CD Review: Music of Miguel de Irízar with the Capilla Jerónimo de Carrión



For thirteen years, beginning in 1671, Miguel de Irízar was Capellmeister of the cathedral in Segovia, Spain. He had been a musician most of his life, rising through ranks and gaining experience at other churches, and now held a post which ultimately cemented his place in Spanish music history. By all accounts, his tenure was one of distinction.

Irizar wrote a prolific amount of church music, including masses, psalms, lamentations, motets, and villancicos—typical of the kinds of works a man in his position was expected to provide. He also copied music by a number of Spanish contemporaries such as Cristóbal Galán and Juan Hidalgo. Irízar’s entire output remains intact and is housed in the Segovia Cathedral Archive.

To date, there is only one recording solely devoted to Irízar’s compositions—a 2004 Verso label release entitled Ecos y afectos (“Echoes and Affects”) with the Capilla Jerónimo de Carrión.

Directed by lutenist and musicologist Alicia Lázaro, the Capilla tackles a cross section of Irizar’s music, including select villancicos and motets, as well as a jácara, and a mass for six voices.

The Capilla’s performance is beautiful and often quite moving. The small ensemble of voices captures the essence of each piece, giving the listener an intimate performance which vividly evokes the 17th Century (the large-scale villancico Y los angeles canten, sung by the Escolania de Segovia, gives a similar effect).

The straightforward and unencumbered approach to basso continuo instrumentation (harp, organ, and bassoon) is not only historically ideal, but offers a clarity and simplicity needed for the proper accompaniment of 17th-century Spanish repertoire, in particular.

I especially enjoyed the villancico Hazo Anton, with its humorous text setting and tongue-in-cheek delivery. Like the rest of the recording, it show Irizar’s excellent reputation and rediscovery to be well-deserved.

BUY: Miguel de Irízar, ‘Ecos y afectos,’ Capilla Jerónimo de Carrión

LEARN MORE: Visit the Fundación Don Juan de Borbón website for more information about Miguel de Irízar, Alicia Lázaro, and the Capilla Jerónimo de Carrión.

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(An interior of Segovia Cathedral. Photo: Peter Smithy)

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