South of the Border

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Program: #21-04   Air Date: Jan 18, 2021

Baroque songs and dances from the Amazon, Italian influences in Mexico, and Christina Pluhar’s South American Project.

I. Chants et danses baroques de l’Amazonie (Ensamble Moxos/Raquel Maldonado). K 617 CD K617232.

For more information: https://www.jesuites.com/ensamble-moxos/

Chants et danses baroques de l’Amazonie

From the Jesuit web site:

Young musicians and artists from San Ignacio de Moxos, in the Bolivian Amazon provide an exceptional heritage and a breathtaking history. Brief step back in time: in 1549, barely nine years after the founding of the Company, the Jesuits were sent to the New World. From 1609, they founded “Reductions” in the Jesuit Province of Paraguay, a sort of village where the Indians, recently recognized as subjects of law and free men but under supervision, were gathered, “civilized” and evangelized. Life is organized in all its dimensions: religious, educational, professional, social, but also political and cultural. Very quickly, the missionaries noticed a particular disposition of the natives for music and song. From 1616, Jesuit musicians were sent to the Province of Uruguay: Jean Vaisseau, born in Tournai (1583-1623), but above all Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726), a rising star in the musical firmament of Rome, like Vivaldi was to Venice.  Sent to Cordoba, he composed a large number of works of sacred music, which were performed in the Reductions. Following him, the Jesuit composer Martin Schmid (1694-1772) developed a musical activity that radiated through the regions of Chiquitos and Moxos (present-day Bolivia). Thanks to him, these territories became in the 18th century a high place of the missionary musical baroque. The conflicts between Spain and Portugal and jealousy over the success of the Reductions' economic model sound the death knell for these missions. In 1768, the Jesuits were expelled, while the Company was banned on the Old Continent. There are then 30 Reductions, where about 150,000 Indians live. With the human tragedy comes a cultural loss, and for a long time it was believed that this invaluable musical heritage was lost. From Fanfare: The Beni province of Bolivia, on the border with Brazil, is home to the Moxos people. The Moxeño community that grew around the Jesuit mission of San Ignacio, founded in 1689, has never stopped performing the music brought there by  the original missionaries. Groups of indigenous musicians playing stringed instruments built by indigenous builders have kept this repertoire in continual use, faithfully recopying manuscripts as well as passing music down through the oral tradition. The School of Music of San Ignacio and its director, Raquel Maldonado, have recorded three programs of this repertoire, and selections from all three are collected on this disc. Like the blending of native and European influences explored in the music of the Moxos archive, this recording is an intriguing mix of folk and art performance that doesn’t quite fit comfortably in either category.

The orchestra and choir, made up of students aged 16 to 26 as well as the school’s children’s choir, perform on modern orchestral instruments and indigenous bajones— large panpipe-like instruments made from palm leaves that have a sound similar to a Baroque bassoon. The students play well and with plenty of spirit; a few moments of less-than-ideal intonation can be forgiven. The sweet voice of soprano Celsa Callaú is featured in the lovely anonymous aria Tata guasu , sung in the Guaraní language and accompanied by Alcides Lamaica’s tasteful and restrained harpsichord playing. Unfortunately, Callaú’s voice lacks the flexibility and dexterity to tackle the demanding passagework of Domenico Zipoli’s Beatus Vir.

Zipoli, a native of Tuscany, studied with both the Alpha and Omega of Neapolitan Baroque composers, Bernardo Pasquini and Alessandro Scarlatti. He became a Jesuit and worked in Cordobà until his untimely death. His music was immensely popular, and it found its way around the Jesuit world. I highly recommend James David Christie and the Abendmusik Ensemble’s recording of Zipoli’s sacred drama San Ignacio de Loyola (Dorian) as an introduction to this underappreciated composer. There is also a number of good recordings of his keyboard music, which he published before he left for South America. It is fine music and worth exploring.

The difficulty too many musicians have with performing Neapolitan (or Venetian) High Baroque music is that so many of the faster movements use tone painting, the sheer unfettered joy of horsehair on gut strings, as their primary musical medium. Think of Enrico Ononfri and Il Giardino Armonico’s 1994 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Many performers outside of the early-music revival turn these movements into an endless numbing morass of 16th notes, using too much bow and losing sight of the forest for the sake of the trees. The strings of Ensamble [sic] Moxos are to be commended for exploring the tonal palette available when vibrato is not the only means of expression, but they must go further if they really want to persuade the listener that this repertoire deserves more exposure than it is currently receiving.

This recording was made in an auditorium at the School of Music of San Ignacio. The sound is very close and direct, picking up on the choir’s uneven intonation and poor blending, particularly in the tenor section. The recorders are a bit too present in the mix, casting a spotlight on intonation issues as well.

The most convincing and memorable tracks on this album are the anonymous dance pieces Nuasi hananem rama and El verso , bursting with infectious rhythms, the children’s voices, indigenous instruments and harmonies opening a truly unique window into the living heritage of the Bolivian baroque. 

ZIPOLI 

Missa San Ignacio. 

LOCATELLI

Sonata No. 10. 

ANONYMOUS:

Nuasi hananem rama. 

Tata guasu. 

Exaltate Regem regum. 

Betu pico. 

Sonatas: No. 9; No. 18. 

Señora Doña María. 

El verso.

Dulce Jesús mio 

 

II. Hombres de Maiz (Ensemble Lucidarium).  K 617 CD K617228.

HOMBRES DE MAIZ: Italian Soul in Mexican Music • Gloria Moretti (sop); Barbara Ceron (sop, Veracruz hp); Avery Gosfield (rcr); Francis Biggi (lt); Lucidarium Ensemble

Although Hombres de Maiz is a term that Latin American peasants have used to describe themselves since time immemorial, it could just as well be applied to the polenta-eating young men who came to Mexico from Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries.  The sailors, peasants and friars who sailed the seas in search of fortune brought their dances, ostinati and songs with them.  The familiar sounds probably helped to lift their spirits and keep homesickness at bay.  It was the pop music of the era, and they played it on anything they could carry: harps, guitars, recorders, violins, drums, pipe and tabor.  These sprightly tunes and simple harmonic patterns, as well as the European instruments, were quickly adopted by the native population, blending with the local styles and repertoires.  Incredibly, even today, traditional repertoires from Mexico and Italy are often remarkably alike, and many have kept tunes, harmonic structures and names that date back to the Italian Renaissance.  Here, Ensemble Lucidarium combines traditional Italian songs and dances with their 16th and 17th century models – Bergamasca, Ciascona, Mattacin – while Barbara Ceron Olvera, a bright new star on the early music scene, goes back to her roots, performing the powerful and touching music of her native Veracruz in a joyful musical melting-pot that preserves ancient sonorities while remaining surprisingly close to modern sensibility.

From Fanfare: The Lucidarium Ensemble’s latest CD, Hombres de Maiz (People of the Corn), explores the crosscurrents in popular music—the music of the poor—from Mexico and southern Italy, two parts of the world linked by the political, religious, and cultural influence of Spain and the mission work of the Jesuits. 

The Italian duets, selected from 17-th century Venetian carnival music by Francesco Ratis, are true gems, sung by Gloria Moretti and the young French soprano Marie Pierre Duceau. Their voices weave in affectionate harmony over infectious dance rhythms, supported by treble instruments and plucked strings in just the right balance. They blend impeccably, reminding me of the late Monserrat Figueras singing with her daughter, Arianna Savall. Barbara Ceron’s nasal and yet throaty renditions of Mexican traditional music are powerful and heartfelt. She accompanies herself on the Veracruz harp, its bright clarity a perfect match for her voice. The three ladies join to sing the Campanian traditional song Cicerinella, with Duceau and Ceron joining Moretti for the choruses. Simply marvelous. My only regret is not hearing more from Bettina Ruchti. Her Baroque violin shone briefly in a feisty anonymous variation set on the Ruggiero bass, and I am left wanting more. Marco Ferrari’s clarinet playing is smoky and lyrical, and blends beautifully with rich tapestry of the accompanying instruments.

The sound is clear, close, and honest, and contributes to the illusion of a live concert performance. This album is meticulously researched, well conceived, and expertly presented. The liner notes by Francis Biggi lay out the concept behind the program in just enough detail. It achieves what, in my opinion, too many recordings of Medieval and Renaissance music do not, presenting an engaging and thoughtful concept in an elegant and entertaining way. Lucidarium captures the vibe of a concert on this disc. It is not an aural catalog of ancient and obscure repertoire, but a living, dancing presence. This disc is one of the few that I’ve heard recently that makes me want to jump up and dance—and hear this ensemble live in concert as soon as possible. Kudos.  

1.

La Tarasca

4:37

 

2.

Bergamasca Giovanni Battista Vitali

1:56

 

3.

Bergamasca Gasparo Zanetti

2:16

 

4.

Bergamasco

1:46

 

5.

Dialogo Fra Il Garofolo E La Rosa

2:11

 

6.

Maledizioni

0:49

 

7.

Ballettu-Tarentella

1:53

 

8.

Napolitana: Se Dio Iltutto Fece Di Niente

3:01

 

9.

Son De Fiesta

1:22

 

10.

Falo Alegro

1:59

 

11.

Heragua Loquo-Jarabe Loco: Coplas A La Muerte

4:30

 

12.

Matacino

1:26

 

13.

Matachin: La Guadalupana

1:59

 

14.

Matuzinàa

5:19

 

15.

Matlachines

1:16

 

16.

Cicerenella

3:53

 

17.

El Guapo

1:38

 

18.

O Belle Donne Se Volete

1:59

 

19.

Rugiero

1:00

 

20.

Ruggero

1:17

 

21.

Tammuriata "Bella Figliola"

3:41

 

22.

Viborita

3:26

 

23.

Co' Queste Trezze

3:26

 

24.

Gelosia

1:50

 

25.

Mascherata Di Coviello Da Cantarsi Sull'aria Dello Spagnoletto

1:53

 

26.

Spagnoletto

1:33

 

27.

E Fa La Nanna

2:26

 

III. Los Pájaros Perdidos (L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar). Virgin Classics/Erato CD 0709502.

Christina Pluhar : Los Pájaros Perdidos

A thrilling and arresting fusion of musical styles and techniques is a trademark of L’Arpeggiata, the multi-faceted instrumental and vocal ensemble led by Christina Pluhar. This new collection – which takes its name, ‘Los Pájaros perdidos’ (‘the lost birds’), from a piece by the King of Tango, Ástor Piazzolla – brings a heady Latin American mix. Echoes from the pre-Columbian era, African rhythms and the styles and structures of the European Baroque all enrich this survey of music from the 17th century to the present day, with a geographical spread that covers Spain, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela.

In a characteristically thrilling fusion of musical styles, L’Arpeggiata, the prizewinning ensemble led by harpist Christina Pluhar, presents a programme of Spanish and Latin American music that ranges from the 17th century to the present day. Guest vocalists include French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sings the lyrical title tango, ‘Lost Birds’ by Ástor Piazzolla.

A thrilling and arresting fusion of musical styles and techniques is a trademark of L’Arpeggiata, the multi-faceted instrumental and vocal ensemble led by Christina Pluhar. This new collection – which takes its name, ‘Los Pájaros perdidos’ (‘the lost birds’), from a piece by the King of Tango, Ástor Piazzolla – brings a heady Latin American mix. Echoes from the pre-Columbian era, African rhythms and the styles and structures of the European Baroque all enrich this survey of music from the 17th century to the present day, with a geographical spread that covers Spain, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela.

The ensemble offers an array of exotic stringed instruments: the arpa llanera (a harp with a distinctive tinkling, airy sound); cuatro (a form of small, four-stringed guitar); bandolin (a kind of 15-stringed mandolin); jarana (an eight-stringed guitar); requinto (a high-pitched guitar), and charango (a small Andean guitar originally constructed from an armadillo shell). They are complemented by percussion, trumpet and clarinet, while the vocal parts are taken by French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and Italian vocalist Lucilla Galeazzi (who both featured on L’Arpeggiata’s 2010 Mediterranean-themed album Via Crucis), the mezzo soprano Luciana Mancini (heard on L’Arpeggiata’s recording of the Monteverdi Vespers, receipient of Germany’s prestigious Echo award in 2011), the Spanish soprano Raquel Andueza and the Neapolitan-trained ballet dancer-turned-singer Vincenzo Capezzuto, who brings his haunting alto tones to several numbers. There are virtuosic guest instrumentalists too: Raul Orellana, on the charango, the Paraguayan harpist Lincoln Almada, and the Argentinian guitarist Quito Gato.

The title track is a lyrical tango, with a klezmer-like clarinet curling round Jaroussky’s vocal line, while the many other striking number include: the lively Pájarillo Verde from Venezuela, which will please fans of the Buena Vista Social Club; the melancholy Alfonsina y el Mar, sung by Lucilla Galeazzi; the haunting La embarazada del viento, with a powerful performance from Luciana Mancini; the sensual, purely instrumental Caballo Viejo and a version of the well-known bolero Besame mucho, with soprano Raquel Andueza, that is reminiscent of some of Peggy Lee’s sexier recordings.

1.

Duerme Negrito

Traditional - Philippe Jaroussky, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Doron David Sherwin, Margit Übellacker, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, Haru Kitamika, David Mayoral & Quito Gato

2:54

2.

Alfonsina y el Mar (Zamba)

Ariel Ramírez - Christina Pluhar, Lucilla Galeazzi, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Carmen Gaggl

4:57

3.

Montilla (Golpe)

Anonymous - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Vincenzo Capezzuto, Doron David Sherwin, Luciana Mancini, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Mario Hurtado Rodriguez

3:16

4.

Pájaro Campana (Polca)

Anonymous - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Lincoln Almada

3:32

5.

Los Pájaros Perdidos (Canción)

Astor Piazzolla - Philippe Jaroussky, Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Eero Palviainen, Doron David Sherwin, Margit Übellacker, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, Haru Kitamika, David Mayoral & Lincoln Almada

3:46

6.

Pájarillo Verde (Pájarillo)

Anonymous - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Doron David Sherwin, Luciana Mancini, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato, Carmen Gaggl, Mario Hurtado Rodriguez & Lincoln Almada

2:32

7.

Isla Sacá (Polca)

Anonymous - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Lincoln Almada

3:52

8.

La Embarazada del Viento (Gaita Margariteña)

Constantino Ramones - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Luciana Mancini, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Mario Hurtado Rodriguez

2:51

9.

Zamba para No Morir (Zamba)

Hamlet Lima Quintana - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Vincenzo Capezzuto, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Carmen Gaggl

3:54

10.

Ay! Este Azul

Pancho Cabral - Philippe Jaroussky, Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Eero Palviainen, Marcello Vitale, Vincenzo Capezzuto, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Carmen Gaggl

3:03

11.

El Curruchá

 

Juan Bautista Plaza - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Eero Palviainen, Marcello Vitale, Vincenzo Capezzuto, Doron David Sherwin, Luciana Mancini, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato, Carmen Gaggl, Mario Hurtado Rodriguez & Lincoln Almada

2:38

12.

Caballo Viejo (Pasaje) - Alma Llanera [Joropo]

Anonymous - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato & Lincoln Almada

4:58

13.

La Cocoroba (Joropo Oriental)

Luis Mariano Rivera - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Vincenzo Capezzuto, Doron David Sherwin, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral, Quito Gato, Carmen Gaggl, Mario Hurtado Rodriguez & Lincoln Almada

2:25

14.

Zamba del Chaguanco (Zamba)

Hilda Herrera - Philippe Jaroussky, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Eero Palviainen, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Carmen Gaggl

3:57

15.

Como On Pájaro Libre

Adela Gleijer - Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Vincenzo Capezzuto, Doron David Sherwin, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Carmen Gaggl

3:33

16.

Como la Cigarra

Maria Elena Walsh - Philippe Jaroussky, Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Eero Palviainen, Raquel Andueza, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Carmen Gaggl

3:37

17.

Ojito de Agua

Otarolo Dominguez - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata & David Mayoral

2:50

18.

Polo Margariteño (Polo)

Anonymous - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Doron David Sherwin, Luciana Mancini, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Quito Gato

3:58

19.

Fandango

Antonio Soler - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Marcello Vitale, Doron David Sherwin, Margit Übellacker, Sarah Ridy, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Quito Gato

9:09

20.

Bésame Mucho (Bolero)

Consuelo Velazquez - Raúl Orellana, Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata, Raquel Andueza, Boris Schmidt, David Mayoral & Jesús Fernández Baena

 

Composer Info

Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726), LOCATELLI, Ariel Ramírez, Astor Piazzolla, Constantino Ramones, Hamlet Lima Quintana, Juan Bautista Plaza, Luis Mariano Rivera, Hilda Herrera, Adela Gleijer, Maria Elena Walsh, Otarolo Dominguez, Antonio Soler, Consuelo Velazque

CD Info

CD K617232, CD K617228, Virgin Classics/Erato CD 0709502