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CD reviews

"Yo soy la locura 2"

La Galanía
Dir: Raquel Andueza

rec: April 2014, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Auditorio
Anima e Corpo - AEC005 (© 2015) (56'11")
Liner-notes: E/F/S; lyrics - translations: E/F
Cover, track-list & booklet

anon: Con esperanzas espero [1]; De mis tormentos y enojos [3]; Jácara de la Trena; Passacalles; Quién menoscaba mis bienes [3]; Seguidillas de la Venta; Tres niñas me dan enojos [3]; Zarabanda del Catálogo; Henry DU BAILLY (?-1637): Yo soy la locura [2]; Juan BLAS DE CASTRO (1561-1631): Ya no les pienso pedir; Luis DE BRICEÑO (fl 1610-1630): Si queréis que os enrame la puerta; Juan HIDALGO (1614-1685): Crédito es de mi decoro; Santiago DE MURCIA (c1673-1739)/improvisation: Impossibles; Gaspar SANZ (c1640-1710) / Lucas RUÍZ DE RIBAYAZ (1626-?): Marionas [4,5]

Sources: [1] Angelo Notari, Prime musiche nuove, 1613; [2] Gabriel Bataille, Airs de différents autheurs, mis en tablature de luth, 1614; [3] Giovanni Stefani, ed., Scherzi Amorosi, 1622; [4] Gaspar Sanz, Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española y método de sus primeros rudimentos hasta tañerla con destreza, 16743; [5] Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz, Luz y norte musical para caminar por las cifras de la guitarra española y arpa, tañer, y cantar a compás por canto de órgano; y breve explicación del arte, 1677

Raquel Andueza, soprano; Alessandro Tampieri, violin; Manuel Vilas, harp; Jesús Fernández Baeza, theorbo; Pierre Pitzl, guitar; David Mayoral, percussion

In 2015 I reviewed a disc entitled Yo soy la locura, the first recording by the Spanish soprano Raquel Andueza with her own ensemble La Galanía. The present disc is a sequel and includes comparable repertoire, pieces for solo voice written by Spanish composers of the 17th century.

The title is derived from the song which is on both discs, written by Henry Du Bailly: "I am madness, that which alone inspires pleasure and sweetness and brings joy to the world". In his liner-notes Álvarez Torrente writes: "Madness, whether real or fake, was one of the most attractive subjects in literature and music, not just because it provided justification for odd social behaviour, and presented reality from perspectives that would otherwise not have been approved of, but also because it allowed the exploration of a range of passions within one character that would not have been credible in a sane person." He then refers to the commedia dell'arte and to what is probably the most famous piece of Spanish literature, Don Quixote, a novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

The repertoire is a part of Spanish music history which receives more attention these days than has been the case before. It was often thought that the baroque style which emerged in Italy around 1600 made a rather late appearance in Spain, at the end of the 17th century. While it is largely true that music for the church was rather traditional and strongly rooted in the stile antico and that Italian opera didn't establish itself until the early 18th century, the monodic style found already wide appeal in secular music in the first decades of the 17th century. One of the members of La Galanía is Manuel Vilas who for Naxos has recorded several albums with todos humanos (Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3), as secular songs for solo voice were called. The two discs by Raquel Andueza and her colleagues also explore this part of 17th century Spanish music.

It is notable that some songs were included in foreign collections. Three of the items in the programme of this disc are taken from a collection which was published in Venice in 1622. They are all anonymous and we don't even know whether they were written by a Spanish composer. After all, the title song is also from the pen of a non-Spanish composer, the Frenchman Henry du Bailly. It was included in a collection of songs, edited by Gabriel Bataille and published in Paris in 1614. Spanish music, and in particular the chitarra espagnola, enjoyed considerable popularity in France and Italy. Si queréis que os enrame la puerta is from a book of poems with instructions for accompaniment by Luís de Briceño, a Spanish immigrant who lived in Paris. In Italy it was the connection between Spain and Naples - since 1503 part of the Spanish empire - which resulted in the dissemination of Spanish music across Italy.

The above-mentioned song by Briceño is in fact a folía, a dance of Portuguese origin which was quite popular across the continent in the 17th and 18th centuries. Other songs are also dances, among them the three pieces Álvaro Torrente reconstructed for this recording. These reflect the 'popular' culture, such as the Prison Cell Balad (Jácara de la Trena - a title given by the editor), written by the nobleman Francisco Gomez de Quevedo y Villegas Santibáñez. It is about a criminal and written in germanía slang, spoken by criminals in the Golden Age. The other two are erotic; the texts are rather vulgar, and whereas I am always in favour of reading the texts while listening, in this case it seems a good idea to just enjoy the music and ignore the lyrics.

Some songs are connected to the theatre. That is the case with Crédito es mi decoro by Juan Hidalgo, the main composer of music for the theatre of the 17th century. It is a very emotional song which brings us most close to the Italian monody of the 17th century. It includes several features of that kind of repertoire, such as harmonic tension and chromaticism. ¿Quién menoscaba mis bienes? is interesting in that the first half of every stanza comprises three questions which are then answered with a word which rhymes with the last word of the question. This question and answer technique was often used in Italian opera, mostly in the form of an echo. Álvaro Torrente suggests that Juan Blas de Castro's song Ya no les pienso pedir may also have been performed as part of a theatrical piece, probably written by Hidalgo.

This disc is a worthy and interesting sequel to the first. Again the repertoire is most interesting, even though I am not happy with the inclusion of some pieces whose texts are rather dubious, to put it mildly. Raquel Andueza shows a perfect feeling for this music. It helps that she is a native speaker of Spanish but she also makes a clear distinction between the songs of various genres. She approaches the more popular items and the more serious pieces differently, in accordance to the content. These songs are for voice and basso continuo; in many pieces we also hear a violin and I just wonder why that is the case. I assume the violin parts are improvised or written out before the recording. There are also some pieces in which percussion is involved. Again I would like to know what was the reason for that and whether there is any historical evidence that percussion was used in this kind of repertoire. That said, the contributions of the players are outstanding; they also deliver engaging performances of the instrumental dances.

Those who have the first disc in their collection will certainly like to add this sequel.

Johan van Veen (© 2017)

Relevant links:

La Galanía

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