose captivating mixture of Mexican, Afro-Hispanic and Portuguese influences would have invigorated even the most sober churchgoer.

"a vivid album ... shimmering polyphony, luminously sung"

"11 singers of clarity and colour glitter and glow... a sonic festive feast ... The addition of local dance rhythms brings a rustic earthiness to Renaissance Mass from Mexico"

"‘Christmas in Puebla’ is to your traditional festive classical album as a spicy, aromatic glass of mulled wine is to a tepid house red. Bursting with rhythm and colour, voices seasoned not just with mellow organ but bright harp and guitars, a belching dulcian, sackbut and, cutting clean through it all, tambourine, castanets and drums. Banish thoughts of cherub-faced choristers in musical soft-focus: this is high-energy, high-definition Christmas, prayer meets party ... I’m buying it for everyone I know this Christmas"

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"Christmas in Puebla conjures the lively, dance-infused spirit of a 17th-century Christmas in Mexico: all unfamiliar, and brilliantly done"

"The villancicos by themselves might seem merely a pinch of programming spice, but the true beauty of this album lies in the subtle incorporation of their upbeat mood into the other works. A complete Mass by Padilla is included, along with the motet Joseph fili David on which it is based, with the performances frequently enhanced by instrumental additions that might seem anathema to purists. If I mention the light guitar strumming in some passages of the Gloria and Credo, for instance, some readers may recoil in horror – but it absolutely works, because the whole ensemble is so committed to the performance"


"The Spanish practice of having the sung portions of the mass accompanied by an array of colourful sounding instruments which has been replicated on this recording for a fully authentic experience ... Patrick Allies and the fine ensemble Siglo de Oro have presented us with a rather joyous collection of Christmas music that is balanced between serious and profound works ... This wonderful collection of mostly joyful music is a worthy addition to anyone’s Christmas collection"



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"a delightful album of Baroque Christmas music with a twist ... The twelve young singers of Siglo de Oro make a sound that’s transparent and well-balanced rather than rich, and the director Patrick Allies makes sure even the slow numbers have an underlying sense of rhythmic animation ... it’s a wonderful CD, enjoyable in a straightforwardly foot-tapping way but also moving in the way it traverses the whole gamut of faith, from the most sophisticated to the most naive"

"An exotic combination of Latin American, Spanish and European influences"

BBC RADIO 3 Record Review

"Patrick Allies’ well-drilled choir Siglo de Oro impress most in the straighter numbers, throwing in catchier items by contemporaries of Padilla, smartly accompanied by instruments known to have been played in Puebla at the time. Allies’ sleeve notes are fascinating, and Delphian’s sound is gorgeous"


Release Date: 23 October 2020
Catalogue No: DCD34238
Total playing time: 67:39

Recorded:8-10 January 2020, All Hallows' Gospel Oak

Producer: Paul Baxter


1. Juan García de ZéspedesConvidando está la noche

"A Christmas double-bill from Mexico and Ireland"


Presto's David Smith on Christmas in Puebla

With Christmas 2020 in the crosshairs, Presto Classical's David Smith picks his two favourite stand-out festive albums ....

Album Booklet

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