sábado, 18 de abril de 2015

The Choir Project al día | 18-IV-2015

Pedro de Escobar [b Oporto, c1465; d ?Évora, after 1535]: Offertorium | Missa Pro defunctis à 4.
Ensemble Gilles Binchois | Dominique Vellard.
Ephemeris of Renaissance composers [III] | Between Portugal and Spain.

    Robert Stevenson wrote about Escobar:
«Portuguese composer, active in Spain. He was a singer in the chapel choir at the court of Isabella I from 1489 to 1499, and was the only member described as ‘Portuguese’. He composed a Lady Mass in collaboration with Juan de Anchieta, also a member of Isabella’s choir, and one with Peñalosa, Hernández and Alva. Escobar returned to Portugal, perhaps among the musicians accompanying the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella [see Knighton], but on 19 May 1507 he was invited back to Spain as master of the choirboys of Seville Cathedral; the chapter sent a courier to Portugal at the cathedral’s expense ‘calling Escobar to come and take charge of the choirboys’. Peñalosa, since 1505 a canon at Seville, may have taken part in this decision. As magister puerorum Escobar was obliged to teach polyphonic music to the choirboys and also to feed, clothe and board them. Unsuccessful attempts in 1510 to augment his salary through the addition of two cathedral chaplaincies led to his resignation in 1514 [his successor, Pedro Fernández, was appointed on 13 August 1514].

   Assuming that Pedro do Porto [mentioned by Sousa Viterbo and Barbosa Machado] and Escobar were the same person, Escobar was mestre da capela to Cardinal Dom Affonso, son of Manuel I, in 1521. In August of that year Gil Vicente described Pedro do Porto in his Côrtes de Jupiter, performed to celebrate the imminent wedding of King Manuel’s daughter, as the leader of a band of «tiples», «contras altas», «tenores» and «contrabaxas». Escobar's four-part wedding tribute may well be Ninha era la infanta, copied anonymously in P-Ln CIC 60 [see Rees, 1994–5]. In 1535 Escobar still survived precariously in Évora.

    Escobar’s masses and motets show him to have been a composer of uncommon contrapuntal skill and sensitivity to text. Vicente’s Auto da Cananea of 1534 claims Escobar’s fine four-voice motet Clamabat autem mulier Cananea as its inspiration; the piece was to be sung at the end of the auto. It was intabulated by Gonzalo de Baena in his Arte nouamente inuentada pera aprender a tanger [Lisbon, 1540], again by Mudarra [ed. in MME, vii, 1949] in 1546 and praised by João de Barros in his Libro das antiguidades [P-Ln 216]. The enormous vogue that it enjoyed is further attested to by its transmission in two manuscripts copied by indigenous scribes in north-east Guatemala [in US-BLl]. So individual are its characteristics that the anonymous four-voice Fatigatus Jesus, which shares all its individualities, must also be by him [see Rees, 1995]. Escobar’s 18 secular songs in the Cancionero Musical de Palacio have a marked popular flavour. Three of them are in the Cancionero Musical e Poético da Biblioteca Públia Hôrtensia [P-Em 11793], which together with P-Ln CIC 60, ranks among Portugal’s earliest collections of secular polyphonic music.»

   Probably this is the first Iberian polyphonic Requiem ever composed. Escobar is a composer of great talent, but has been somewhat forgotten, in the shadow of the great Spaniards and Portuguese composers. Dominique Vellard has a keen interest in his work, who performs really well. This is a delicate, elegant and very Iberian colored version.