Notes and Editorial Reviews
AVECILLAS SONORAS: VILLANCICOS FROM 18TH CENTURY LATIN AMERICA
Marisú Pavón (sop); Xenia Meijer (mez); Adrián Rodríguez Van der Spoel, cond; Música Temprana (period instruments)
ET’CETERA 1358 (71: 21
Text and Translation)
ARAUJO, Mesa y Carrizo, CHAVARRIA, CORREA, DURÓN, HIDALGO, DurÁn DE LA MOTA, MURCIA, QUIRÓS, SALAZAR, Torrejón y Velasco, XIMENEZ, ZIPOLI, anon
Despite the vast amount of 18th-century Latin American music that has been edited and published, and disregarding for the moment the even greater quantity of manuscripts buried in libraries around the world, precious little of this material has made its way to LP or CD. The earliest recording of this repertoire in my library, an Angel LP (S36008) by the Roger Wagner Chorale and mezzo Salli Terri from about 1968, includes some delightful choral music of Hidalgo, Araujo, and Torrejón y Velasco. To my knowledge it was never released on CD, but it deserves to be. A much later collection on the Symphonia label (91005) entitled “Il secolo d’oro en el mondo nuevo” can also be recommended; it features the work of that wonderful Argentine soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr and the Ensemble Elyma performing 18th-century villancicos and danzas criollas. A disc with a similar program on the Alia Vox label (9834) features Hesperion XX and Jordi Savall, and is also worth seeking out. Then there is the wonderful series on Hyperion entitled “Baroque Music from Latin America” conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore (two volumes so far: 67380 and 67524), with many of the same composers as on the Et’cetera CD.
As with continental music of the same period, there are works in all shapes and sizes, from chamber music and songs to vast compositions for multiple choirs and orchestra. The present CD is devoted mostly to, as the liner notes say, “minor works” of the early 18th century: dance tunes and songs for two voices with instruments, written in the popular style. The latter are called villancicos, but this term is somewhat slippery—at the beginning of the 17th century in Spain, it usually meant a religious work (motet) with a text in the vernacular. Once the villancico was transplanted to the New World, it dropped its sacred connections and absorbed various ethnic influences from the indigenous peoples, even to the point of incorporating African influences from the slave populations.
Minor or not, this is exciting, fascinating stuff that ranges from the languishing (
of Araujo) to the lively (the canción
of Correa) to the exotic (
Cavellero de armas blancas
of Ximenez). The villancico negro,
Tarará, qui yo soy Antón
of Salazar contains both African rhythms and a text in the slave vernacular. The three instrumental numbers included as filler are quite varied as well:
of Durón begins softly and slowly and builds to an exciting climax, while the Cumbeé of Murcia is a laid-back guitar solo with discreet percussion.
The two singers, especially soprano Pavón, have ideal early-music voices and sing with authority and a real feel for the style. No biographical information is given about the director or the instrumentalists, other than that the group is based in the Netherlands and includes mostly Spanish-sounding names, which I suppose is an indication of their backgrounds. They play very well. The instrumentarium is based on numerous sizes and types of guitar, of course, but there is harp, harpsichord, organ and drums, as well as the
, described as Argentinian and Peruvian folk instruments.
Full texts and English translations are included. The recording quality leaves nothing to be desired. In short, an essential acquisition for anyone who has enough Vivaldi and Telemann in his library and is looking to broaden his horizons.
FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
Works on This Recording
Chiquitos mauscript: Quitasol by Anonymous
Adrian Rodriguez Van der Spoel (Guitar)
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