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Diego PISADOR (1509/10 - after 1557): "Si me llaman..."

El Cortesano

rec: Oct 22 - 27, 2008, Sevilla, Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Paz
Carpe Diem - CD-16276 (© 2009) (68'17")

A quand'a quand'haveva, villanesca a 4; Aquellas sierras madre, villancico a 4; En la fuente del rosel, villancico a 4; Fantasía a tres bozes del 4° tono; Fantasía del 6° tono a 4; Fantasia por el 4° tono sobre la sol fa re mi; Fantasía sin passo ninguno a tres bozes; Gentil cavallero, villancico a 4; ¡Guarte, guarte, el rey don Sancho!, romance; Herida va la Garça, villancico a 4; La mañana de San Juan, romance; Lagrime meste, madrigal a 4; Madonna mia famme bon'offerta, villanesca a 4; No me llames sega la erva, villancico a 4; O bene mio famm'uno favore, villanesca a 4; ¿Para qués dama tanto quereros?, endechas de Canaria; Pártense partiendo yo, villancico a 3; Passeavase el rey moro, romance; Por una vez que mis ojos alcé, villancico a 4; Pues te partes y te vas, villancico a 4; Quién tuviesse tal poder, villancico a 3; Sempre me fing'o, villanesca a 4; Si la noche haze escura, villancico a 3; Si me llaman, a mí llaman, villancico a 4; Si te quitasse los hierros, villancico a 4; ¿Y con qué la lavaré?, villancico a 3

José Hernández-Pastor, alto; Ariel Abramovich, vihuela

There are not many amateur composers who have made a name for themselves and whose works are still performed. Diego Pisador is one of them, and although his music isn't that often performed and isn't held in great esteem by some, the fact that a whole disc is devoted to his only only collection of music is an indication that he is not to be neglected.

Pisador was living in Salamanca and made a living as a tax collector. In his spare time he played the vihuela and was dreaming about publishing a book with tablatures for the vihuela. With this book he aimed at helping out people who wanted to learn how to play the vihuela. It took him 15 years to compile the book and then two years to print it. That was something he had to do himself, as the printing industry wasn't that well developed. It cost him a fortune, and probably to cover the costs he sued his father and brother over the inheritance his mother had left.

The book contains 95 compositions, ranging from masses by some of the great masters of polyphony, like Josquin, Gombert and Morales, to Spanish and Italian secular vocal pieces - all intabulated by Pisador - and some fantasias of his own making. This disc contains the bulk of the Spanish songs - romances and villancicos - as well as four Italian villanesche by Adrian Willaert. Unfortunately the composers of the various pieces are not given in the booklet - only the four compositions by Willaert are easily recognizable.

The programme delivers an interesting survey of the kind of songs which were popular in Spain in Pisador's time. There is quite some variation in the texts and the music. As one may expect, a number of them deal with love, including laments about the absence of the beloved (Partense partiendo yo) and the longing for love (Si te quitasse los hierros). Some are about (female) beauty, as the villancico which gave this disc its title, Si me llaman: "They call to the prettiest, I ensure they call me".

Two specific genres should be mentioned. First, the three romances are related to the role of the Moors in Spanish history. Passeavase el rey moro, for instance, is about Alhama, taken by the Christian troops, ten years before the fall of Granada. The second genre is the endechas de Canarias: "Originally funeral songs, later they became laments for ill-fated love", the programme notes say. An example is ¿Para qués dama tanto quereros?: "What's the use of loving you so much, my lady? If I am to lose myself and to lose you, best would be not to see you again". The character of the texts is also vary different. Quién tuviesse tal poder is quite sophisticated, whereas En la fuente del rosel is playful and lighthearted.

The first time I heard the Spanish alto José Hernández-Pastor was in the Early Music Festival Utrecht of 2008, which was entirely devoted to Spanish music. I was struck by the beauty of his voice and his artistic versatility. Listening to this disc was another fine experience, because of the subtlety of Hernández-Pastor's interpretation, his excellent delivery of the text, his differentiated ornamentation and brilliant control of dynamics. With Ariel Abramovich he has a completely congenial partner. He gives excellent support and contributes some nicely played solos. He uses three different vihuelas in various tunings.

This is a disc to treasure: beautiful music sung by an excellent singer with a beautiful voice, and played by a fine artist on beautiful instruments. What more one could ask for?

N.B. The lyrics (with English translations) can be downloaded as a pdf file from the site of Carpe Diem. There are some discrepancies between the titles in the pdf file and in the tracklist at the disc. In my worklist I have followed the versions in the pdf file.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

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