"Tonos Humanos" and instrumental music, c. 1640-1700
El Barroco Espanol "Tonos humanos" and instrumental music, c. 1640-1700
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El Barroco Espanol "Tonos humanos" and instrumental music, c. 1640-1700
Spanish music flourished in the 17th century, yet only now, after two centuries of neglect, are we beginning to realize the greatness of this music. Throughout the Iberian peninsula Spanish composers, singers and instrumentalists have always enriched the lives of their people, but so popular was the music of the 17th century that it was copied outside Spain in Italy, France, Holland, England and even America.
While not the only place, the court in Madrid was the focal point of this musical activity from the beginning of the 17th century. The capilla real included 30 or 40 men who sang, composed or played keyboard instruments, the harp, the "violon" (viola da gamba), the violin, and various wind instruments. It provided music for all religious and nonreligious occasions at court, sometimes supplemented by city musicians from Madrid and elsewhere in the realm; and it also assisted at municipal festivities outside court whose magnificence required the skills and numbers of the best musical group in Spain. There were also gifted musicians at the two chief royal monastery-convents: Descalzes Reales and Encarnacion. Men of much simpler outlook and ability served the five Madrilenean parroquial churches, several other monasteries, and the city. Outside Madrid elaborate capillas were to be found in Cathedrals and monasteries in such places as Valladolid, Segovia, Burgos, Palencia, El Escorial, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, etc.
Religious music dominated. Besides Latin liturgical pieces there were primarily the countless villancicos, and Spanish sacred organ music reached new heights in the hands of Correa de Arauxo (c. 1576-1654) in Jaen and Seville and Cabanilles in Valencia. But there was also much secular music. The tono humano (secular song), which often was intended to be sung as part of a zarzuela or opera, consists of a series of stanzas (coplas) sung to the same music; usually there is also a refrain (estribillo) which precedes and follows each copla. Most tonos are for one voice with accompaniment of basso continuo (lute, harp, guitar or harpsichord with violon) and occasionally obligato instruments (violin, oboe). Early in the 17th century, however, secular songs are usually polyphonic vocal pieces (romances, letras and other poetic types), collected in cancioneros, or guitar pieces with improvised vocal lines. They customarily have instrumental ritornellos (frequently termed pasacalla, folia, ruggiero, or chacona), a practice which was less common in the second half of the century. Only in the middle of the century did the classical tono humano as described above begin to appear, and it is this song which is represented in this recording.
One of the most popular composers in the 17th century in Spain was Juan Hidalgo. A member of the capilla real from about 1631 until his death in 1685, he was primarily a harpist and harpsichordist As a composer he attained considerable fame for his tonos humanos and for his dramatic music. He worked closely with Calderon de la Barca, the principle mid-century court poet and dramatist, with whom Hidalgo helped create the earliest Spanish operas c. 1600. In the operas Hidalgo incorporates the Italian recitative style as well as more traditional strophic arias and choruses. For the Spanish Queen Mother's birthday on December 22,1672, Hidalgo composed music for Juan V6lez de Guevara's "Los celos hacen estrellas", which may be the earliest zarzuela whose music survives intact The five tonos humanos on this recording are typical of Hidalgo's music. On the one hand the short "Ay que me rio de amor" (3 coplas and estribillo) is folklike: triple dance rhythm with hemiolas, small range, syllabic. On the other hand the long "Ay corazon amante" (6 coplas and estribillo) is Italianate: ornate runs that paint the words "exciting the sea into waves" (alborotado el mar en olas). "Con tanto respecto adoran" (5 coplas and estribillo), "Peynandose estaba un olmo" (only 1 copla and the estribillo survive), and "Atiende y da" (6 coplas and estribillo) have considerable motivic development that demonstrates Hidalgo's artistic virtuosity.
Few musicians can claim the notoriety that surrounds the name of Jos6 Marin, perhaps the greatest Spanish song writer. Born c. 1619, he was an ordained priest serving in the Encarnacion Monastery when, in 1654 and again in 1656, as legend has it, he was imprisoned, accused of robbery and several murders, whipped, unfrocked, and banished from Madrid for ten years (the last sentence of which was not completely carried out since he was again in Madrid in 1657). Little else is known about him, but he was sufficiently worthy to merit an obituary in the Gaceta de Madrid on March 17,1699, where his age is given as 80 and it is stated that he was "known in and outside Spain for his rare skill in composition and performance." All Marin's surviving works are tonos humanos, about 60 for one voice and two for two voices, accompanied by guitar or basso continuo. "Aquella sierra nevada" survives in two versions. The one used here is for solo soprano accompanied by a guitar of 5 strings (Fitzwilliam Ms.); it has 6 coplas with an instrumental ritornello at the end of each copla, and there is no estribillo. The other version is a duo for soprano and tenor with basso continuo accompaniment (Madrid Bibl. nac. Mus. 3881, no. 33); it has no ritornello but, in addition to the 6 coplas, whose soprano music is the same as that in the Fitzwilliam Ms., it does have an estribillo, Marin sings in glorious rapture over the seasonal changes in nature, "but in my sorrow there is no change."
Juan del Vado flourished in Madrid from 1660 to the 1680's. He was both organist and violinist in the capilla real and came from a family of violinists (his brother Bernardo joined the capilla real as violinist in 1648 and Felipe del Vado, probably a relative and wrongly identified as Juan by some scholars, joined as violinist in 1633). Although famous as a composer of secular tonadas during his own lifetime, he is known today for a large amount of sacred music, principally in two large manuscripts in the Madrid Bibl. nac. His tonos can be found in the Cathedrals in Segovia and Valladolid and in libraries in Barcelona, Madrid, Munich and New York. "No te embarques" warns of the lure of Sirens, whose voice and harmony can destroy one. It consists of two coplas surrounded by an estribillo.
"Dexa la aljava y las flechas" by the unknown composer De Milanes, is a typical tono with a long estribillo and 4 coplas; it also has a final refrain. Syllabic except for a poignant "Ay" in the estribillo, it is addressed to Cupid, the all-powerful one.
The last great maestro in the 17th century capilla real was Sebastian Duron. After a successful career as organist in the Cathedrals of Seville (1680-1685), Burgo de Osuna (1685-1686) and Palencia (1686-1691), Duron became the successor to Jose Sanz as second organist of the capilla real. His fame as an organist, however, was greatly surpassed by his fame as a composer of sacred vocal music (archives in Spain, Latin America and elsewhere are full of these Latin and Spanish works) and as a composer of zarzuelas and operas for the royal theatre, of which he became a director. In 1706 when Carlos II was forced from the throne of Spain, the loyalist Duron was driven into exile in southern France, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was a prolific composer whose works sometimes are traditional Spanish types - semi-sacred villancicos and tonos humanos - but at other times new Italian types-cantatas resembling those of Alessandro Scarlatti with da capo arias and recitatives. The latter were often so florid that his contemporaries criticized Duron for introducing too many Italianisms into Spain, though surely Hidalgo and others had already made much use of at least some recitative and other Italian devices. "Sosieguen, descansen" is not so radical a departure from Dur6n's Spanish predecessors' music for zarzuelas. It is a segment of the comedia heroica "Salir el amor del mundo" (which may be the same as the very early 1680 zarzuela "Venir el amor al mundo"), a fiesta in two acts (jornados) with a preliminary loa, performed before the king. It is traditional in that it opens and closes with an estribillo and includes inbetween three coplas; it is forward looking in that it also includes a dramatic recitative after the three coplas and before the return of the estribillo. The estribillo uses expressive musical intervals, especially a downward leap. A change of meter from duple to triple distinguishes each copla here from the traditional copla which is in only one meter.
Juan Cabanilles was the greatest Spanish organist of the 17th century. Born in Algemesi (near Valencia) on September 5 or 6, 1644, he was appointed first organist at the Cathedral in Valencia in 1665, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Apparently a condition of his job was for him to become a priest, for one month after his appointment he started working on minor orders and was ordained on September 22, 1668. He was not only a famous composer and performer in his own time but also a highly respected teacher. Pupils came from all over Spain and France, and some of them helped fashion keyboard styles in the 18th century. Cabanilles's surviving compositions are almost exclusively sacred keyboard works, though there are eight liturgical vocal works (including a Mass) found today in Valencia and Barcelona. He wrote hundreds of organ verses (i.e., organ arrangements of or accompaniments to psalms, hymns, Mass sections, the Magnificat, etc.), 183 tientos, 6 toccatas, 5 galliards, pasacalles, batalles, paseos and 1 corrente. The keyboard instrument was probably organ for most of these pieces, but performance on the harpsichord would have been a likely option for any of them and the likely choice for the secular galliards and corrente. The two works performed here - a toccata and a galliard - demonstrate Cabanilles's extraordinary inventiveness in harmony and figuration. The short toccata is basically homophonic; in two sections, the first is with simple elaboration of the chords and the second, which begins without any break, is a faster, more complicated elaboration, with rapid modulations. The galliard is in duple meter and thus has no tie to the well-known 17th-century dance of that name in triple meter. It is a long set of variations, far exceeding the toccata in complexity and intensity, and it is one of Cabanilles's most brilliant works.
Antonio Martin y Coll was one of the leading Spanish organists of the next generation. He studied at the Franciscan Monastery San Diego in Alcala de Heneres where he also was organist, and later he served as first organist at the Monastery San Francisco el Grande in Madrid, remaining there until his death. He published five large volumes of music, mostly for the organ (1706-1709). Volumes 1-4 contain almost 2000 works by other, mostly anonymous composers, and present a good sampling of 17th-century Spanish organ music. Volume 5 contains Martin y Coil's own works, mostly verses. Not all the works are intended for the organ; volume 5 includes Martin y Coll's treatise on keyboard instruments in general and the harp, which suggests that many of the pieces might be performed on any keyboard instrument or the harp, and some of the pieces in the earlier volumes actually designate other instruments. Furthermore, it is possible that the secular works such as the three on this recording would have been just as appropriately played on gamba, with harpsichord or lute and violon as sustaining instrument, as on the organ. The first diferencias (variations) will immediately remind the listener of Corelli's more famous setting of the same harmonic bass "La Folia".
The Chacone and Canary are also harmonic bass patterns. The Chacone is based on the pattern G - F - E flat -D - D - G. The Canary, taken from a famous late-16th-century court dance, is the shortest of the three variations: the bass pattern is D - G - F sharp - E - D.
-John H. Baron, 1978