Milano Spagnola. Para Tecla y Vihuela

16th Century Spanish music is brought to life in this excellent recording pairing the vihuela, a six-course Spanish instrument that is the direct precursor of the guitar, with the harpsichord and organ. Consistent with the music of the day, for which instruments were often not specified, this combination is delightful. The vihuela, plucked without fingernails producing a preponderance of lower harmonics, nicely complements the bright, high harmonic content of the harpsichord in the ensemble pieces presented here. Duo pieces alternate with solos from each performer, giving each a chance to shine, which they definitely do, and this keeps the listener from tiring of too much of the same sound. Enriquez de Valderrabano's 'Cuatro diferencias sobre la Pavana' and 'Soneto lombarda' are played as lovely solos on the vihuela, with lovely, clearly rendered divisions from Mascardi's able fingers. Spanish courtier and composer Luis Milan's 'Fantasia de tento' is played on the harpsichord with great fluidity and style by Croci—what a pleasure it is to hear music by this composer played on a keyboard instrument! Another notable track is Antonio de Cabezon's 'Diferencias sobre la Gallarda Milanesa' where the duo reaches its highest peak on the recording with rippling passagework trading off between instruments, demonstrating their excellent control and musicality. In short, this recording is very well done. Pieces from composers both well known (Cabezon, Valderrabano, Milan) and less well known (Werrecore, Borrono) take the listener back over four centuries. Talk about time travel! Give me more of this!

© 2021 American Record Guide, September 2021, pp. 166-167, Jim McCutcheon