Notes and Editorial Reviews
Eduardo is the brother of Gregorio Paniagua, whose early-music ensemble (including Eduardo and two more brothers along with several other members) created a lot of fun on records back in the 1970s. The all-stops-out approach was then the prevailing style in medieval music (René Clemencic and the late Michael Morrow were two kindred spirits with a similar approach). Now Eduardo gives us medieval Spanish music in the same vein, rich in instrumental interludes and accompaniment and instrumental renditions of several pieces.
Some of the cantigas in this collection, mostly unrecorded until now, form a unified group in the appendix to the original manuscript. Those who are familiar with the manuscript El Escoriai j.b.2
(long available in facsimile) will recall that, in addition to the Prolog and 400 cantigas (plus two more not notated) in the main body, there is an appendix in front containing a Prolog and twelve more cantigas. Note that here the pieces in the appendix are numbered 410-422 in Walter Mett-mann's scheme, instead of the usual numbering supplied in the facsimile (Ap. I, Prolog, and Nos. 1-12). (Appendix II, a set of ten cantigas found in another manuscript from Toledo now in the Madrid National Library, is another matter. Three of these have been recorded.)
Of this group of thirteen cantigas, only the popular Nenbre ssete, Madre de Deus (421 in this numbering) and three others have ever been recorded even partially. Four other cantigas from the main list are also included, of which Quantos me treveren hárán (120) was recently recorded complete by Sequentia (Fanfare 16:5), and four more are performed instrumentally. The cantigas are sung with all the verses (complete performances are now the norm, a benefit for grasping the form of the works), so this set ranks with the most important collections in the recent discography (18:5, p. 83; see another collection in 19:2).
The performances are lively and informed by a native awareness of the content and context. If they lack something, it is the contrast that would relieve the incessant excitement of the approach that Paniagua favors. Some of the loors, or songs of praise, that Paniagua adds from the main body of the collection provide this relief, including Velia e minya ( 180), which he singles out as the most beautiful song on the disc.
The performing forces are varied, with two sopranos, a countertenor, and a tenor, as well as choirboys from the monastery at the Valley of the Fallen (outside Madrid). Countertenor Luis Vicent produces more of a falsetto than a true countertenor voice. The usual wide variety of period instruments is employed with abandon. Four of the selections run about fifteen minutes, and two of them would be even longer if some verses were not recited over the music. Two of them include all of thirty verses, surpassing the twenty-five verses of Quen a festa et o dia (195) that Thomas Binkley once recorded (his is still, however, the longest performance on disc at twenty-six minutes). I count 127 cantigas on disc now, but that still leaves almost 300 to go. There are collections of cantigas that I enjoy more, but no one who is aggressively amassing a cantiga collection can afford to pass up this one.
-- J. F. Weber, FANFARE [5/1997] Read less
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