"Andrew-Lawrence King and the Harp Consort play about 1400 different strummed instruments, from King's usual bevy of harps (double harps, celtic harps, etc.) to Paul O'Dette and company with their various lutes and guitars, plus Hille Perl on viola da gamba. As with many Harp Consort recordings, you don't know how much of their expertise you can trust in terms of "authenticity"; it's hard to tell if Ruiz de Ribayaz' music was ever played this way. But with an emphasis on improvisation and creativity, plus some extremely fine sounding period instruments (or copies), this disc is a supreme joy to listen to. Track 24, the Gaytas, is a particularly sweet and tuneful little piece. "Spanish Dances" runs the gamut from danceable (dangerously pop-influenced at times) to gentle and lilting, and always sublime. The types of music and sounds produced are greatly varied, possibly due more to the performers than the composer. The entrance of percussion into the fold is also very welcome. This is truly unlike anything else out there."
Dances for the heart
Stephen A. Haines | Ottawa, Ontario Canada | 10/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Harp Consort is a formidable team in presenting this music of 17th Century Spain. Ruiz de Ribayaz was a minor aristocrat who reached South America in his travels. A companion of the operatic composer Velasco, Ribayaz wrote a treatise of "music known to every school child in Madrid." This "common" music is here transformed into a series of luscious pieces that evoke nearly every emotion in the listener. The collaboration of harp and guitar in these offerings merge to produce simple chord sequences linking the pieces into one grand melody of many parts. Even strung together, the pieces grant each performer a range of opportunity for virtuosity. And Lawrence King's Harp Consort does just that throughout the disk. This flexibility allows the listener to choose listening to the set in sequence or in random selection without loss of continuity.As a dance set, the rythmns vary with each piece, each opening with a signature theme. The pace may be fast or slow as the work develops. Although you cannot see Steve Player perform [as i have], the sense of the dancer's movements can readily be derived from the music. Adding to the images invoked is the realization that the dances are derived from places as far-flung as South America, Mexico and Northern Spain. One needn't be a music
nor dance specialist to envision the swirling, cavorting, or simply promenading figures that must have accompanied these pieces in their orginal form. Nor does one have any trouble imagining the shade of Ribayaz smiling approval at the Harp Consort's delightful presentation of his compositions. "Any child in Madrid" might have grown up to produce just what you're hearing from this CD."
Jeffrey Cohen | Columbus, OH United States | 08/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was lucky enough to hear the Harp Consort perform much of this CD live in Oaxaca City's state museum--an 17th century Dominican monastery. Eerie doesn't begin to describe the experience. The group is wonderful. At one moment deep and dense, the next funny, light and a little bawdy. The CD captures this wonderful group and their amazing sound."
A contender for the title most entertaing CD ever released
Laraine A. Barker | New Zealand | 08/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Andrew Lawrence-King outshines himself here, with the help of some of the world's best musicians on their particular instruments. Given a little decent publicity this CD could easily out-sell Pavarotti's biggest sellers. Absolutely stunning--a must have for ANY CD collector."