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Música para Vihuela III. Alonso Mudarra: Tres Libros De Música En Cifras Para Vihuela

Recorded in November 1991.

About these works:
The “Vihuela de mano” is a somewhat mysterious instrument. It evolved in Spain alongside the lute which it replaced at the begining of the 16th century and from which it differed in its guitar-like flat back and waisted shape. Alonso de Mudarra was a sixteenth century Spanish composer and vihuelist known for his songs and his numerous innovations in the field of instrumental music. He lived in relative luxury throughout his life. His upbringing and education were in the ducal household in Guadalajara. Duke Iñigo López de Mendoza (1493-1566), a highly cultured man and fine lutenist, may have been a mentor to the young de Mudarra, influencing him toward study of the vihuela. De Mudarra was eventually considered one of the best vihuelaplayers in Seville. With de Mendoza, he’s believed to have traveled to Italy in 1529 in the retinue of Charles V. Soon after his return, he was ordained a priest, and then took a canonry at the Seville Cathedral on the October 18, 1546. Aside from creating his considerable output of music, for the rest of his life de Mudarra played an important role in the affairs of the cathedral. He did such things as deal with the composers commissioned to produce music for feast-days, hired performers, and negotiated the purchase and installation of a new organ. Later he was in charge of all the cathedral’s monetary disbursements. As a sign of the kind of man de Mudarra might have been, despite his social privilege his will stated that upon his death (which came in 1580) all of his possessions were to be sold and the money given to the poor. de Mudarra’s major publication was Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela (Three Books of Music in Tablature for Vihuela, 1546). The range of genres and styles suggest that it’s a comprehensive sample of what he’d composed up to that point in his life. It contains 77 works and introduces numerous innovations. There are intabulations of motets and mass sections by Flemish composers, the earliest known pieces for modern guitar, a piece for harp or organ notated in a 14-line tablature system of de Mudarra’s invention, and suites of pieces grouped by mode. His preferred instrumental genre was the fantasia, of which Tres libros contains 27 true examples, while many of the other works draw on fantasia techniques. But above all it’s for his exquisite songs for vihuela and voice that de Mudarra is remembered. Subtle and economical of means, they’re rightly considered the finest Spanish songs of his century.
The sixteenth century Spanish courts supported a thriving tradition of composer-performers on a number of musical instruments: vihuela, organ, and harp. By the time Alonso de Mudarra, canon of the Cathedral of Seville, published his Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela (Three books of music in tablature for the vihuela, 1546), the tradition was already well underway. Other early volumes include those of Luis de Milán (Valencia, 1536), Luis de Narváez (Valladolid, 1538), Enríquez de Valderrábano (Valladolid, 1547), Diego Pisador (Salamanca, 1552), and Miguel de Fuenllana (Seville, 1553). Each volume offered to the players’ market a large compilation of solos, dance tunes, improvisations, and songs, and advertised both the musician and his patron. Mudarra thus took pains to introduce into the 77 pieces contained in his Tres libros de musica certain innovations: the first music ever published for guitar, some bolder chromaticism alongside more traditional fantasias and variations, and a new system for organ or harp tablature. At the same time, he demonstrated his mastery of all known vihuela genres in more traditional compositions, such as this pavan and galliard pair. While this pavan and galliard share the same mode and some melodic similarities, they are not necessarily unique in doing so (though Mudarra did experiment with suites for vihuela among the other pieces in the publication). Rather, they represent a more traditional pairing of courtly dances, for which numerous Spanish composers wrote music (and from which the Elizabethan English learned the fashion). Consonant with his tradition, Mudarra even suggests a noble dedicatee for the pair: the unidentified “Alexander” of the pavan’s subtitle. Also completely within the tradition, the opening pavan strides forth in a stately duple meter; this was the court’s entry dance, a processional that might need strong accents and repeated sections. Yet though Mudarra includes the strong duple accents, he imposes over them an equally strong pattern of three measures per harmony, with eight such groups. The second dance expected is the galliard, a more lively triple-meter dance. Mudarra complies, and his galliard shares mode and overall harmonic character, clear-cut phrase structure, and even some melodic motives and textural alternations (fast ornamentation and thick chords). Cleverly, the composer also returns to the rhythmic complexity of the pavan: the galliard contains larger cross-rhythms that preserve the hints of ambiguity between duple and triple meter.

The Performer:
Hopkinson Smith: vihuela de mano (Joël van Lemp, Boston)

Track List:
01. Pavana de Alexandre, Gallarda (3:44)
02. Primer Tono (7:24)
03. Fantasía fácil (2:11)
04. Segundo Tono (1:52)
05. Una Pavana (3:15)
06. Fantasía para desenbolver las manos (1:23)
07. Tercero Tono (5:21)
08. Fantasía (2:59)
09. Fantasía de pasos largos para desenbolver las manos (1:21)
10. Quarto Tono (2:17)
11. Conde Claros en doze maneras (1:58)
12. Tiento del Quinto Tono (0:49)
13. Fantasía de pasos para desenbolver las manos (1:13)
14. Fantasía fácil (2:24)
15. Sexto Tono (3:43)
16. Romanesca o Guárdame las vacas (2:58)
17. Séptimo Tono (3:35)
18. Fantasía fácil (1:58)
19. Octavo Tono (2:49)
20. Fantasía que contrahaze la harpa en la manera de Ludovico (1:56)
21. Una Pavana (2:11)
22. Fantasía del quarto tono (2:47)
23. Romanesca o Guárdame las vacas (1:47)
24. Fantasía del primer tono (1:28)
25. Fantasía del quinto tono (1:42)

Stereo, DDD. mp3 (320 kbps), 159.11 Mb, 65:05 minutes. Full info & covers included.