We know nothing of the origins, youth and education of Marbriano de Orto (c. 1460-1529) other than that he was the illegitimate son of a priest. His surname is probably that of his mother, Dujardin, and he was trained as a chorister somewhere in the diocese of Doornik/Tournai, in present-day Belgium. The fact that the Pope granted de Orto a benefice in 1486 which secured him a lifelong income from the diocese seems to confirm his close relationship to it from the outset of his career.
Who doesn't love a lullaby? As a tribute "to all mothers and children", singer Montserrat Figueras offers this unusual program of 18 such songs from diverse sources and anonymous composers–Portuguese, English, Greek, Catalan, Hebrew, Sephardic, and North African–as well as pieces written by the likes of Byrd, Mussorgsky, Reger, Falla, Milhaud, and Pärt (two lullabies composed for this recording). Accompaniments show the stylish hand and always-tasteful imaginings of Jordi Savall and the instrumentalists of Hesperion XXI–viols, guitar, flutes, psaltery, harp–and, in three tracks, the piano of Paul Badura-Skoda. Although the liner notes prime us to expect very simple, repetitive tunes, Figueras transforms these ostensibly sleep-inducing songs into high, mind-and-ear-engaging art, embellishing, shaping, and imbuing them with deeply felt expression, sometimes wistful and at others fervent, but always delivered as if in intimate, personal touch with her listener(s).