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JOSÉ MARÍN Tonos Humanos
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Reference: AVSA9802

  • Montserrat Figueras

In the Iberian peninsula during the seventeenth century, a wide variety of dances were set to words and song, while at the same time many ballads and carols were also danced. Our outstanding literary and dramatic authors, from Juan del Enzina to Calderón de la Barca, including Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega, have left us in their curtainraisers, interludes, comedies and dances a wonderful repertoire “rich in carols, folk songs, seguidillas and sarabandas”, which beckon one to dance “hasta molerse el alma” (until one is fit to drop – La Entretenida) and“cantaba con tal donaire” (“were so charmingly sung” – La Gitanilla) “que suspendían los sentidos y los ánimos de cuantos los escuchaban” (that they bewitched the soul and the senses of all who listened to them – Persiles y Segismunda). That extraordinary genius Miguel de Cervantes tells us in “La Gitanilla” that his gypsy heroine Preciosa, danced and sang to the sound of the tabor and the castanets because she was performing “por ser la danza cantada” (a song and dance) and that she accompanied herself “unas sonajas, al son de las cuales dando en redondo largas y ligerisimas vueltas cantó el romance” (on a rattle, singing her ballad as she lightly danced in wide, whirling circles”.

Description

In the Iberian peninsula during the seventeenth century, a wide variety of dances were set to words and song, while at the same time many ballads and carols were also danced. Our outstanding literary and dramatic authors, from Juan del Enzina to Calderón de la Barca, including Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega, have left us in their curtainraisers, interludes, comedies and dances a wonderful repertoire “rich in carols, folk songs, seguidillas and sarabandas”, which beckon one to dance “hasta molerse el alma” (until one is fit to drop – La Entretenida) and“cantaba con tal donaire” (“were so charmingly sung” – La Gitanilla) “que suspendían los sentidos y los ánimos de cuantos los escuchaban” (that they bewitched the soul and the senses of all who listened to them – Persiles y Segismunda). That extraordinary genius Miguel de Cervantes tells us in “La Gitanilla” that his gypsy heroine Preciosa, danced and sang to the sound of the tabor and the castanets because she was performing “por ser la danza cantada” (a song and dance) and that she accompanied herself “unas sonajas, al son de las cuales dando en redondo largas y ligerisimas vueltas cantó el romance” (on a rattle, singing her ballad as she lightly danced in wide, whirling circles”.

The peculiar social and historical circumstances of that period led to a great diversity of influences, from the most popular to the most courtly, which were reflected in everyday musical practice. Hence the very different styles, characteristics and ways of singing of which we have ample evidence. Cervantes himself describes how Feliciana de la Voz “soltó la voz a los vientos y cantó” (filled the air with her voice and sang), so beautifully “que suspendió los sentidos” (that she stayed the senses – Persiles y Segismunda), and how Escalante sang seguidillas “con voz sutil y quebradiza” (in a subtle, fragile voice – Rinconete y Cortadillo). Similarly, Lope de Vega in “El Viaje del Alma” gives the following advice “tañe, canta, come y bebe, salta y corre, danza y baila” (strum, sing, eat and drink, skip and run, jig and dance), while in one of his Comedies Lucas Fernández says “Aballemos, que cantando nos iremos. ¿Que cantar quieres cantar? Uno que sea de bailar” (Off we go and as we go, let’s sing. What song shall we sing? One that we can dance). And, finally, to return to Cervantes, in “Don Quixote”, Altisidora says: “no quería que mi canto descubriese mi corazón” (I did not wish my song to betray my heart), while in “La Entretida” he praises “la barbera que canta por el cielo y baila por la tierra” (the barber’s wife who sings to the heavens and dances on the ground).

The poetic and musical energy of previous centuries lived on at all levels, even the most popular, as it is clear from literary accounts that the singer of the seventeenth century were well acquainted with the ancient villancicos and romanzas (folk songs and ballads) (the Gaiferos y Melisanda, Durandarte, Conde Claros, Dos Ánades, Madre la mi Madre, Tres Morillas etc.) and were skilled in the singing techniques of improvisation and ornamentation (used throughout the sixteenth century in the repertoire for voice and vihuela:: Milán, Narváez, Mudarra, among others). All of which contributed to the development and consolidation of a genuine musical heritage of extraordinary vitality and beauty.

Most of the Tonos Humanos by José Marín which have been selected for this recording were composed for popular dances such as Passacalles, Canarios, Españoletas, Jácaras, Paradetas and Zarabandas. In all of them, Marín succeeds in inspiring his songs with the suggestiveness of the poetic text without sacrificing the vitality of the dance. The spontaneous improvised glosses and elegant variations by the voice as well as by the plucked strings of the guitar and the harp, and the delicate percussion of the tabor and the castanets, bring us closer to an exceptional moment in the history of Iberian music, when the spirit of tradition mingled and combined with the new and highly original influences born of a multi-ethnic culture which was ever attentive to the spiritual pulse of its diverse peoples.

MONTSERRAT FIGUERAS
Bellaterra, January 1998

Translated by Jacqueline Minett