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"Misión: Barroco Amazónico"

Soledad Cardoso, sopranoa
Sphera AntiQva
Dir: Javier Illán, Pablo Gutiérrez

rec: Sept 15 - 17, 2010, Madrid, Musigrama studio
Columna Música - 1CM0269 (© 2010) (60'11")
Liner-notes: E/D/F/S; lyrics - no translations
Cover & track-list

anon: Aqui ta naqui Iyaîa; Caîma, Iyaî Jesusa; Folías; Pastoreta Ychepe Flauta; In hac mensa novi Regisa; Quid moror Maríaa; Sonata V in D; Sonata VI in G; Domenico ZIPOLI (1688-1726): All'elevazione in F

Pablo Gutiérrez, Javier Illán, violin; Daniel Lorenzo, viola; Keiko Gomi, cello; Silvia Jiménez, double bass; Elíes Hernándis, Daniel Bernaza, bajones de hoja de palma, jerures; Miguel Ricón, theorbo, guitar; Jorge López-Escribano, harpsichord, organ; Daniel Garay, percussion (indigenous and European instruments)

In Europe musical instruments, style of composing and performance practice have changed greatly since the baroque era. Things are different in South America, where in some Amazon communities the same instruments are used and the same music is performed as in the 17th and early 18th centuries. That was the time when Jesuit missionaries came to spread the Christian faith and brought music from their home countries with them. It is quite surprising how well this repertoire went down with the Indians in the Amazon regions. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 they kept their music alive, copied it, adapted it and performed it, with the instruments they had learnt to play and with their own instruments. When new communities were founded, they took the music with them. This helps explain why there are several archives in South America which include large amounts of music from or in the style of the baroque period.

The present disc comprises pieces from two such manuscripts which are preserved in Bolivia, connected to two Indian people, the Moxos and the Chiquitos. We hear various instrumental pieces for two treble instruments, mostly intended for violins, and basso continuo. Some of the vocal items are in the indigenous languages, in particular those from the Chiquitos archive, whereas the pieces from the Moxos archive are in Latin. All the compositions on this disc are anonymous which is an indication that they were written by indigenous composers. The exception is the piece by Zipoli, which is a bonus track and is not connected to the rest of the programme.

This kind of repertoire has been recorded before, but this disc has something special to offer, as the liner-notes explain. "MISIÓN: Barroco Amazónico is the first time this music has been recorded using indigenous instruments such as jerures and bajones (wind instruments with multiple pipes made of palm leaves), chononos (vegeteable [sic] rattles) and snake rattle shakers' and percussion instruments made from toucan's beak. These instruments were made by natives of the places which gave rise to the music and they impart an exotic as well as authentic sonority to the performances". That is the reason that here the trio sonatas, as conventional they may be in their form, are quite different from the trio sonatas we know in recordings of European music.

The vocal items also have conventional traits, such as the use of the da capo form and of the combination of recitative and aria. These kind of pieces were originally sung by boys, which suggests that they must have been highly-skilled singers, especially because various items include frequent large intervals and demand great flexibility. Soledad Cardoso meets these requirements with ease, and delivers passionate performances. The same goes for the instrumental items: Sphera AntiQua's focus is baroque music from Spain and Latin America. Its members have been educated by some of the leading early music performers in Europe and appeared in various early music festivals. Elsewhere I reviewed their first disc, devoted to the Spanish 18th-century composer Jaime Casellas. I was not totally satisfied with it, especially because of the contributions of the singers. However, this disc is most enjoyable, presenting original repertoire from a tradition which deserves to be kept alive. The performances are technically accomplished, but also stylish and energetic. Anyone interested in the music of Latin America should consider it. I can imagine that lovers of world music may also be interested, in particular because of the use of indigenous instruments.

Johan van Veen (© 2013)

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