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El Camino De Santiago - Alfonso X El Sabio / Paniagua, Et Al

Release Date: 11/08/2005 
Label:  Pneuma Classics   Catalog #: 680   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alfons X (El Sabio)
Performer:  Eduardo PaniaguaHenar AlvarezDavid MayoralCesar Carazo,   ... 
Conductor:  Eduardo Paniagua
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ALFONSO EL SABIO Cantigas CSM 26, 313, 268, 218, 175, 278, 253 Eduardo Paniagua, cond; Musica Antigua PNEUMA 680 (74:29 Text and Translation)

Eduardo Paniagua launched a complete set of the cantigas attributed to Alfonso the Wise in 1994, and at the same time started his own record label for these and many other discs of early Spanish music. The project was taken over by Sony Iberica for a few years and distributed here ( Read more style="font-style:italic">Fanfare 20:5), but the Sony branch folded, Pneuma regained its rights, and it has continued ever since. Distribution in this country, however, has been erratic (see 29:3, a review that was confusing after an editor altered the facts, and 30:1) or nonexistent, so it is good news that the label now has a major distributor here. There are at least 33 discs in this series, covering over half of the 422 cantigas. When a discography of these songs was published (18:5), there was already a wide assortment of other recordings from many performers.

The contents of this disc are typical of many in Paniagua’s series: seven cantigas sung in full and one played instrumentally (CSM 77, eventually sung on a later disc in this series). These works, strophic in form, were seldom recorded with more than one or two verses until 1970, culminating in 1980 when Thomas Binkley filled one side of an LP with 25 verses of one work (4:6). In 1994, when Panigua was about to begin his series and Jordi Savall made a collection of these songs (17:3), I counted 50 of these songs recorded complete. More recently, that has been the normal approach, and Paniagua routinely performs the complete piece, though sometimes the pace is quickened by reciting the text of several verses, but at least the story line is preserved. Each disc holds a group of songs united by a theme, in this case the pilgrim way to Santiago de Compostela in northeastern Spain, one of the four leading sites of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages (the others were Canterbury, Rome, and the Holy Land). The cantigas are primarily stories of miracles wrought through the intercession the Virgin Mary, so not surprisingly devotion to St. James at his shrine mostly yields in these stories to Marian miracles at the church in Villacazar de Sirga. Five of the seven stories told here relate the experiences of pilgrims on the way to Compostela who are cured at Vilasirga.

The songs are uniformly lively, sung with gusto by three vocalists and accompanied by an ensemble of five playing medieval instruments. This dates back a few years (29:3). Two of these, Non é gran cousa (CSM 26) and De grad’ a Santa Maria (CSM 253) were recorded by Philip Pickett (16:2), but the others had not been recorded complete until this appeared. The Galician texts are printed with Spanish translations, and the notes summarize the story of each song. Paniagua’s style is not the only way to hear these songs, of course, and a few have been recorded without instruments, but Paniagua’s self-assured method, his enormous collection of songs, and the beautiful and colorful presentation of each digipack make it undeniably attractive. Apart from the few issues that I reviewed, I have bought most of the discs in the series. I look forward to those that I still haven’t found.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Cantigas de Santa María: Excerpt(s) by Alfons X (El Sabio)
Performer:  Eduardo Paniagua (Flute), Eduardo Paniagua (Psaltery), Henar Alvarez (Voice),
David Mayoral (Percussion), Cesar Carazo (Voice), Luis Antonio Muñoz (Voice),
Jota Martínez (Hurdy-gurdy), Felipe Sanchez Mascuñano (Vihuela), Eduardo Paniagua (Percussion)
Conductor:  Eduardo Paniagua
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; Spain 

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