Christmas in Puebla
A panoramic exploration of Mexico forms the basis of this fascinating disc from the group Siglo de Oro under Patrick Allies. The title refers to a place in Mexico, Puebla de los Ángeles, and the music celebrates the music of one Juan Gutierrez de Padilla (1590-1664), whose music makes up the bulk of the programme. Other composers represented include Jean Garcia de Zéspedes (c. 1618-1678), Federico de Vidales (1632-1702), Jean Carerois (1615-1680), Francisco Löpez Capillas (1614-1674), Palestrina and Gaspar Fernandes (1566-1629).
In the early 1620s, Juan Gutierrez de Padilla migrated from Cádiz to what was then New Spain (today's Mexico). This was then an outpost of the Habsburg Empire and maintained the customs of home. Padilla stayed there for 40 years and composed right up until his death in 1664. The music is vocal, but it is the extra instruments that help give it its flavour: guitars, sackbutts, dulcian and percussion. Try the delicious melody and rhythms of "Serafin, que, con dulce harmonia," or the rustic tinge to Gasper Fernandes' "Tleycantimo choquiliya" (The Virgin Mary sings to the newborn baby).
The programme is designed to invoke a Mass at Christmas Eve (otherwise known as The Vigil of the Nativity), and embodies piety and raucous joy in equal measure, including a numebr of Villancinos (energetic pieces of infectious, dance-like rhythm). Church going then was not as it is now, clearly, and the joy of this music absolutely shines in this recording. Right at the centre of the disc stands Padilla's motet Joseph fili David and the mass Padilla wrote around it, weaving its melodies into a Mass setting.
Here's a rehearsal excerpt from this disc that reveals some of the energy that pervades it: