An interesting compilation of romances that had already been recorded in previous collections by the artist herself, who is very well known for her work in relation to this repertory. Apart from her voice, she is a master of various instruments, which she uses to accompany herself: harp, organ, spinet and a vihuela de arco. She doesn't dismiss the idea of solo vocal interpretations either (La madre de la novia) although a restrained instrumental support helps to highlight the poetry, whose themes have been taken from Spanish-Jewish and Balkan traditions (Alia Música is a reference for the former). Esther Lamandier's timbre is unmistakable. Her characteristic gestures of the glottis in certain pieces are used to create a special context for the ornamentation of some passages, as we saw in her recording of the Cantigas by Alfonso the Wise. It is a contrast to the sonority of the Armenian repertory. Performed a cappella, the use of microtones, special ornamentation and augmented intervals recreate the eastern tradition very well. Such different texts (lullabies, wedding songs, pure romances.) are dramatised to just the right degree with the voice and in relation to their varying origins.
Lamandier's work is based on philological criteria and information gathered by ethnomusicology and requires the constant comparison of possible textual and musical variants, the latter still transmitted orally today in some isolated communities. In some cases, as in the Balkan repertory, the melodies have been taken from recent Romanian and Bulgarian folklore. All in all, this is an interesting Iberian compilation of music in danger of extinction.
ERIC VAN TASSEL