The Newberry Consort has assembled an impressive body of recordings over the years. But this one is a real standout.
The consort explores the repertoire of the Mexican Baroque. Specifically, music from a 17th Century manuscript collection housed in a Mexico City convent.
The primary composer is Juan De Lienas, who’s something of a cipher. All that is known about him is his music, which survived in two collections, and comments written about him in the margins of said manuscripts!
De Lienas wrote in a blended late Renaissance/early Baroque style. Most of the works are contrapuntal, spinning out long, interweaving melodic lines a la Palestrina. His harmonies, though, are derived from the major/minor system of the Baroque, rather than the modal harmonies of the Renaissance.
The works collected were all for use within the convent, so there are no male voices. This gives the music an untethered buoyancy I found quite appealing.
The Newberry Consort’s performances are first-rate. The vocal blend has an ethereal quality to it, enhanced by just the right amount of ambient reverb. This is music of uncommon beauty.
Juan de Lienas: Vespers Music from the Conveto de la Encarnacron, Mexico City
The Newberry Consort; Ellen Margis, director