Christmas in Puebla

  • INFO

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 by the British group Siglo de Oro led by Patrick Allies. Although recorded in Gospel Oak, north London, the scene is 17th-century Mexico, where Spanish composers put down new roots and breathed a new kind of creative air ... 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"

"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"


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


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