musica Dei donum

CD reviews

Francisco CORREA DE ARAUXO (1584 - 1654): Libro de Tientos

Bernard Foccroulle, organa, virginalsb
InAlto (Lambert Colson)c

rec: Oct 2019, Castaño del Robledo, Iglesia Santiago Apostol (CD 1); Marchena, Iglesia San Juan Bautista (CD 4); Sept 2020, Grimbergen, Abdij (CD 3); St-Truiden, Begijnhofkerkc; June 2021, Lerma, Colegiata de San Pedro (CD 2); Tordesillas, Iglesia Santa Maria CD 2)
Ricercar - RIC 435 (4 CDs) (© 2021) (4.39'28")
Liner-notes: E/F; no lyrics
Cover, track-list & booklet

[in order of appearance]
[CD 1: Flemish and Spanish influences] Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 22 de sexto tonoa; Tiento 39 de medio registro de tiple de quarto tonoa; Tiento 7 de setimo tonoa; Tiento 40 de medio registro de baxon de noveno tonoa; Tiento 47 de medio registro de tiple de octavo tonoa; Thomas CRECQUILLON (1505-1557): Par tous moyensc; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 5 de quinto tonoa; Tiento 19 de quarto tonob; Philippe Verdelot (1485-1552) Ultimi miei sospiric; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 35 de medio registro de baxon de primero tonoa; Tiento 36 de medio registro de tiple de decimo tonoa; Tiento 21 de sexto tonoa; Tiento 17 de quarto tonoa; Tiento 34 de medio registro de baxon de primero tonoa; Tiento 59 de medio registro de tiple de segundo tonoa
[CD 2: From Renaissance to Baroque] Thomas CRECQUILLON: Magna et mirabiliac; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: La cancion de Tomas Crequilion Gaybergiera; Tiento 53 de medio registro de dos tiples de segundo tonoa; Tiento 25 de tiple de septimo tonoa; Tiento 62 de primero tonoa; Nicolas GOMBERT (1495-1556): O Gloriosa Dei Genitrixc; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 18 de quarto tonoa; Tiento 44 de medio registro de tiple de sexto tonoa; Nicolas GOMBERT: Mon Seul à 7c; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 33 de baxon de septimoa; Tiento 6 de sexto tonoa; Tiento 31 de medio registro de baxon de septimo tonoa; Tiento 26 de medio registro de tiple de septimo tonoa; Tiento 56 de medio registro de dos baxones de quarto tonoa; Tiento 23 de sexto tono, sobre la Batalla de Moralesa
[CD 3: Sacred works] Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Canto Llano de la Inmaculada Concepcion de la Virgen MARIA Señora nuestrac; Tiento 54 de dos tiples de septimo tonoad; JOSQUIN DESPREZ (c1440/45-1521): Ave Maria a 5c; Alonso LOBO (1555-1617): Beata Dei Genitrixc; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 4 de quarto tono; Pierre de LA RUE (1460-1518): Missa Ave Maria (Sanctus)c; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tres glosas sobre el canto llano de la Immaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Señora nuestraa; Tiento 9 de noveno tonoac; Francisco ROGNONI (1570-1626): Susanna d'Orlando (Lassus)ae; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 51 de baxon de dezimo tono; Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599) / Juan DE URREDE (1430-1482) / Bricio GAUDI: Pange linguac; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 53 de dos tiples de segundo tonoad Prosa del santissimo sacramentoc
[CD 4: Chiaroscuro in Correa's work] Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento y Discurso 2 de segundo tonoa; Tiento 38 de tiple de quarto tonoa; Tiento 37 de medio registro de baxon de noveno tonoa; Tiento 16 de quarto tono, a modo de canciona; Jacobus CLEMENS NON PAPA (1510-1555): Cancionc; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 29 de medio registro de tiple de septimo tonoad; Tiento 15 de quarto tono; Tiento 14 de primero tonoc; Tiento 42 de tiple de doceno tonoad; Tiento 49 de baxon de duodecimo tono; Nicolas GOMBERT: Ayme qui voldrac; Francisco Correa DE ARAUXO: Tiento 60 de medio registro de baxon de segundo tono; Tiento 52 a cinco de primero tono

Alice Foccroulle, soprano; Vojtech Semerád, alto; Olivier Coiffet, Adriaan De Koster, Reinoud Van Mechelen, tenor; Guillaume Olry, bass
Lambert Colson, cornettd; Adrien Reboisson, shawm, bombard; Guy Hanssen, Susanna Defendi, Bart Vroomene, sackbut; Anaïs Ramage, Mélanie Flahaut, José Gomes, dulcian

Spanish organ music is seldom part of recitals by organists. That is largely due to the fact that such music requires instruments which are rare outside Spain. On organs built in a different tradition the repertoire does hardly come off. That is to say: that is the general opinion. However, things may be a bit different, if we have to believe Bernard Foccroulle, in the liner-notes to his complete recording of the oeuvre of Francisco Correa de Arauxo.

Before turning to these issues, let us first have a look at the biography of a composer, whose works are often included in recordings of Iberian organ music, but about whose life is not known that much. He was born in Seville, where he lived for most of his life. He was just fifteen when he was appointed organist of the collegiate church of S Salvador, but for many years he had a rival in the person of Juan Picafort. However, he was able to hold that position until 1636. He had applied for several posts elsewhere, but to no avail. In 1636 he moved to Jaén, where he took the post of organist at the Cathedral. In 1640 he moved to Segovia where he occupied the post of prebendary. There he also died.

Foccroulle notes that in his experience Correa de Arauxo is hardly known, even among lovers of organ music. He himself regularly played works by him, and as he uses to play very different instruments, one may wonder whether they are suitable for these pieces. And that brings us to the issue of the organs used for this recording. Foccroulle points out that in the course of the 17th century innovations in organ building, such as horizontal 'chamade' reeds and swell boxes containing echo cornets, resulted in the instruments that are mostly used for performances and recordings today. The composers of earlier times used to play instruments which stylistically have their roots in organ building in the Netherlands. "Given its polyphonic density, Correa's music calls for the transparent clarity that is a characteristic of Renaissance and early 17th-century instruments. What is more, the instruments that Correa played and heard in Seville were mainly Flemish organs: Cabezón had invited the Brebos family from Antwerp to build the four organs of the Escorial, after which organ builders from Flanders and Northern France had come to most of the major Spanish cities to build instruments that revolutionised the late medieval organ. The Antwerp organ builder Joos Swijsen, known as 'maese Jorge', built an organ for the cathedral of Seville in 1579, which he then revised to a great extent a few years later." This can hardly surprise as under Charles V and Philip II there was a close connection between Spain and the (southern) Netherlands. One of the most revered ensembles at the court was the so-called Capilla Flamenca.

As far as the instruments are concerned, one thing is essential. Spanish organs usually had just one manual and no pedal. In order to be able to distinguish between a solo part (or several solo parts) and accompaniment, the single manual was split into two halves, each with its own stops. The repertoire attests to that: many tientos have the addition de medio registro de tiple or de baxon. The former means that the solo part is in the treble and is to be played with the right hand, whereas pieces with the latter addition have the solo part in the bass, to be played by the left hand. Only in a very few cases Correa de Arauxo specifies the stops to be used. Nearly all the pieces from his pen bear the title tiento. The term is derived from the Spanish verb tentar (to try out, to attempt, to test). Tientos can be compared with free forms as fantasia, toccata or prelude. As one can see in the tracklist, they are written in the various church modes in use at the time. Foccroulle believes the modes have been chosen for expressive reasons: "The dominant characteristics of Correa's musical language for me are his search for expressivity, a decided taste for emphatic contrasts as well as chiaroscuro, and great rhythmic imagination together with dazzling bursts of virtuosity." His frequent use of dissonances are part of it. It is notable that at several moments Correa de Arauxo makes use of a sign - a small hand and a raised index finger - to indicate such dissonances which at the time may have raised criticism from the advocates of traditional rules with regard to counterpoint. It is not only in the department of harmony that Correa de Arauxo is his own man, he is also quite original in the field of rhythm.

One may wonder why this recording also includes music by other composers, and vocal music to boot. The entire output of Correa de Arauxo is included in Libro de tientos y discursos de música practica, y theorica de organo intitulado Facultad organica of 1626, short Facultad organica. In the preface the composer frequently refers to music that inspired him. Foccroulle: "As I read and reread the preface and the comments dotted throughout his Facultad Orgánica, I was struck by the number of references to composers of previous generations: not only the Iberian composers Antonio de Cabezón, Francisco Guerrero, Manoel Rodrigues Coelho, but also the Franco-Flemish composers Nicolas Gombert, Josquin Desprez, Pierre de la Rue Thomas Crécquillon and Roland de Lassus." The additional pieces document both the importance of vocal polyphony and the practice of instrumental ornamentation in Correa de Arauxo's output.

The four CDs are different with regard to the instruments used and the contribution of voices and instruments. On the first disc, Foccroulle plays two instruments. The first is the Flemish organ of Castaño del Robledo, the second a Flemish virginal, a so-called 'mother and child' muselaar, a copy of an instrument by Ioannes Ruckers of 1623. Flemish harpsichords were in use in Spain in Correa's time. The second disc brings us to the Collegiate Church of Lerma, which has two organs built in 1616 and 1617 respectively by Diego de Quijano, organ builder to the King and grandson of a Flemish organ builder. This church also owns two manuscripts with instrumental versions of works by Flemish and Spanish masters. Some of these are included here. The last pieces of disc 2 are played on an organ of a somewhat later date in the Santa Maria in Tordesillas. The third disc is devoted to liturgical music: the hymn Lauda Sion, in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Song of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Around them we hear a number of liturgical pieces by composers Correa mentions in his Facultad organica. The programme was recorded at the Abbey of Grimbergen in Belgium. The fourth disc was recorded on the latest organ in this project: the Chavarria organ of 1765 in the church of San Juan Bautista in Marchena (Andalusia).

The vocal and instrumental items are mostly performed without organ. However, there are also some pieces in which the organ is joined by a wind instrument, mostly Lambert Colson's cornett, but in one item a bass sackbut, played by Bart Vroomen. Foccroulle admits that it is not known whether Correa de Arauxo ever performed his tientos with instrumental assistance, "although he does mention several wind instruments, notably the cornett, the chirimia and the dulzaina; he also notes the exceptional virtuosity of the trombonist Gregorio de Lozoya." This combination is based on his experiences in performances with Colson.

Although Correa de Arauxo's keyboard music has been recorded complete before, there can be no doubt about the importance of this project. It is a result of years of experience in performance of these pieces and thorough study of the sources and performance practice in Correa's time. Foccroulle is a brilliant player who has a vast experience in early music and in playing all kinds of historic instruments. The choice of organs is often surprising and offers a new perspective on Correa's music. The decision to include vocal and instrumental music from Correa's world is another asset of this project. The singers and players all deliver excellent performances.

This is a monument for a composer who is not as well known as he should be. It deserves a special recommendation. This is a set no lover of organ music of the renaissance or early baroque period should miss.

Johan van Veen (© 2023)

Relevant links:

Bernard Foccroulle

CD Reviews