Live !  /  The Ivory Consort

Troubadours across the Pyrenees |
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Widdershins Records


1. Stella splendens   [7:22]   LV  2
Latin / Llibre Vermell, 14th cent.

2. Una matica   [8:07]
Judezmo / Shephardic

3. Man habbak   [9:17]
Arabic / Zajal-Muwassaha

4. Mariam matrem   [5:01]   LV  8
Latin / Llibre Vermell, 14th cent.

5. El Rey de Francia   [5:09]
Judezmo / Shephardic

6. Reis glorios   [6:04]
Occitan / Guiraut de Bornelh, ca. 1160-1200

7. Ondas do mar de Vigo   [2:53]   ca  I
Galician-Portuguese / Martin Codax, f.b. 1250

8. Kalenda maya   [9:17]
Occitan / Raimbaut de Vaquieras, 1180-1207

9. Fort m'enoia   [4:31]
Occitan / Monk of Montaudon, 1193-1210

10. A la una   [3:33]
Judezmo / Shephardic

11. A chantar m'es   [3:52]
Occitan / Contessa de Dia, early 13th cent.

12. Adir la-na   [6:14]
Arabic / Muwassaha — Ibn Baqi, d. 1145

13. Gran dereit   [6:12]   CSM  34
Galician-Portuguese / Cantigas de Santa Maria, 13th cent.

The Ivory Consort
Jay Elfenbein

Jay Elfenbein — voice, vihuela d'arco, vielle, bass oud, rebab and psaltery
Margo Gezairlian Grib — voice, percussion and vielle
Rex Benincasa — voice, percussion and hurdy-gurdy
Dennis Cinelli — saz, bass oud, gittern and mandora
Daphna Mor — zurna, ney, percussion and recorder
Haig Manoukian — oud

© Jay Elfenbein / Widdershins Recordings

Recorded live at
· Saint Bartolomew's Church, New York City;
· Madison Early Music Festival, Madison, WI; and
· Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ.

These performances present examples of a shared culture, the myriad outpourings of different peoples who lived in medieval southwestern Europe, in what is now called Spain and southern France.

In musicological circles, questions such as “Who influenced whom?” are the subject of fervent debate. Unfortunately, in some instances, even the most well-researched theories tend to foul the academic nest with naive, self-serving, and unintentionally or not, racist attitudes about one people’s cultural superiority over another’s.

Rather than taking sides and naming a winner in this contest (a solution that makes us all losers), we present this program in the hope that by opening our ears and minds to a few possibilities, we can all be winners—even those of us who don’t give a hoot about “influences” or history. These possibilities are:

– That two peoples living in close proximity to each other often share a common culture and language, changing them according to their needs. This can even happen when they come from very different religious or ethnic backgrounds — whether they are living in convivencia (peaceful coexistence); subject to all manner of restrictions and deprivations, as Jews and Christians have been at various times under Muslim rule in Andalucía; or even at war with each other, as the Christians and Muslims were for centurias during the Reconquista.

– That something old can sound new. Insight and appreciation of ancient art forms—and much of their beauty—can be restored by courageous artists who, with a historically-informed background and genuine love of the material, dare to take educated guesses and give from their heart renditions of what would otherwise truly be “lost” arts.

– That great music and poetry are not the province of any one culture. In the words of the 13th-century troubadour (composer-poet) Raimon Vidal, in his Las Razos de Trobar (“Reasons to Compose”):

"All good Christians, Jews and Saracens, Emperor, prince, King, duke, count, viscount, commander, vassal, cleric, citizen, and peasant, small and great, daily give their minds to composing and singing, by either inventing or listening, speaking or hearing; no place is so solitary or isolated that, as long as there are a few or many, you will not hear singing either by a single person or many together; even the shepherds in the mountains know of no greater amusement than song. All good and evil things in the world are commemorated by the troubadours. Indeed there is no good or evil saying put into rhyme by a troubadour that is not remembered every day, because composing and singing are the driving force behind all valor."

Jay Elfenbein,
Director, Ivory Consort