Formed by Raquel Andueza and Jesús Fernández Baena in 2010, La Galanía quickly established itself as one of the most important groups of the Spanish music scene.
The ensemble is specialised in Baroque music from the 17th and 18th century. Their performances are always based on meticulous historical research and are realised together with the best Spanish and foreign musicians, busy in this sort of repertoire. All the members of the group are also taking part in diverse other globally recognised orchestras and prestigious groups, such as Hespèrion XXI, Al Ayre Español, L’Arpeggiata, Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla, Private Musicke, and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment amongst others. The core of the group is soprano Raquel Andueza, who regularly is invited to the world’s most important auditoriums and festivals.
La Galanía made its very successful debut at Pamplona Cathedral with Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Henceforward the group quickly began to appear at the most prestigious auditoriums and festivals all over the world, including the National Auditorium of Music of Madrid, RheinVokal Festival in Germany, Kultur-Casino Bern, Konzerthaus Berlin, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Saint- Michel-en-Thiérache Abbey, MA Festival Bruges, Royal Palace of La Almudaina in Palma de Mallorca, Aranjuez Festival, Panama City Early Music Festival, Donostia-San Sebastián Musical Fortnight, Festival Van Mechelen, Moscow International Christmas Festival, Bogotá Sacred Music Festival, and Innsbruck Festival amongst others.
In January 2011 their first recording Yo soy la locura was published on the record label Anima e Corpo. Since its release, the album has been enjoying great success in terms of sales and reviews and it was unanimously conferred the Festclásica award by the Spanish Association of Classical Music Festivals in 2011. In July 2013 the group released Alma Mia, a compilation of the most beautiful opera arias and cantatas by Antonio Cesti, which is also receiving enthusiastic reviews and accolades from the press. In 2014 their youngest recording, Pegaso was released on Anima e Corpo. The next CD, Yo soy la locura 2, will be appear in 2015.
Further info: www.lagalania.com
PLEASURE AND SWEETNESS
“For more than an hour yesterday, the audience enjoyed an excellent programme of relaxing beauty with “pleasure and sweetness” (as the third verse of Henri du Bailly’s work Je suis la Folie reads, which provides the title to the concert reviewed herein). Raquel Andueza’s voice, raised to the pinnacle of the Renaissance and Baroque repertoire in Spain, was the main cause of the audience’s intimate enjoyment of this music, which exudes the truth – harmony and melody – of what this art form’s development would be like in subsequent centuries. The audience knew how to appreciate through unequivocal displays of approval the way these three musicians (voice, theorbo and Baroque guitar) can create ambiences of true enchantment.
Jesús Fernández Baena, with the evocative sound of the theorbo, and César Hualde, strumming the metallic timbres of his light tan-coloured Baroque guitar, provided moments of superlative quality in the follies and canarios written by Gaspar Sanz. The beauty of the song Sé que me muero (I Know I am Dying) by Jean Baptiste Lully, which is in the purest Rococo romanticist style and wonderfully sung by Raquel Andueza, revealed the balanced timbre, expressiveness and clear diction of her voice, as well as her refined technique to create atmospheric modulations in each theme. Raquel Andueza made the passage of time imperceptible, while at the same time undesirable. She even had the elegance to apologise to the Teresian nuns listening to the concert from the choir for the first stanza of Literes’ song Déjame tirano dios (Leave Me Alone Tyrannous God), though the term in the poem make reference to love.”
“Admirably accompanied by Jesús Fernández Baena’s theorbo, which on its own filled the church, Raquel led us from the most violent drama to the most moving gesture of tenderness, from sweetness to desperation, from pain to pleasure as only the greatest talents are able to do.”
“Few concerts will be as risky as this one due to the austerity of the means employed and the programming of music which still lacks the handle of Baroque adornment or the prestige of well-known composers, apart from Monteverdi. Yet, nonetheless, I have attended very few more beautiful concerts. The key to the extraordinary evening lay in the performers’ quality and the discovery of some scores that reached right into the soul due to the way they were sung.”
“Today Raquel Andueza’s versatility, technique and capacity to interpret are well known. She is, without doubt, a singer currently at the very pinnacle in our country. Jesús Fernández Baena’s subtle mastery of the instrument cannot be placed into question. The sound of Jesus’s theorbo exuded authority and accuracy”.
Xosé C. Gándara
Raquel Andueza: The Art of Knowing What to Say
“The Convent of Santa Teresa was sold out once more for the recital given by Raquel Andueza and La Galanía, who brought the Cycle of Ancient Music Fortnight to a close this year.
The programme they chose, which they had already toured across the country and part of Europe, was entitled Yo soy la locura (I Am Madness) and taken from their first record for the Anima e Corpo record label. It is therefore a repertoire they control to perfection and upon which they put together imaginative and somewhat unprejudiced interpretations.
For example, despite being songs composed in the 17th century, some pieces like Hidalgo’s Marizápalos or Sólo es querer were rendered with the guitar and the theorbo and almost reminded one of the music of a famous female singer and songwriter of the 1970s.
This lack of prejudice clearly affected the instrumental pieces to a greater extent, like the popular Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, which César Hualde performed in such a peculiar manner that didn’t always do justice to the music.
Raquel Andueza, the soprano from Navarre so beloved by the audience of the San Sebastián Fortnight due to her previous visits with La Colombina, took advantage of these songs to do what she does best: tell stories. Andueza’s very unique voice, which is sweet and precise, and her perfect diction are technically modulated to help her in this regard, managing to achieve mastery in the art of infusing meaning and intention to each word she utters.
She demonstrated this throughout the recital’s different parts. However, it was the last piece, Lamento della ninfa, which clearly made us feel all the intensity with which Andueza incarnates the characters to whom she lends her voice.”
Ardent and Mad.
“Ardent and mad, short and long. We felt both hot and cold when listening to the voice of Andueza. In her presence, the power to blend and fuse all kinds of feelings in just a couple of seconds arises once again, making any of her concerts far too short. This time Andueza wished to inject a touch of madness into the recital by presenting some works from the record Yo soy la locura (I Am Madness), which emanates madness from every single note of the music. Andueza possesses an immense crystalline voice, which is alive, sweet and whispering, as if it were drops of water to soothe the soul in a sad autumn afternoon beside the warmth of the hearth just after a wonderful lunch. She presented Spanish and French music from the 17th century with the accompaniment of her husband on the theorbo and Hualde on the guitar. As the recital wore on, so exquisite and brilliant was the expression of Andueza’s voice that the instrumentalists’ accompaniment, despite playing masterfully, no longer helped us to listen. It was almost as if they were surplus to requirements.
The last time Andueza took part in the Music Fortnight, she brought us closer to Italian music and it was in this role that I felt her to be more authentic. The recital held the day before yesterday was outstanding. However, some of the works chosen for it were rather poor as regards their musical interest. The works were “nice”, both audible and open, pure gems with Andueza’s voice, though their formal structure was perhaps somewhat lacking in substance. Andueza progressively warmed up until the piece Sé que me muero (I Know I Am Dying) by Jean Baptiste Lully. The beginning was somewhat hesitant, then magical and the end was fiery and ardent with an amorous discharge. The word “love” in Lully’s work defines all possible ways of suffering and willingness to live, warmth and temperance, breathlessness and breathing. It is also well worth highlighting the piece Sólo es querer by Juan Hidalgo, which was exquisitely ornamented by Hualde’s guitar and the firm harmonic backing provided by Baena on the theorbo. Madness in the concert hall, Andueza was in ecstasy”.
On love, torment and other kinds of madness
“We live in a society dominated by stress, rushing around and a frantic pace of life. As could not be otherwise, the music of our time echoes the realities of the world we live in and is comprised of nervous, excitable and ever more accelerated rhythms. Other eras when tranquillity and calmness reigned seem so far away where only anxiety and fatigue hold sway.
Many performers cast their sights on the repertoires of past eras, when quietude and calmness were materialised in musical compositions, searching for that non-existent peace that is almost impossible to express in the music of our time. The Italian Seicento is an ideal period to find such tranquillity, along with insurmountable sweetness and the primacy of the text over poetry, with a vocal music in which pure recitative backed by the recently created basso continuo accompaniment and the most creative melodies blend perfectly to express the deepest sentiments of heightened passions. The soprano Raquel Andueza and the theorbist Jesús Fernández Baena must have thought the same when they set about arranging their first record as a group, D’amore e tormenti. Although they cast their sights on the past, they decided to base their work on a topic, unrequited love, which echoes to this day. They focus on love stories with a painful end, the end or the lack of love, situations as common today as they have always been in the different stages of human evolution.
The pieces included in this record have been carefully selected to comprise a collection of monodies for soprano performed by Raquel’s voice, which is wonderfully suited to this kind of repertoire. Her voice is accompanied by the sweet whisper of the theorbo, an instrument created to accompany the canto, which intermingles perfectly with the soprano’s voice in each of the arias. Two solo pieces for the theorbo have also been included as a complement: a very danceable chaconne by Piccinini in just the right tempo and Kapsberger’s Tocata VII, a technically demanding piece of refined sonority.
Both musicians must have been very satisfied with the outcome of their first album due to the recording’s more than acceptable quality and their outstanding performances. Without thinking about it twice, they decided to plunge headlong into the difficult world of record production by jointly creating their own record label dedicated to disseminating and encouraging a love for ancient music. Thus, the Anima e Corpo record label was born out of great enthusiasm and high expectations. It is not exclusively dedicated to producing their own work. Rather, as lovers of ancient music, among other tasks they hope to produce the work of other performers, represent and manage the careers of other musicians, recover and publish facsimiles of scores prior to the 18th century and encourage new talents on the basis of their knowledge and experience.
Taking their recently created record label as a launch pad and using it to control what, how and with whom they record in total freedom, they decided to repeat the preceding experience of recording an album, this time producing a record with human tones in Spanish. This new record is entitled Yo soy la locura (I Am Madness) and is full of precise brushstrokes and personal touches, as well as rhetorical detours that imbue the entire collection with the “madness” mentioned in the album’s title.
The quality of the recording exceeds that of their previous work and an evolution in the voice can be noted in new nuances and a balanced palette of colours at specific moments. As in the previous record and in keeping with the CDs topic, the theorbo takes centre stage in two instrumental pieces by Spanish Baroque composers, Gaspar Sanz’s Folías and Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz’s Españoletas. This time the theorbo is suitably accompanied by the Baroque guitar – an instrument frequently used in the Spanish Baroque – played by Pierre Pitzl with just the right arrangements to give the repertoire chosen an added extra that goes beyond a popular aroma.
I can think of no better way than this promising beginning to set off on a new path. I would like to wish them good luck and offer my congratulations from these pages.
“I am holding a gem in my hands which I cannot but share with all of you. It is the latest recording released by that marvellous soprano from Navarre Raquel Andueza and her group La Galanía, the first to be released by their record label Anima e Corpo. It constitutes a major musical event due to several reasons I will set out below.
First, driven forward by the her unbreakable entrepreneurial spirit, her limitless enthusiasm and her love for music, Raquel Andueza has set off on a new musical stage by presenting a new record label, Anima e Corpo, to the public at a moment marked by the crisis and a lack of perspectives. Nothing, however, is great enough to impede Raquel from gifting us with her delicate manner of singing and her exquisite musical taste, which she feels she should share with all of us.
It should not be forgotten that her record label is named Anima e Corpo (Soul and Body), a highly enlightening indication of what this woman feels about music and its dissemination. It reflects the soul with which she performs her repertoire, the soul with which we listen to her sing, as she finds peace and solace in it, vibrating with emotion. The soul is her and our companion and makes it possible for her to sing and us to feel her at our side.
La Galanía is another novelty Raquel presents in this record. It is a group whose members, Jesús Fernandez Baena and Pierre Pitzl, empathise unconditionally with Raquel’s wonderful notion of music, allowing the three of them to fuse together three souls and three bodies; Anima e Corpo once more.
And what can be said about the repertoire included in this musical gift? It is the outcome of the meticulous, conscientious and constant musicological research carried out by Raquel Andueza and La Galanía aimed at presenting us with some musical pieces of the Spanish 17th-century Baroque, which are interspersed with marvellous English, Italian and French scores that perfumed a period when musical interrelationships and influences in Europe knew of no boundaries.
A fruit of this research work and La Galanía’s enthusiasm, the record includes unpublished works which have never been recorded before. This is yet another gift from Raquel Andueza and her group.
To end this record recommendation on Yo soy la locura, allow me to let Raquel discuss this wonderful work herself. In the carefully crafted book which comes with the record and contains trilingual translations of all the pieces in Spanish, French and English, Raquel states:
“We decided to only use plucked string instruments for the instrumentation: the Baroque guitar, as an essential instrument of the period, and the theorbo, which also featured heavily in 17th century Europe, as the basis for the basso continuo.
Both the preparation and the recording work were a real pleasure, as the variety of registers of the album’s fifteen tracks allowed us to enjoy each piece in a very different way.
I remember, for instance, how we had the feeling that we had been injected with energy to work for hours on end after having recorded Yo soy la locura. However, after recording Sé que me muero de amor, we just couldn’t carry on recording because we felt completely drained despite the fact that we were scheduled to work for another couple of hours.
There is no doubt that it is a real pleasure for us that these sensations and memories have been recorded for posterity in this box measuring 12 by 12 cm.”
The only thing I have to add, Raquel, is that the pleasure is ours being able to listen to you and share your enthusiasm and those memories. Many thanks and we wish you great success for this new record label, Anima e Corpo, which will undoubtedly become a point of reference for “music with feeling”.