El Cortesano's artistic project originated in Basle (Switzerland) in 1998, after the fortunate meeting of two young musicians passionately dedicated to Renaissance music.
Although both studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, José Hernández-Pastor and Ariel Abramovich's musical backgrounds and life experiences differ significantly, a fact that they have used to their advantage merging their diverse musical approaches in a complementary way. Perhaps inspired by their youthful enthusiasm, the duo have rejected convention, engaging in research into the rich musical and poetical repertoires of the Spanish Golden Age and selecting those strands that allow them to create a novel voice.
Guided by the conviction that reciting can make wonders out of words, as Castiglione put it in the book after which they are named, El Cortesano began to experiment with means of bringing the music closer to the text. This fundamental questioning has been the key to defining their singular artistic vision and is responsible for the magical dynamic they create with their audiences, which in turn feeds their live performances.
El Cortesano has been able to inspire introspection while evoking the sensual nature of the Spanish Golden Age in such diverse situations and places as the Estella's Early Music Week, Gijón's Early Music Week, Vigo's Are More Festival, Utrecht's Early Music Festival, and renowned concert halls such as the Palau de la Música de Valencia or the Príncipe Felipe in Oviedo. They have performed in Spain, France, the US, Morocco, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Ecuador and Argentina.
El Cortesano's recording career began in 2002 with El Parnasso (issued by the French label Arcana), the product of intense research into the Castillian vihuelist Estevan Daça's work (Valladolid, 1576), which had not been recorded before. The album received audience and critical acclaim, which helped strengthen the duo's identity and encouraged them to envisage further projects.
In March 2009, the German label Carpe Diem is releasing El Cortesano's second album, a new take on the work of the often misunderstood Salamanca-born vihuelist Diego Pisador.