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.
In AliaVox’s release of the album Entremeses Del Siglo De Oro: Lope de Vega y su tiempo (1550-1650), which translates to “Intermission [music] of the Golden Century: Lope de Vega and his era,” we find soprano Montserrat Figueras and the group Hespèrion XX, Jordi Savall conducting, bringing us some of the finest examples of period music that I know of. The voice of Montserrat Figueras has the limpid and pure quality of a fine recorder, that is, each note is nearly as possible free from embellishment that became part and parcel of vocal training in the following centuries. The ensemble playing of Hespèrion, a group I’ve known for ten years, has never sounded better. Hats off to Jordi Savall. The music itself is akin to entre-act music written for the Elizabethan theater, most notably Shakespeare’s plays. You’ll note the similarity of the Spanish word entremeses and the English word intermission.