Iberian Triangle / La Romanesca, Australia
Music of christian, moorish and jewish Spain before 1492





medieval.org
move.com.au
Move MD 3114

1992






SEPHARDIC SONGS
traditional
1. Por allí pasó un cavallero  [2:59]
2. El Rey de Francia  [7:18]
3. Moricos, los mis moricos  [3:23]
4. El polo  [4:50]

CANTIGAS DE SANTA MARIA
13th c.
5. Mui gran dereit' é das bestias obedecer  [3:17]  CSM 52
6. Tod' ome deve loor dar  [4:02]  CSM 230
7. Da que Deus mamou o leite do seu peito  [4:17]  CSM 77
8. A Madre de Deus devemos tener mui cara  [12:07]  CSM 51

JARCHAS
mozarabic — music: Aurora Moreno · Esteban Valdivieso
9. Ben ya sahhara  [4:07]
10. Ben aindi habibi  [5:51]

FROM THE CHRISTIAN COURTS
15th & 16th c.
11. Perdí la mi rrueca  [2:27]  anon.
12. De Antequera salió el moro  [6:20]  anon. — arr. Miguel de FUENLLANA
13. Danza alta  [2:19]  Francisco De La TORRE
14. Pase el agoa  [2:39]  anon.
15. Tres morillas  [4:12]  anon.








LA ROMANESCA
Hartley Newnham — countertenor, percussion
Ruth Wilkinson — vielle, recorder, voice
Ros Bandt — recorder, flute, psaltery, percussion, voice
John Griffiths — lute, vihuela, percussion



LA ROMANESCA has been a leading force in early music in Australia since 1978, and has developed a special interest in the performance of medieval monophonic and polyphonic song, although the group's repertory spans the twelfth to seventeenth centuries. La Romanesca has toured widely throughout Europe, the United States and Asia, appearing at major festivals at home and abroad. Hartley Newnham performs music ranging from Troubadour songs to the avant-garde. He has performed and broadcast in many major European musical centres and, together with pianist Nicholas Routley, has premiered many new works. Ruth Wilkinson specialised in the study of recorder, viola da gamba, violone and ensemble performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under Hans Martin Linde, Jordi Savall and Jaap Schroeder. In addition to her work with La Romanesca, she is a member of the leading baroque ensemble Capella Corelli. Ros Bandt plays renaissance and baroque recorders, renaissance flute, psaltery and percussion. She is also renowned in the area of new music as a composer, performer and sound sculptor, having performed her own original music in Europe and America. Her original improvised music is also available on Move records. John Griffiths specialises in the performance of early plucked instruments and is an authority on early Spanish music, a field in which his musicological research is widely published. He co-directs the Fourteenth Century Recording Project, and is Reader in Music at the University of Melbourne.





Recording: Melba Hall, University of Melbourne, May 1991
Digital recording and editing
Sound engineer: Martin Wright
Production: Martin Wright, John Griffiths
Notes and text translations: John Griffiths
℗ 1992 Move Records
© 1992 Move Records
www.move.com.au
MOVE RECORDS, Box 266, CARLTON SOUTH 3053, AUSTRALIA








IN 1492, THE SAME YEAR THAT COLUMBUS LANDED IN AMERICA, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabela of Castille and Fernando of Aragón, achieved their ambition of a Spain unified under a single faith by expelling non-Christians or forcing their conversion. Until that time, Spain had been home for three cultures, Christians, Moors and Jews. Not always peacefully, these peoples had co-existed for centuries and had enjoyed periods characterised by a certain harmonious and mutual interdependence. The Moors, Arabs from North Africa, had occupied large portions of Spanish territory continuously since 711AD, and the presence of the Sephardic Jews (from the Hebrew word for Spain) has an equally long history. The Moorish Caliphate of Córdoba rose to be one of the splendours of European culture and learning in the early middle ages, and the magnificence of their later seat of government and culture is today symbolised by a single monument—the palace of the Alhambra in Granada.

Moorish and Sephardic musical traditions have not survived in written form as historical documents in the same way as the music of Christian Spain. The abyss that separates us from the fifteenth century prevents anything more than speculation regarding the melodies that may have been sung to surviving texts and the sounds made by the lutes, fiddles and other accompanying instruments depicted in manuscripts, or played by illustrious musicians whose virtuosity is recorded only in prose. In terms of the sound of the music, the strongest reference points are the modern performance traditions of both Sephardic and Arabic cultures, although it is impossible to disentangle the past from the present with any certainty. It is therefore with imagination and invention that La Romanesca has attempted to reconstruct this portrait of the musical diversity of Spanish song in the period immediately preceding both the great expulsion and Columbus' great voyages.


SEPHARDIC SONGS

The music taken from Spain by expelled Jews has survived into the twentieth century, albeit in a manner transformed by five hundred intervening years, in diverse areas of North Africa as well as centres further east: Jerusalem, Istanbul, Sarajevo and Salonika among them. Initially endeared to these refugees as a fond memory of their Spanish heritage, the popular songs and romances that had been the common property of all sectors of Spanish society acquired the status of a tradition among the Sephardim, a means of reaffirming their own identity across the centuries.
Both in melody and text, the group of songs included here are adapted from modem Sephardic performances gathered in various parts of the Mediterranean diaspora and treated in a style that might be akin to popular performance in the 15th century. The opening song, Por allí pasó un cavallero, is obviously drawn from popular tradition, the two romances El rey de Francia and Moricos, los mis moricos belong to the world of courtly legend, while El Polo, presumably a reference to the great Portuguese navigator, portrays a weary traveller, tired of a life of excess.


CANTIGAS DE SANTA MARIA

The Cantigas de Santa María, although composed and compiled at the court of Alfonso X, the Wise, (1221-1284) some two hundred years prior to the focal period of this recording, are the principal relic of early monophonic song on the Iberian peninsula. The four hundred songs of praise to the Virgin also convey, through the telling of countless miracles, the strength and fervour of the Catholicism that fired Fernando and Isabela's Spain. Alfonso and his collaborators must have had to gather together melodies from many different sources, popular and courtly, to set these stories. Some of them might possibly have even been adapted from popular song or from dance music.

Of the four cantigas presented here, two are treated as instrumental pieces. The melody used to set Cantiga 52, Mui gran dereit' é das bestias obedecer is performed in the style of a dance, and Cantiga 77, Da que Deus mamou o leite do seu peito is treated as a free improvisation for psaltery and lute. Cantiga 230, Tod' ome deve loor dar is one of the songs in praise of the Virgin that constitute every tenth cantigas of the collection, while Cantiga 51, A Madre de Deus devemos tener mui cara recounts a miracle in which the Virgin Mary intercedes to help and protect a knight during a siege in Orleans in central France. A great miracle occurs as a wooden effigy of the Virgin raises its knee in a moment of crisis to intercept an arrow aimed at the man who carries it.


MOZARABIC JARCHAS

Only written accounts of performances, musicians, and instruments give testimony to the music of the Spanish Moors, and it is difficult to estimate to what extent its distant echoes may be heard embedded in contemporary Andalusian folk music, or the various Arabic music traditions spread throughout the Mediterranean. Some poetry is preserved, however, in the Spanish language but written using both Arabic and Hebrew script, and represents the oldest known Spanish poetry. Dating from between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, these jarchas were additions to Arabic songs, sung after the final strophe of the original text, and have been used here—with new music by Aurora Moreno and Esteban Valdivieso—to complete our image of the Iberian Triangle. The text of Ben ya sahhara draws on poetry by Al-Laridi and Al-A'ma Al-Tutili


FROM THE CHRISTIAN COURTS

Music preserved in the cancioneros compiled at the court of Fernando and Isabela and for other patrons shows a music of different colour to that of the Moors and Jews, although their texts share many of the same themes. Courtly secular song of the period was indebted to popular tradition, and captures its spirit in simple melodies and harmonies, largely devoid of contrapuntal complexity. The songs here are in the typical forms of the villancico and the romance. While the romance De Antequera sale el moro, praising one of Fernando's important victories immediately prior to the fall of Granada, is drawn from Miguel de Fuenllana's vihuela book Orphenica Lyra (1554), the other pieces are found in the Cancionero de Palacio and the Cancionero de la Colombina. The Danza alta is the only instrumental dance preserved in the Cancionero de Palacio, both Perdi la mia rrueca and Pase el agoa are representative of courtly popular song, and Tres morillas me enamoran, originally set in Baghdad at the court of caliph Harun-al-Rashid, but here safely transposed to the Spanish city of Jaén, is typical of the many songs that praise the beauty for which Moorish girls were renowned.


LA ROMANESCA has been a leading force in early music in Australia since 1978, and has developed a special interest in the performance of medieval monophonic and polyphonic song, although the group's repertory spans the twelfth to seventeenth centuries. La Romanesca has toured widely throughout Europe, the United States and Asia, appearing at major festivals at home and abroad. Hartley Newnham performs music ranging from Troubadour songs to the avant-garde. He has performed and broadcast in many major European musical centres and, together with pianist Nicholas Routley, has premiered many new works. Ruth Wilkinson specialised in the study of recorder, viola da gamba, violone and ensemble performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under Hans Martin Linde, Jordi Sayal! and Jaap Schroeder. In addition to her work with La Romanesca, she is a member of the leading baroque ensemble Capella Corelli. Ros Bandt plays renaissance and baroque recorders, renaissance flute, psaltery and percussion. She is also renowned in the area of new music as a composer, performer and sound sculptor, having performed her own original music in Europe and America. Her original improvised music is also available on Move records. John Griffiths specialises in the performance of early plucked instruments and is an authority on early Spanish music, a field in which his musicological research is widely published. He co-directs the Fourteenth Century Recording Project, and is Reader in Music at the University of Melbourne.





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