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"Iyaî Jesucristo - Music from the Jesuit Missions in 18th century Bolivia"

Xenia Meijer, mezzosoprano
Música Temprana
Dir: Adrián Rodríguez van der Spoel

rec: July 6 - 8, 2007, Schiedam (Neth), Westvestkerk
Et'cetera - KTC 1384 (© 2009) (71'32")

anon: Ane Nupaquîma sucheteña (Stabat Mater Chiquitano); Iyaî Jesucristo, elevation; Buenas Noches Señora Usía, cancion canichanas; Folias, sonata; Jesu dulcissime, Litany; Natom tanel hancahatisi Don Lázaro, cancion canichanas; Nuasi hananem rama yeuco, cancion canichanas; Santa Maria Ainqui zoichacu (La Salve para Virgen), Litany; Señora Doña María, villancico; Juan DE ARAUJO (1646-1712): Missa a 5: Kyrie; Marcelino ICHO, Juan Josef NOSA, Francisco SEMO (c1790): Tiurisamu reco reri, arias and chorus; Domenico ZIPOLI (1688-1726): Beatus vir; Grave Tono 1

Paola Cuellar, Karina Troiano, Tatiana Mendoza, soprano; Angélica Monje, Abisag Chanez, Luciana Cueto, contralto; Luis Parrila, Esteban Manzano, tenor; Adrián Rodríguez van der Spoel, tenor, guitar, percussion; Mónica Waisman, Joanna Huszcza, violin; Silvia Jiménez, violone; Regina Albanez, theorbo, guitar; Gabriel Aguilera Valdebenito, guitar, percussion; Bárbara Cerón, harp; Jorge López Escribano, organ

The music of the 18th century in Latin America is enjoying increasing popularity among performers and music lovers. Over the last ten years or so a considerable number of recordings has been released with the repertoire which is preserved in various sources in the Latin American world. The Argentinian conductor Gabriel Garrido is one of the performers who has devoted much time and energy in exploring this repertoire. Another musician from Argentina, Adrián Rodríguez van der Spoel, is following in his footsteps with his ensemble Música Temprana. On this disc we hear music which has its origins in the Jesuit missions in Bolivia.

In his programme notes Van der Spoel explains the origins and the character of the music. He corrects the dubious image of the Jesuits and their role in the history of Latin America. The missionaries arrived in East-Bolivia at the end of the 17th century. Families which were living in scattered settlements were brought together in newly built villages called reducciones. Here lies the origin of the missionary posts of Chiquitos and Moxos. "The reducciones made the native communities less vulnerable to the continuous raids by the paulistas, slave hunters operating from the nearby Portuguese communities".

The isolation which was the consequence of this situation resulted in the reducciones being self-supporting. Leaving and entering the regions was restricted, and therefore social functions were carried out by the natives themselves. The Jesuits also made efforts to increase the standard of living of the natives. The growing status and power of the Order of the Jesuits resulted in Carlos III ordering them in 1767 to be banished from the Spanish territories.

In the reducciones a style in arts and architecture developed which is known as missionary baroque. What is astonishing is that this style in music continued to be practiced well into the 20th century. "Until 50 years ago musical instruments were built with the baroque techniques taught by the missionaries, and the ancient repertoire was sung during celebrations". The villages even are in the process of a baroque revival, with local musicians performing the ancient missionary repertoire.

This disc contains some specimens of the music from this heritage. When the Jesuits arrived they brough with them compositions by European composers, in particular from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Southern Germany and Bohemia. An example of the latter is Jan Josef Ignác Brentner, whereas the only composer of European origin on this disc is the Italian Domenico Zipoli. Other music was written by native composers, who translated the Latin texts into their own language. Most of these are anonymous. An example of such a piece is Ane Nupaquîma sucheteña which is a setting of the text of the 'Stabat mater' in Chiquitano. Ainqui zoichacu is a composition of parts of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.

The music on this disc shows some strong stylistic differences. The setting of Beatus vir by Domenico Zipoli is a typical Italian-style baroque piece in which soli and tutti sections alternate. The compositions by native composers are simpler, often using the technique of the faux-bourdon. An example is Ane Nupaquîma sucheteña, already mentioned, whose melody is strongly reminiscent of plainchant. Notable here is that the closing line - "what agony", "I can feel the pain" or "have mercy on me!" - is singled out as it is embraced by a short instrumental sinfonia.

Interesting is also Tiurisamu reco reri, which are, according to the booklet, "compositions by the Moxos Indians of the villages of San Xavier and Santisima Trinidad to celebrate August 25th to honour Our Lady, the Queen". These arias are written in a purely Italian baroque style. What many people associate with Latin-American traditional music comes to the fore in the last items on the programme, "musical compositions by the Canichana Indians of the village of San Pedro to pay tribute to their illustrious King and Queen". And here the percussion gets a very dominant role to play, as one may expect.

This disc gives a most interesting and revealing picture of the 18th-century music from Bolivia. Often such programmes contain music which is predominantly loud, strongly rhythmical and dance-like. But here we get another aspect of Latin-American baroque music. Most pieces are rather introverted, not unexpected considering the content of texts like the 'Stabat mater' or the Litany. In the same category belongs Iyaî Jesucristo which gave this disc its title: "My Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and my soul, which is lost by mortal sin".

The performances are nothing short of brilliant. It has a strong flavour of authenticity as most singers and players are from Latin America themselves and have a good feeling for the musical styles represented on this disc. The soloist, Xenia Meijer, is from the Netherlands, but has a wide experience in this repertoire and frequently works with Adrián Rodríguez van der Spoel and his ensemble. This is a disc which leaves you wanting for more.

The booklet contains programme notes and all lyrics with an English translation.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

Relevant links:

Música Temprana

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