- Audio CD (Oct 8 2002)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
- ASIN: B000068327
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
|1. Villancico: Canten dos jilguerillos (Francisco Escalada)|
|2. Kirie: [Missa Ego flos campi] (Juan Gutiirrez de Padilla)|
|3. Jacaras de la costa (Santiago de Murcia)|
|4. Xaacara: Los que fueren de buen gusto (Francisco de Vidales)|
|5. Gloria: [Missa Ego flos campi]|
|6. Corrente Italiana (Juan Cabanilles)|
|7. Xacara: A la xacara xacarilla (Juan Gutiirrez de Padilla)|
|8. Credo: [Missa Ego flos campi]|
|9. Cumbies (Santiago de Murcia)|
|10. Negrilla: A siolo flasiquiyo (Juan Gutiirrez de Padilla)|
|11. Sanctus [Missa Ego flos campi]|
|12. Marizapalos a lo humano: Marizapalos bajs una tarde (Anonymous: 17th-century Peru)|
|13. Marizapalos a lo divino: Serafin que con dulce harmonma (Joan Cererols)|
|14. Diferencias sobre marizapalos (Miguel Pirez de Zavala)|
|15. Agnus Dei [Missa Ego flos campi]|
|16. Guaracha: Convidando esta la noche (Juan Garcma de Zispedes)|
Mexico in the 1600s was a rich mixture of ethnic groups and cultures, and its music reflects this. The main influence is Spanish Renaissance polyphony (Spain at this time was in its musical golden age - the 'siglo d'oro'), but there is also help from Portuguese immigrants, Native Mexicans (Mayan), and Africans from the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Puerto Rico. As well, there is constant tension between the sacred and secular worlds.
The core of this recording is a 'parody mass' (that is, the polyphony has been reconstructed from previously written motets) by Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, a Spanish composer who emigrated to Mexico and became the choir director of the Cathedral in Puebla in 1629. This work is radiant and lighthearted and although more formal than the other music on this disc, is still heavily influenced by dance rhythms. Unlike in many mass settings, phrases such as 'bonae voluntatis', 'credo' and 'confiteor' are repeated as refrains. The accompaniment is also rather spare, relying primarily on guitars with occasional percussion. Each section of the mass is surrounded by popular songs and dances of the time which have lyrics based on religious themes, as was often done at the time to delight the worshipers - and assure their church attendance!
Two tenors sing of goldfinches singing softly to the infant sun in 'Canten los jilguerillos', the vilancico (popular dance) that begins the CD. We later hear examples of one of the most popular musical forms of this time - the xacara, a particular type of vilancico normally in D minor and sung in backstreet Madrid dialects. 'Jacaras de costa', which includes the aforementioned conch shell and rain stick, is an instrumental variation in a major key and has the same theme as the vocal 'Los de queren de bon gusto' which it leads into. Like 'A la xacara xacarilla', this xacara, with the singers egging each other on ('vaya, vaya!' or 'vaya pues!') to keep dancing and adding more verses, is as much about the pleasure of making music ('Look at my nice new xacara which I will sing in Bethlehem!') as it is about the religious symbolism expressed within.
Another common style was the Marizapalos, a romance which could have either a secular or sacred theme. 'Marizapalos a lo humano', a bawdy song about a priest's niece who goes to meet her lover, is full of sexual innuendo, but elevates physical love into something holy. In contrast 'Marizapalos a lo divino' speaks of the divine harmony of the seraphim and has a melody very reminiscent of the main theme from Joaquin Rodrigo's 'Fantasia alla gentilhombre' - I wouldn't be surprised if it was one of Rodrigo's sources! There is also a lovely instrumental variation ('Diferencias sobre marizapalos') on this theme.
Some of the most interesting music on this disc doesn't have obviously 'Hispanic' origins. The 'Corriente Italiano', a broad, elegant and courtly instrumental dance of Italian origin, is made Spanish by syncopation, and is my favorite track on the disc. From Africa come 'Cumbees', a call and response (variations on the word 'cumbe') puctuated by heavy drums, and the negrilla, 'A siolo flasiquiyo' depicts a group of African musicians who are celebrating the baby Jesus, but have to be careful to not play so loud that they wake Him! Some of the lyrics here are admittedly a bit too 'minstrel show' for 21st century audiences, but the music is still gorgeous, particularly the exuberant refrain 'Tumbucutu, cutu, cutu'.
The CD comes to a breathtaking finish with the guaracha 'Convidando esta noche', where the final, ecstatic 'Ay, ay, ay!' will linger long after it ends.
The thick booklet is illustrated with skeletons to recall the Mexican 'Day of the Dead' tradition, and contains full Latin and Spanish texts and English and French translations, as well as websites if you want other languages. Lawrence-King contributes an essay detailing the historical background and structure of the music and lyrics. There is also a CD insert that indicates which musicians are playing in which selections, although it is a pity they do not identify the actual INSTRUMENTS played, as each musician plays several.
'Missa Mexicana' is music-making of the highest integrity and not to be missed. In addition to adventurous classical music lovers, I would also recommend this disc to people coming from the 'other side', that is those who may not be particularly fond of classical music but who like more 'traditional' Mexican and Latin American sounds. Either way, this is one of the most original, imaginative, and fun discs I've heard in a long time, and it deserves to be a huge bestseller.
This is a European Harp Consort - it is not Mexican. At the least it could have included Mariachi music. It has no sense of time: 1588, 1820, 1917. It cannot tell the difference between Mayan and Toltec.
It is a very pleasant album to listen to, but it is NOT Mexican.