"Great" she may be, BUT ABSOLUTELY NOT in this repertory!!
Maddy Evil | London, UK | 05/07/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm really not sure what this recording (or should I say this series) is getting at...
Presumably, Montserrat Caballe had either lost enthusiasm for playing endless operatic divas, felt she had lost her youthful agility and technique (resorting to "easier"[?] music), or perhaps even wanted to exhibit a sense of patriotism by showing that - yes! - Spain had an equivalent to the German Lieder tradition (albeit an earlier one).
But just who is this recording aimed at...? Are seasoned Caballe fans really interested in music from 15th and 16th century Spain...? Do early music enthusiasts - familiar with this repertory from the numerous infinitely superior recordings available - really want to hear a fruity and unashamedly operatic interpretation of this repertoire...? Indeed the most irritating feature of this recording is the sheer arrogance with which these performances are presented. No performer, no matter how great or experienced, is appropriate for every type of music. Would Emma Kirkby be a suitable Carmen in Bizet's renowned Opera...? Would Ella Fitzgerald be appropriate for a recital of Wolf's 'Italienisches Liederbuch', or Michael Jackson for Schubert's 'Die Winterreise'...? I think not. Suffice to say that there is not a single scrap of evidence which could be called upon to justify Caballe's wobbly style in this music...
And of course, it would all perhaps be infinitely more acceptable if both she and her accompanist could at least attempt to sing and play in tune. Caballe's intonation is decidedly unreliable; indeed, she is often flat as a pancake, and in certain tracks completely off-key (try track 19 for starters). Perhaps this is partially the result of her dire accompanist, who is quite simply one of the most abysmal vihuela players I've EVER heard (and not a patch on exponents like Rolf Lislevand, Jose Miguel Moreno and Xavier Diaz-Latorre). If you're looking for a recording to shatter the myth that opera singers are better than early music singers, THIS most definitely is it. Personally, I believe she should stick to her dying diva roles. Indeed, looking at the photograph on the back of the CD (in which she wears pastiche "Elizabethan" frocks), one could believe she has just walked out of a production of Donizetti's 'Maria Stuarda' - she certainly sounds like she has..."
'Spirit and music, song and instrument...'
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 05/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The heart of this collection of Spanish Renaissance canciones is the enduring musical presence of Montserrat Caballe, whose vivifying art spans the second half of the twentieth century like a colossus. I can think of few artists who better exemplify the humility required to consistently reveal art as an essential component of human progress. Caballe, among them all, is the complete humanist, the complete artist. Who can afford not to be grateful for these things?
She sings accompanied only by the intriguing vihuela de mano, masterfully played by Manuel Cubedo. Fittingly used for these musical gems of renaissance Spain, this stringed instrument possesses a complex intonation conformed to the human voice. The CD notes hold another gem - an essay (printed in three languages) by Cesar Rodriguez Campos, called "The Enraptured Spirit: Song and Vihuela de mano in the 16th Century", an informative addition to a compelling disc. The Spanish text of each song is also provided.
Caballe's genial musical majesty pervades every track. Those elements of her art that inform and transcend the operatic canon, are present here, refined to mystical simplicity and pleasure: the artist in her native tongue, lissome ornamentation, serious preparation and scholarship. What emerges is a portrait of the artist as carriage of the spiritual. So, this is a transforming recording. You can say this is Montserrat after opera. I think the arc of her art extends even to these delicacies. Only one whose gifts replenished the operatic art's true conformation, as being one that must rest upon the human voice alone as on an unchangable foundation, could create a recording as revealing as this one. Recommended.
Montserrat's voice casts a seductive spell,Viva Diva!
Viva Caballe | 04/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Montserrat Caballe is the voice of all ages.She continues to bring joy to millions around the world.This latest recording finds Caballe in lovely voice,with plenty of lush pianissimos.While I was listening to this album I felt immersed into a very spiritual atmosphere,that nearly carried me out of my body.I realised this peaceful music transformed by Caballe's celestial singing was levitating me closer to the pearls of spanish mysticism.
I will treasure this fabulous 24 bit recording for the rest of my life.
This is ravishingly beautiful singing from Caballe's latter years.She was in her late 60s during the recording of this beautiful little gem of spanish renaissance songs.Highly reccomended to all who love the ethereal voice of montsy as well as those intrigued by early spanish music,which is an important facet of spanish culture."