REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Raquel Andueza & La Galanía and Concerto 1700

Raquel Andueza & La Galanía: “17th century songs and dances of a distinctly earthy character, with lyrics that sometimes left little to the imagination”. Picture: Michal Novak

Beyond The Spanish Golden Age: Raquel Andueza & La Galanía, May 13; Concerto 1700, May 14, both at National Centre for Early Music, York

THE Spaniards rode into town over the weekend.

There is nothing quite so invigorating as hearing music that you have never had the chance to encounter before. Thanks to the sponsorship of Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish equivalent of the British Council, two groups introduced works that were certainly new to these ears and doubtless to many others in the enthusiastic audiences.

Raquel Andueza is a soprano who co-founded her support-group, La Galanía, which normally comprises violin, guitar and theorbo. Even without its violinist, who was indisposed on this occasion, they are a lively combo. They concentrated on 17th century songs and dances of a distinctly earthy character, with lyrics that sometimes left little to the imagination.

The jácara was a romance – we might call it a ballad – usually with a low-life character at its heart. The zarabanda – before the French turned into a sober sarabande – was a wildly erotic dance in its original Spanish and Mexican form, even being banned at court as early as 1583.

These, along with the folia, a lively dance-song, formed the backbone of mainly anonymous works that have been rediscovered in collections outside Spain, mainly in France, Italy and England.

Andueza’s light soprano relished the nuances in her lyrics, in a programme entitled I Am Madness, after Henry du Bailly’s famous song to anonymous lyrics with which she opened.

Andueza’s style was catchy and charismatic, made immensely more so by the stylish, distinctively ethnic playing of baroque guitarist Pierre Pitzl and theorbist Jesús Fernández Baena. They stroked and strummed with panache, alternating the percussive with the delicate. It was intoxicating.

Concerto 1700: “Their ensemble was everywhere remarkably taut”

Concerto 1700, as its name implies, takes its repertoire from the 18th century. The string trio was the dominant ensemble at the Madrid court during the reign of Charles IV, who ruled from 1788 to 1808 until deposed by Napoleon’s brother. Madrid was a magnet for Italian composers in particular. Boccherini was the best known of them and invented the guitar quintet there.

His Second String Trio, Op 34, was packed with gripping detail: headlong scales in thirds involving the two violins; a virtuoso cadenza for the cello ranging over the whole spectrum, coolly despatched by Ester Domingo, during the minuet’s trio (not a place where you expect much action); a chromatic Adagio studded with brisk interjections and ending with a violin cadenza for leader Daniel Pinteño; and a dashing final rondo. The ensemble took all this in its stride.

Cayetano Brunetti, another Italian immigrant, took on a Spanish name – he was christened Gaetano. He produced some dashing coups in his Sixth Trio, notably abrupt breaks in mid-phrase, even more daring than Haydn, and a racy finale studded with birdsong.

These alone were eye-openers, but they were complemented by two trios composed by local talent José Castel that were brimming with good humour. His opening movements, deceptively marked Allegretto Gratioso, were anything but, quite volatile in fact.

What made Concerto 1700 so satisfying were the intimate reactions between the players, with the expressive features of the second violinist, Fumiko Morie, a weather vane of emotions linking her colleagues. As a result, their ensemble was everywhere remarkably taut.

These concerts were the first at the NCEM to be sponsored by Instituto Cervantes. We must earnestly hope that they will not be the last. This music deserves much wider currency than it has received so far in this neck of the woods. It’s simply too good to waste.

Review by Martin Dreyer

NCEM strengthens European bond in Beyond The Spanish Golden Age concerts by La Galania and Concerto 1700 in May

Raquel Andueza and La Galania: May 13 concert at NCEM. Picture: Michal Novak

SOPRANO Raquel Andueza & La Galania and Concerto 1700 will perform in York next month as the National Centre for Early Music, York, strengthens its relationship with Spanish musicians despite the cold shoulder of Brexit. 

The Beyond The Spanish Golden Age concerts on May 13 and 14 will celebrate a new relationship with Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish National Centre for the Promotion of Music (CNDM, Madrid) and the INAEM (Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports) within the framework of the Europa Project.

Performances in York and London will showcase Spanish musicians specialising in Spanish baroque music as part of a project to promote and support such musicians and to demonstrate the richness, uniqueness and quality of Spain’s musical heritage.

In the opening 7pm concert at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, award-winning ensemble La Galania & Raquel Andueza will focus on the Spanish Golden Age of the Baroque, as seen through the eyes – and ears – of the wider European community with music by Henry du Bailly, Jean Baptiste Lully, Enrico Radesca and more.

Basking in the rhythms, sounds and soft breezes of 17th century Spain, the programme combines music of passion, jealousy, love, sweetness, reproach and even death in the name of love.  

In the La Galania line-up are Pierre Pitzl, baroque guitar, Jesús Fernández Baena, theorbo, and Pablo Prieto, violin.

Concerto 1700, founded in 2015 by violinist Daniel Pinteño, highlight Music of the Spanish Enlightenment in a sparkling 7pm programme of 18th century string trios by Castle, Boccherini and Brunetti on May 14.

Concerto 1700: Daniel Pinteño, Ester Domingo and Fumiko Morie, making York debut on May 14

Written to please both the Royal Court of Madrid and a civil society eager to experience new science and culture, this is the music of a Spain connected with the most innovative musical currents of its time.

Joining Pinteño in his ensemble of virtuosity and flair in their NCEM debut are violinist Fumiko Morie and cellist Ester Domingo.

The music of Spain and Spanish musicians have become a regular feature of the National Centre for Early Music’s main programme despite increasing logistical challenges. 

In 2019 Spanish ensemble L’Apothéose scooped the York International Young Artists Prize; in 2022 the NCEM welcomed young vocal ensemble Cantoria to York for a week-long residency, and last November the NCEM co-promoted a UK tour with Diapason d’Or winners El Gran Teatro del Mundo. 

The Spanish theme will continue at the NCEM with this year’s Young Composers Award, for which composers were invited to compose a piece of music based on a popular tune from the Spanish Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries. The short-listed compositions will be performed on May 12 in York by the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble.

NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “With concerts, tours, residencies and award winners, over the last few years the music of Spain and Spanish musicians have been very much centre stage here at the NCEM and we are thrilled to welcome two of Spain’s finest early music ensembles to York. 

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with the Instituto Cervantes and we hope that this is just the beginning of an exciting partnership. We would also like to extend grateful thanks to the Spanish National Centre for the Promotion of Music (CNDM, Madrid), INAEM, Spanish Ministry of Sport and Culture and, providing funding from the EU.”

NCEM direrctor Delma Tomlin

Pedro Jesus Eusebio Cuesta, director of the Instituto Cervantes, Manchester and Leeds, says: “Instituto Cervantes has always worked tirelessly to bring the very best of Spanish culture and heritage to the UK and across the world.

“From our ongoing Spanish language classes to our extensive series of live events, festivals and more, our hope is to reflect the passion of Spain. It’s even more rewarding when we are able to bring not one, but two superb music ensembles to such a prestigious venue as the National Centre for Early Music.

“Both concerts are sure to be unforgettable and a testament to all that we seek to achieve at Instituto Cervantes.”

Francisco Lorenzo, director of the Spanish National Centre for the Promotion of Music (CNDM, Madrid), says: “For the CNDM, the entity of the Ministry of Culture and Sports in charge of the promotion, diffusion and expansion of the Spanish musical heritage, these concerts in York featuring of some of our best groups who specialise in baroque music are key.

“They allow us to showcase the interpretative quality of some of our great Spanish performers in this prestigious venue. In addition, it’s a way of highlighting the value, quality and richness of the Spanish repertoire, which has a unique personality.”

Tickets for each concert cost £22, concessions £20, under 35s, £6, and NCEM patrons £18. Book for both concerts in the same transaction to save £5.

Bookings can be made at, on 01904 658338 or by email sent to