Musica Antigua - Eduardo Paniagua
In 1977, Madrid's acclaimed early music group Atrium Musicae directed by Gregorio Paniagua recorded after many others, a landmark recreation of "Hispanic-Moslem" Music for France's Harmonia Mundi. Still in print today, "Musique Arabo-Andalouse" helped spawn an ever deepening interest in early music from southern Spain that has perhaps been best championed since by Gregorio's heir Eduardo and Musica Antigua during the 1990s. His Spanish Pneuma label was created precisely to release Andalusian musics never before recorded from the rich musical/poetic antiquity of Moslem, Christian and Jewish traditions that intermingled during the early centuries of the second millenium, and which are still being uncovered today. This recording presents fourteen pieces in the Maluf (Andalusi) tradition from Tunisia and of the Oriental Moaxajas; classic songs from the Middle East all, as sourced from the 13th century Libro de Juegos of Alfonso X (the Wise). The latter refer specifically to poems of Andalusian origin and mean literally to embroider or decorate.
The quartet of Wafir Sheik (ud & viola), Jamila Ghalmi (vocals), Luis Delgado (percussion) and E. Paniagua (flutes & percussion) bring these to life with verve and humanity as a gorgeous mixture of song and instrumental. Sheik, a very capable virtuoso, is spotlighted in this set, as Paniagua and Delgado further sound the space with a variety of dance percussion and hand claps. Ghalmi lends the grace of her voice on the two songs "Console me at dawn, my dears" and "My loved one visited me". What makes a Paniagua production distinct from an increasingly congested marketplace of international early music product is not only an innate command of both material and instruments, but a fastidious and creative attention to detail. New textures routinely emerge from an already variegated assortment of performances, and the exact instrumentation and approach piece to piece does not repeat. Added to this, a very accurate and adventurous sonority in the recording itself is obtained by performing in old echoic buildings and other authentic locations, which elevate 'Jardin' to a very convincing illusion in the home. Like "Musique Arabo-Andalouse", "Jardin de Al Andalus" is as civil and beautiful and earthily refined as one could imagine coming from any human paradise. - Steve Taylor