The best thing about this CD of keyboard works from Spain and Central and South America is the warm, close sound, not what is normally heard from a harpsichord recording. It is as warm as the instrument's red and gold paintwork. The worst thing about the recording is the impression that there is little variation in tempo from work to work. The mix of pieces covers a wide period of time, stretching from the late Renaissance to the early Classical period. And the works are actually a mixture of tempo markings. What gives the impression of little difference, however, is Mario Videla's relatively strict, sometimes plodding, playing. There isn't enough of a difference between his Allegros and his Largos, and he seems to use ritards only at the very end of pieces, rarely using any kind of rubato to create interest within phrases.
Little is known about the life of Francisco António de Almeida, but he occupied a central position in Portuguese life in the first half of the 18th century and was able to learn the Italian style in Rome thanks to the ambitions of King João V. The rarely recorded La Spinalba ovvero Il vecchio matto (Spinalba, or the Mad Old Man) is a comic opera which follows the buffa tradition of intrigue and romantic complexities, and is filled with superb cantabile arias as well as a rich variety of original and dramatic orchestral effects. The cast is led by Ana Quintans, a much-in-demand soloist on the early music scene, and the highly regarded Portuguese ensemble Os Músicos do Tejo is directed by its co-founder Marcos Magalhães.