sábado, 23 de marzo de 2013

The Choir Project al día [23-III-2013]

[Music for Holy Week].
Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla [c.1590-1664]: Lamentatio Ieremiae Prophetae. In Coena Domini à 6.
The Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips.
Lamentations in Amercia.

   Martyn Imrie wrotes about Padilla:
"In 1519 the Spanish adventurer, Hernan Cortés, landed near the
site of modern-day Veracruz on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, leading an expedition from Cuba to explore and secure the interior for Spain, as a prelude to colonisation. With him were just a few hundred men, some horses, several dogs, and one cannon; in front of them pestilential swamps and forests, and a twenty-five million-strong native population. Yet less than three years later, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (soon to become Mexico City), and the Aztec nation, had fallen to him and to Spain. Cortés was appointed governor of this Nueva España (New Spain) in 1522. Hard on his heels came the settlers and the Church (the first Franciscan monks arrived in 1524). A frenzy of building followed, with many new towns laid out in the Spanish style of a central plaza (zócalo) surrounded by a grid of streets, and of course a multitude of churches were built to accommodate the innumerable new converts from the native population.
By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the whole country had been fully subjugated. With such rapid progress and growth, church musicians were needed, and must have found employment in the rich new colony an attractive proposition. Among these were Hernando Franco, born near Alcántara, Spain, who emigrated to Guatemala City in 1554, later becoming choirmaster (until his death in 1585) at Mexico City Cathedral; and Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla himself, the composer of the music recorded here.
Padilla was born in Spain at Málaga, probably in 1590, and he was trained at the cathedral there by Francisco Vásquez; by 1613 he was maestro de capilla at the cathedral in Jérez de la Frontera and later, for about four years until 1620, he held the same post at Cádiz. When he went to Mexico is not known precisely, but he had become a singer and assistant maestro at Puebla Cathedral by 1622, being promoted to maestro de capilla in 1629, a post he held until his death in 1664. The city of Puebla (de los Angeles), a staging post on the road between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City, was founded in 1531, unusually a completely new foundation, rather than supplanting an existing native settlement. It quickly established itself as the second city of the new colony and by 1539 it had a cathedral. The present cathedral, however, was begun in 1562, finally completed in the mid seventeenth century, dedicated in 1649 by Bishop Palafox, (who was also notable for donating to the city a public library of five thousand volumes in 1646).

   Padilla would have found a thriving musical culture in the churches, the repertoire featuring many of the major European composers of note of the time (we find works by Palestrina, Morales, Guerrero, Navarro, Victoria, A. Lobo, Rogier, Ghersem, Vivanco preserved in the Puebla Cathedral music library). Music in New Spain was always modelled on that of Old Spain, and the cathedral music tradition was fully established there by the beginning of the seventeenth century. At the old cathedral, Padilla’s predecessors included Pedro Bermúdez (1603-ca.1606) and Gaspar Fernandez (1606-1629), both of them composers.

   The new cathedral at Puebla was particularly impressive, its interior decorated in gold, onyx and marble, belying its dull grey outside, second in magnificence only to that of Mexico City eighty miles to the north. And it was completed by and thrived under Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who arrived there in 1640. He was not only wealthy but had an interest in, and an appreciation of, Art in the service of the Church. So it was during his episcopacy that much money was invested in the choir and instrumental players, and in music for them. The choir under Padilla in 1645 included 28 men and 14 boys, some of the men also being players of instruments such as the harp, the organ and the bajón - bringing Puebla Cathedral to the position of richest musical establishment in the Spanish Empire outside Spain itself.

   Padilla’s surviving music comprises Masses, Motets, Psalms, Hymns, a Passion, Holy Week music and two sets of Lamentations. He may also have written villancicos, for the church at that time actively encouraged their composition, to be performed at Matins and Vespers on saints’ and major feast days. Many villancico texts (in Spanish, of course) survive from the period, often by the famous Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, but the music is no longer extant.
Perhaps such occasional, popular pieces were not thought worthy of preservation.

   The source for the main bulk of Padilla's surviving music is a large choirbook preserved in Puebla Cathedral itself. It was copied in 1663 by order of the Cathedral Chapter, who desired that all Padilla’s works be collected and bound together, so great was the esteem in which his music was held during his lifetime. Double-choir music (for eight voices) dominates his output - of course, the layout of Spanish churches at the time, with the choir bisecting the nave, enclosed on three sides and with the singers sitting in two sets of rows opposite each other, favoured cori spezzati and their antiphonal possibilities, and the use of instruments.
During Padilla’s time, instrumental participation, often lavish, would have been routine, certainly at the more important Feasts, and some of the wind players would have been expected to sing too at those services during Advent and Lent, when generally only organ and bajón were used. For this recording, organ, harp, theorbo and bajón are used to accompany and for doubling the voice parts [The Sixteen's album "Stream of Tears"].

   Notable in Padilla’s output are several pieces for high voices and baritone for Holy Week, and some highly expressive motets for five and six voices, in a confident, but conservative polyphonic style, carrying on that great tradition of native Spanish polyphony of the sixteenth century. The new Italian style does not seem to have attracted Padilla; however, there is a rich harmonic language, replete with chromatic shifts, that links his music firmly to the seventeenth century. An outstanding and obvious feature is the energy and rhythmic drive he generates, notably in the double choir pieces: syncopations, frequent off-beat entries, jumps from major to minor (sometimes overlapping), all combine to keep his music very alive and often positively exciting, full of New World sunshine.
In the Church year, there is a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing, and Padilla shows in his music a subtle and acute sensitivity to the chosen texts, joyful or sad. Lamenting, Padilla demonstrates his versatility in his two sets of Lamentations, as well as in briefer essays, motets such as his setting of Stabat Mater or Versa est in luctum.
But often excitement and passion seem ready to burst out at any moment, at least in the double-choir music.

   [...] Padilla made two settings of verses from the Lamentations of Jeremiah: one (for SSAB) is for Good Friday, and the magisterial Maundy Thursday set (for SSATTB) recorded here. Padilla
reduces the scoring at Ghimel. Migravit ...angustia, to two sopranos, alto and bass, otherwise he maintains a continuous flow of dense polyphony, producing a rich and colourful sonority."

   For Peter Phillips:
"[...] His six-voice setting of the Lamentations is one of his finest achievements, employing an impassioned musical language which is spiced up with the augmented intervals beloved of every Iberian composer of note in the early seventeenth century, Portuguese as much as Spanish. The reduced-voice section at Ghimel, followed by the verse Migravit Judas, is a classic case of this. I have never elsewhere come across the astonishing harmonic move he makes at inter gentes. The fact that this set is scored for SSATTB points to the influence of Victoria and other Spaniards, who tended to favour this line-up in six parts. Victoria's seminal setting of the Requiem is scored like this. Quite why it was thought appropriate to use such a potentially bright sound for Requiems and Laments is one of the many mysteries of the Spanish school."

   This music is a great example of the influence of Hispanic polyphony in the New World. This piece is really "Spaniard" and European. The treatment of eight voices is really superb, brilliant and profound.
The version by The Tallis Scholars and Peter Phillips is really exciting: absolutely "British sound", perfect pitch, balance, lines crossing, counterpoint, harmonic interleaving... An incredible piece and performance that complete and absolutely essential album.

jueves, 21 de marzo de 2013

I Día Europeo de la Música Antigua

   Pues sí, con este interesante título, internacionalizado como 1st European Day of Early Music, el Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne [REMA], ha promulgado la celebración, por primera vez, de un día europeo dedicado a las músicas pretéritas, aquellas compuestas antes de que el siglo XVII empezace a desaparecer, y que tanto auge están teniendo desde que en la segunda mitad de pasado siglo, la naciente corriente HIP -Historically Informed Performance- comenzase a prestar atención a estas músicas y a su interpretación con criterios historicistas.

   Esta sociedad es la máxima defensora y cabeza visible de la música antigua en Europa, por lo que hemos de alegrarnos de tan magnífica inicativa. A lo largo de todo el día de hoy se podrán disfrutar de una serie de conciertos y eventos relacionados con este repertorio a lo largo de Europa. La lista de eventos puede consultarse aquí.

  Del mismo modo, a través de la plataforma U-Sophia, podrán seguirse en streaming algunos de los eventos organizados a lo largo y ancho del continente.

   Maravillosa inciativa, que esperemos encuentre una gran acogida y sea objeto de numerosas ediciones en los años venideros, porque no se nos ocurre mejor de manera de festejar la efeméride del nacimiento de Johann Sebastian BACH -este caen 328-, mejor exponente de estas músicas, que con la celebración de este día tan especial. ¡Qué viva la Música Antigua!

Críticas del "Pórtico de Zamora, 3.13" [Qvarta pars]

Catedral reinventada
Una feliz iniciativa del «Pórtico de Zamora» invita a redescubrir el templo zamorano

   Sábado, 23 horas. Conforme uno se va a acercando al emblemático edificio de la capital por la amplia y abierta plaza, va percibiendo la algarabía que los cientos de personas, que se encuentran a la espera de acceder al templo románico, emiten desde su posición ya dentro del enrejado que delimita la construcción con la plaza. El estruendoso sonido de la matraca nos saluda desde el atrio, haciendo el camino más intenso. Muchos esperan ansiosos la entrada.

   Al acceder al templo, la tenue luz que emana de los cirios y velas nos da la bienvenida. La penumbra y el silencio son solo interrumpidos por los pasos de los que acceden al interior. Una hermosa crucifixión sobrecoge por su tamaño y su tono azulado en el crucero. Es la muerte de Cristo, primero de los puntos que propone el festival en esta peculiar visita catedralicia. Allí, Jaime Calvo-Murillo espera en su podio para comenzar a tañer su violoncello. Las notas de una de una de las danzas que componen las suites para dicho instrumento por Johann Sebastian Bach comienzan a fluir. Las interpreta entregado, sereno, concentrado. La belleza de la música y el ambiente casi transporta a los visitantes a un estado de recogimiento absoluto.

   A nuestra espalda se perciben las notas de un curioso instrumento. Sí, es la tiorba de Jesús Fernández Baena, quien en su precioso marco, iluminado por cirios y con un precioso cuadro tras de sí, interpreta la enigmática y subyugante «Toccata arpeggiata» de Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger. Cerca nos espera la Capilla de San Ildefonso, segundo de los puntos centrales de la visita -triunfo de Cristo sobre la muerte-. El ambiente creado por el delicado y hermoso timbre de la tiorba veneciana, su excelsa digitación y calidez interpretativa, consiguen crear un ambiente casi etéreo, inabarcable.

   En la lejanía se oyen unas voces. El claustro, tercero de los pilares fundamentales, alberga al conjunto Schola Antiqua y su director Juan Carlos Asensio, quienes nos ofrecen un «Tenebrae factae sunt», tan apropiado en estas fechas. El magnífico empaste, color vocal y conocimiento del repertorio, además de su vestimenta, parecen trasladarnos a pleno Medievo.

   Las bases están firmes. Ahora a cada cual solo le queda deambular con plena libertad por las naves, capillas, trascoro? disfrutando y eligiendo qué mirar, qué escuchar, qué disfrutar. Bach, Piccinini y más canto gregoriano esperan. Una manera distinta de conjugar música y arte, emoción y espiritualidad. Una experiencia multisensorial que marcará un antes y un después en la manera en que los visitantes se acercaron a la Catedral de Zamora. Un acierto absoluto para el «Pórtico», que, esperamos, sea el comienzo de muchos otros en este sentido. La luz se enciende, la música se apaga, el camino se hizo corto. Ahora, la memoria hará el resto. 

[Crítica aparecida en La Opinión de Zamora el 11-03-2013].

sábado, 16 de marzo de 2013

The Choir Project al día [16-III-2013]

[Music for Holy Week].
Diogo Dias Melgaz [1638-1700]: Lamentaçao de Quinta Feira Santa a 8.
The Sixteen - Harry Christophers.
The unique and archaic Portuguese style.

   Robert Stevenson wrotes in then "New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians" about Melgaz:
"Potuguese composer and teacher. On 10 May 1647 he was admitted as a choirboy at Évora Cayhedral, where his teacher was Bento Nunes PEgado. He was elected master of the boys on 14 March 1662, 'mestre da crasta' in 1663 and 'mestre de capela' in about 1678. In 1697 his formar pupil Pedro Vaz Rêgo began to substitute for him bacause he had become blind. However, the cathedral chapter continued to pay his three stipends until July 1699, indicating the esteern in which he was held.

   Melgaz's extant compositions in cathedral archives at Évora and Liboa, some of them duplicates, are all Latin liturgical works. Of the four incomplete vilhancicos in Évora Public Library, two have Spanish texts, one a Galician text and one a Portuguese text. Melgaz also edited a plainchant hymnal containing 152 melodies, all barred in either binary or ternary metre. He was the first Évora composer to use bar-lines in his polyphonic works, to write funcional harmony and provide independent instrumental parts for harp, organ and unfigured bass (Évora Cathedral employed a harpist as early as 1643). Usually sober in his motets, he expands into elaborate 'fioriture' in his double-choir accompanied Pentecost sequence."

   For Ivan Moody the music by Melgaz:
"in many ways typifies the relationship of Portuguese music in the later 17th century to that of other European countries. In Portugal there was no sudden explosion of Monteverdian ‘secunda prattica’; on the contrary, the ideals of Palestrinian polyphony remained of the highest importanceto Portuguese composers for a variety of reasons. One of these wasthe subjection of Portugal to Spanish rule from 1581 to 1640, which meant that thecultivation of liturgical polyphony wasone of the clearest ways of keeping alive the country’s cultural identity. It should not be thought, however, that Portugal was completely isolated from artistic currents from elsewhere in Europe: a glance at the catalogue of the library of King John IV, whose contents were lost in the earthquake of 1755, reveals the presence of printed works by Monteverdi, the Gabrielis, Grandi andUgolini. Rebelo and Melgás Polychoral techniques were known toas great a master of traditional contrapuntal style as Duarte Lobo (his 'Opuscula' of 1602 contain works for as many as eleven voices, though a modern edition has yet to appear) [...].

   Melgás, though even more eccentric (in the true sense of the word, working ashe did in provincial Evora) also fits into the Portuguese tradition of contrapuntal working, even when his music is at its most ‘vertical’. Melgás must have received his musical education at the cathedral school in Evora, and he himself taught there until three years before his death. It is not entirely clear what his immediate musical influences were, but his own voice is quite distinctive, joining in his motets a simple transparency and brevity of utterance to an expressively ‘baroque’ treatment of the text. 'Popule meus', though it employs two choruses,is a good example, and it is something that may be found in earlier Portuguese music for Holy Week such as the Responsories by Cardoso and Martins.The text comes from the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday, and remains one of the few texts in the western rite to retain words in Greek (the ancient Trisagion‘ Holy God, Holy Mighty, HolyImmortal, have mercy upon us’). [...] The Lamentations (for Holy Thursday) are for eight voices, and it is fascinating to compare them not only with Rebelo’s works but also with the fine polychoral works of Spaniards active atthis time, such as Mateo Romero (‘El Capitán’) or Carlos Patino. Melgás retains a fondness for clear textures whichis distinctively Portuguese, and their impact is the stronger for that."

   An incredible piece, mixed Renaissance and Baroque style, very late for Renaissance style. This is the particular musical characteristic for this Portuguese composers. The lines, melodies, "tactvs"... are Renaissance, but the line for independent instruments, the traitment of two choirs, the harmonic advances, soloists... are Baroque -but it's more than 1670-.

   I'm very interseting in the the polyphony composer Portuguese school in 16th and 17th centuries. For me, this is a unique school in Europe in a different musical style in this period.
The list of composers is really incredible, for their quality, but most of them are now almost unknown, unfortunely.
I am researching this school lately and I'm sure that this is the authentic "Idade d'ouro" of Portuguese music.

Críticas del "Pórtico de Zamora, 3.13" [Tertia pars]

En torno a Händel  
The Academy of Ancient Music regalan a Zamora un memorable espectáculo

   Con el elocuente e inequívoco título de «Handel & Friends» se presentó The Academy of Ancient Music en la Iglesia de San Cipriano. El conjunto británico, fundado en 1973 por Christopher Hogwood, es una de las formaciones rutilantes dentro del panorama mundial de las orquestas barrocas. Con una formación que se reducía casi a la mínima expresión, el fabuloso conjunto inglés ofreció un espléndido concierto en el que la figura de Georg Friedrich Händel -alemán de nacimiento, pero considerado por muchos como inglés- fue el pilar que sustentó la estrucutra del mismo, al menos por importancia en cuanto a su figura compositiva.

   Del «caro saxone» se interpretaron dos de sus sonatas en trío, fantásticos ejemplos del tratamiento de la «sonata da camera» en su producción, en las que pudimos disfrutar de unos adaptaciones curiosas para dos violines, traverso, flauta de pico, oboe y bajo continuo, aprovechando la intercambiabilidad y versatilidad del instrumentario en la época. Las otras dos obras fueron sendas sonatas para flauta de pico y oboe, en las que el lucimiento del instrumento solista es marca de la casa en el estilo de teutón.

 [La inmensa figura
de Händel fue
destacada por la calidad
de su trabajo, así como
por el latente influjo que
tuvo sobre algunos de sus

   El programa se completó con piezas de compositores que de una u otra manera estuvieron ligados a la figura del sajón, ora por el desarrollo de su carrea londinense, ora por período romano. De esta forma, la presencia de Arcangelo Corelli está más que justificada, pues ambos se encontramos en la «ciudad eterna» durante un lapso temporal no muy extenso. De Corelli se interpretaron dos de sus sonatas, pertenecientes a su Op. I -sonate da chiesa»- y Op. II -sonata da camera». Francesco Geminiani tuvo un importante desarrollo de su carrera en las islas británicas, de ahí el contacto con nuestro protagonista. De este, se interpretó la segunda de las sonatas de su Op. I, en un arreglo del mismo compositor para dos violines. Charles Avison, maestro británico, también fue influído por la inmensa sombra «händeliana». De él, dos sonatas de sus Op. I y VII, la última de ellas realmente interesante, en la que el papel de la cuerda se relega casi a un mero relleno armónico, dejando el concurso protagonista al clave. La interpretación que nos brindó The Academy of Ancient Music será largamente recordada. Si hubiera que describirla con una sola palabra, esa sería fluidez; y es que cuando algo tan complejo termina por resultar tan asombrosamente fácil, es que hay mucho talento y trabajo detrás.

   El papel de Rachel Brown -traverso barroco y flauta de pico- y Frank de Bruine -oboe barroco- fue fabuloso, con una elegancia y digitación fascinantes. Alastair Ross y Andrew Skidmore realizaron una asombrosa labor en el continuo, sirviendo de constante sustento a todo el cojunto; es destacable el poderoso sonido del cello barroco de este último. Pavlo Beznosiuk y Bojan Cicic fueron quizá los grandes protagonistas de la noche: su solvencia técnica, empaste, preciosismo en la ornamentación, límpida afinación y tersura sonora, hicieron de las obras para dos violines las grandes perlas.

   Si Händel es uno de los grandes maestros, The Acadmy of Ancient Music no es lo menos en lo interpretativo. Feliz encuentro. 

[Crítica de La Opinión de Zamora el 10-III-2013]

jueves, 14 de marzo de 2013

Críticas del "Pórtico de Zamora, 3.13" [Secvnda pars]

Arte orgánica

Brillante recorrido por el órgano ibérico a cargo de Juan María Pedrero


    El órgano ibérico, también llamado de batalla, fue una tipología particular en la Península Ibérica durante los siglos XVII y XVIII, denominado de este modo por la existencia en él de algunas características particulares, como la trompetería de batalla -conjunto de tubos dispuestos de manera horizontal, paralelos al suelo-. Cinco fueron los representantes de la producción hispánica para órgano: Francisco Correa de Arauxo, Jusepe Ximénez, Gabriel Menalt, Joan Cabanilles y José Lidón; diversas escuelas, cinco manera de hacer, pero un único «modus vivendi» y una misma pasión: el órgano. El complemento a este color patrio vino de la mano de Johann Jakob Froberger, uno de los padres del desarrollo de la tecla teutona a comienzos del siglo XVII, así como de Guillaume Gabriel Nivers, representante de la escuela organística francesa de la segunda mitad del XVII

   Breve pero intensísimo viaje, que bajo el título «Sacriis Solemnis. Fiesta y liturgia en el Corpus Christi», nos trasladó a otro tiempo, gracias al sobrio, aunque imaginativo estilo de Correa de Arauxo, con su interesante mezcla de estilo renacentista y barroco; pero también al particular estilo de la escuela aragonesa por medio de Ximénez, o la catalana con Menalt y Cabanilles; dejando para el final el sorprendente estilo de Lidón, con su mezcla de elementos arcaizantes con auténticas innovaciones cromáticas y armónicas

   La lectura de Juan María Pedrero ha resultado absolutamente referencial. Aprovechando el hermoso color sonoro y las fantásticas posibilidades del órgano ibérico de la Iglesia de San Ildefonso, del que se hizo un uso variopinto pero homogéneo en la registración, el joven, aunque experto maestro zamorano, hizo gala de una técnica ejemplar, expresividad y un conocimiento realmente profundo del repertorio interpretado. Pedrero llevó al disfrute, durante la hora que duró su recital, a los numerosos oyentes que llenaban la iglesia de la capital. Al igual que titulara el organista español del siglo XVI, Tomás de Santa María, a su más importante tratado organístico, todo un «Tañer de fantasía».

[Crítica aparecida en La Opinión de Zamora el 10-III-2013].

miércoles, 13 de marzo de 2013

Críticas del "Pórtico de Zamora, 3.13" [Prima pars]

Recuperemos a Nebra

Fantástico recital de María Espada y Al Ayre Español


   El concierto que abrió la undécima edición del «Pórtico de Zamora» que este año, por causas de índole económica, se ha visto reducido a un único fin de semana, parece tener un mensaje mucho más profundo que el meramente musical —si es que ese, por sí mismo, no lo fuera—. Es bien sabido que el patrimonio musical español no ha pasado por sus mejores momentos enlas últimas décadas, ni siquiera cuando el aporte de la Musicología ha venido en la ayuda y rescate de piezas que dormían el mal llamado sueño de los justos.

El paso de los años
pondrá en su justa
medida el
inconmensurable talento
de este artista aragonés,
gracias, en gran parte, a la
labor de músicos como los
que ayer actuaron en San

   La música de José de Nebra, músico aragonés que vivió en la primera mitad del siglo XVIII, no tiene absolutamente nada que envidiar a la producción musical europea del momento. En sus «Cantadas al Santísimo», Nebra muestra todo su genio, casi como un catálogo de lo que todo su arte es capaz de expresar. En ellas podemos encontrar de todo: desde momentos de dramatismo al más puro estilo teatral, hasta auténticos pasajes de bravura y «furore» a la italiana, pasando por momentos con un lirismo absolutamente evocador, que son capaces de llevar al sobrecogimiento al más frío de los oyentes.Y es que
no exageramos si decimos que en estas obras hay un estilo claramente italiano, en el que pueden vislumbrarse destellos de algunos de los compositores de la «Accademia della Arcadia» —una de esas academias artísticas que florecieron con profusión en la Italia del XVII—, pero también de los mismísimos Antonio Vivaldi y Nicola Porpora.

   La soprano María Espada mostró su amplio dominio técnico, con un registro bien trabajado: rotundo el grave y pasmosamente fácil el agudo. Transitó con soltura en las complejas coloraturas a las que Nebra reta al solista, y se mostró grandilocuente e imaginativa en las ornamentaciones de los «da capo». Si bien, destacó más su faceta cálida y contenida, que la más estrictamente virtuosística. Su manejo de los matices y su extraordinaria dicción son todo un dechado de cómo interpretar este repertorio. El concurso instrumental de los miembros deAlAyre Español destacó por la homogeneidad y «feedback» entre sus miembros y el director. Es un lujo cuando se ve disfrutar a un intérprete de esa manera tan honesta. Magníficas las «partes altas», con una Farran James casi en estado de gracia. El continuo resultó elegante, delicado, omnipresente,
con gran labor en la parte de la cuerda frotada y el exquisito sonido de la tiorba de Jesús Fernández Baena.
   Eduardo López Banzo, director y clavecinista, completó el programa con cuatro sonatas de Domenico Scarlatti, autor tremendamente  ligado a España, en las que destacó, más por la expresividad y entramado lineal —gran lectura de la «Fuga K.41»— que por la brillantez técnica. 

   López Banzo ha luchado y realizado una ingente labor recuperando y estrenando la obra de este gran compositor, como demuestra su rescate de estas cantadas, albergadas en un archivo guatemalteco —de las que no se conserva copia en España—. Su labor, aunque ya apreciada, obtendrá su merecido premio, cuando con el paso de los años, la figura de José de Nebra sea puesta en el lugar del que su talento le hace justo merecedor.

[Crítica aparecida en La Opinión de Zamora el 09-III-2013].

sábado, 2 de marzo de 2013

The Choir Project al día [02-III-2013]

[Music for Holy Week].
Tomás Luis de Victoria [1548-1611]: Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae a 5 [Lamentatio I; Feria V in Coena Domini, Ad Matutinam], from Officivm Hebdomadae Sanctae.
The Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips.
ty of the complexity.

   Peter Phillips says about Victoria's Lamentations:
"Victoria's nine Lamentations contain some of his most intense, mystical and moving music and rank alongside the Requiem as one of his greatest achievements.

   The Spanishness of Spanish polyphony is often invoked. There is an impression that in their worship the Spanish have a fierceness, coupled to a mysticism, which sets them apart. This way of thinking was current a long time ago: Michelangelo, when asked by the Florentine painter Pontormo how he could best please a Spanish patron, replied that he should ‘show much blood and nails'. Such rawness has readily been attributed to their music, too.

   My experience is that only Victoria's music has quite this special intensity of feeling to it, and then only in his six-voice Requiem and music for Holy Week. But it is this intensity, in the end, which makes him so distinctive, not only in the wider European context but also amongst his compatriots. Of all the great High Renaissance composers, Victoria's writing can have the most immediately identifiable atmos­phere. And in the purely Spanish context his greatest achievements cannot easily be confused with those of Lobo, Guerrero,Vivanco, de las Infantas, Esquivel, Navarro, even Morales, though the works of these men may be confused with each other. The question is how he achieved this unique atmosphere.

   The irony is that Victoria, like Morales before him, spent many of his formative years (from 1565 to about 1587) in Rome studying the international style which the Flemish had brought there, and which Palestrina was in the process of bringing to new heights of perfection just at that time. In general his compositions from this period do not show anything very unusual - for example his wonder­fully sonorous six-voice motets often sound like very good Palestrina. The opening of his Vidi speciosam is so like the opening of the older master's Tu es Petrus as to seem like a deliberate act of homage. They both set Dum complerentur in a similar idiom. Yet the story of the Lamentations is suggestive: they were finally published in 1585, right at the end of Victoria's time in Rome; but there is an earlier manuscript copy of them in the Sistine Chapel Library (I-Rvat 186) which contains them in an earlier version. In this they are longer, less carefully organized harmonically, and less poignant in their setting of the texts. Before he allowed them to be published, Victoria had carefully revised every phrase. His ‘Spanish' style was worked out in Rome.

  The 1585 publication, known as the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae, included all Victoria's music for Holy Week: these nine Lamentations, the eighteen Responsories, two Passions and a number of other pieces. It is all of a plangent austerity which, when put alongside his six-voice Requiem of 1605, has long been held to represent Victoria and his Spanishness at its most typical and best. In fact it is only part of the story, since even when he had returned to Spain to become a priest (by 1587 at the latest) he wrote music in other idioms - including one of the most outward-going compositions of the period, the Missa Pro Victoria, based on battle noises - which was just as typical of him and perhaps Spain. But the style of the Holy Week music is particularly telling, almost defying analysis. For example much of it is not properly polyphonic. The underlying harmony is still as simple as it always was in sixteenth-century music, yet seems to have gained a new tension in the way Victoria used it. And the melodies that come from it are elemental, wrapped round the words, striding up and down with incredible purpose. There is not a note wasted - and yet this is still art music, not pared down for congregational use. Victoria had achieved his own match of function and expressivity.

   Since the Holy Week services were the most dramatic and darkest in the Church's year, Victoria's expressivity was given full range. The nine Lamentations were composed for the first Nocturn at Matins on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this seminal week, three for each service. The famous Responsories (recorded by The Tallis Scholars on CDGIM 022) were written for the second and third Nocturns of each service. Each of these three services had three Nocturns in which three Lessons and three Responses were interwined. For some reason, possibly because there would simply have been too much music, Victoria set the Lessons (the Lamentations) for the first Nocturn and the Responses for the second and third Nocturns, but not both.

  Victoria clearly intended his nine Laments to be heard as an overall musical experience which, however effective across three days of liturgy, makes them ideal for a recording. As they proceed the number of voices gradually increases, with the final Jerusalem section always expanding the scoring, so that there is a crescendo not only within each Lament but within each set of three, and then over the nine. Most of the nine start with a four-voice section, normally leading to a five-voice Jerusalem. However the third Lament on both Thursday and Friday starts in five and ends in six; and the third Lament on Saturday starts in six and ends in eight. A feature of this process is that the amount of counterpoint does not increase, so Victoria's chords simply become more monumental. By the time we reach the eight-voice section, which is partly for double choir, the effect is deeply impressive.

   The 'Jerusalems' are a culmination of every section and sub-section, with the slightly unusual detail that in some of the Laments (but not all) Victoria has set these words twice, the second version scored for more voices than the first. Arguably they should not both be sung, but since there is no firm evidence as to why the composer provided two, we decided not to leave anything out. I also specifically asked the singers to produce a more forthright tone for the body of the text - where the prophet complains so bitterly about the fate of the holy city - as compared with the ‘Incipits', the Hebrew letters and the 'Jerusalems' themselves."

   These recording completes the vision that Peter has about Victoria's music for Holy Week.
For me, Victoria's nine Lamentatiosn are one of the best examples of this genre in the history of music.
Is simply an incredible opera. All his mastership is contained here. This works are Victoria in essence.

   The performance of this recording is really great, probably the best that ever was recorded. This album is Tallis Scholars in essence too.
Absolutely essential.