This is the third volume in the series “Músicas Reales” (Royal music), which takes us to the heart of the Spanish royal courts through the centuries. Following the double CD devoted to Alfonso V “the Magnanimous” (1396-1458) and the superb “life in musical scenes” of Charles V (1500-1558), Jordi Savall now presents a programme devoted to Isabella I, Queen of Castile, also known as Isabella the Catholic.
La Capella Reial de Catalunya,
Musiques Royales, volume 3
Luces y Sombras en el tiempo de Isabel la Católica, la primera gran Reina del Renacimiento
1482 Los Castellanos ocupan Alhama
1497 Muerte del Principe Don Juan
La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Dirección Jordi Savall
At the time of Isabella’s birth in 1451, the Iberian Peninsula was divided into three separate kingdoms: Aragon, Castile and Portugal. Daughter of John II of Castile, in 1469 Isabella married Prince Ferdinand, the heir to the Crown of Aragon. When her brother died in 1474, Isabella became queen of Castile. In 1497, her husband acceded to the crown of Aragon as Ferdinand II, and from that moment on, the two monarchs became the architects of the unification of Spain, introducing profound reforms of the institution of the monarchy and laying the foundations of what was to become the great and mighty Spanish empire of the 16th century. However, the “Catholic Monarchs”, as they were called, were also the architects of the Inquisition and were responsible for the expulsion of the unconverted Jews and Moslems. Another major event of the reign of Isabella the Catholic, one which was to determine the course of history for centuries to come, was Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas in 1492. Isabella died in 1504, in Medina del Campo; she was succeeded by her daughter Joanna until 1516, the year of Charles V’s accession to the throne.
Most of the pieces on this album were composed directly in relation to some historic event in the life of the queen; the remainder derive from local sources and illustrate various aspects of musical culture on the Iberian Peninsula. As we know today, songs and music in general were used during the period as a means of communication, as instruments in the dissemination of a political vision. The Courts of the two sovereigns -each had retained their own private royal chapels- were cosmopolitan cultural centres, engaging the services of the finest musicians and performing the best repertories available. Musically speaking, Europe at the beginning of the Renaissance period was dominated by the Franco-Flemish sacred polyphony of composers such as Dufay and Ockeghem, a trend which was closely followed on the Iberian Peninsula, as can be seen from the works of Juan Cornago and Pedro de Escobar. At the same time, non-religious Iberian polyphony was represented chiefly by two distinct genres, whose roots stretched back into medieval tradition but were also nourished by Franco-Flemish models: the villancico (carol) and the romance (ballad), notably conserved in the Palacio, Colombina and Montecassino Cancioneros, or songbooks. The programme also includes pieces of instrumental and dance music current in Spain during the period.