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.

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