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CD booklet
Las Ciudades de Oro

American Record Guide
June 29, 2016

From the bounty of music preserved in the archives of Puebla, Antigua, Bogota, Lima, and the like, Corriveau and Milnes have culled a wonderful program of vocal and instrumental music by Spanish and indigenous South American composers active in the 16th and 17th centuries.

‘Fuera, Fuera, Haganles Lugar’, by Roque Jacinto de Chavarria (1688–1719), about Indians on the way to Bethlehem, sets the tone for the recording with its dance-like rhythms and jubilant nonsense refrains “Ha ha ha hay”, and “Achalay, achalay”. ‘Ay Andar, Andar a Tocar, a Cantar, a Baylar’ also strikes a joyful tone, as the title itself suggests, ‘Go Now! Play, Sing, and Dance’ to celebrate the resurrection. With its references to Spain and Portugal, and an accompaniment that includes castanets and guitar, the villancico evokes the colors of Juan de Araujo’s (1646–1712) Iberian homeland. Araujo came to Lima at a young age and ended up composing polyphonic music for the cathedral in La Plata (Sucre). ‘Convidando Esta la Noche’, by the Mexican composer Juan Garcia de Zespedes (1619–78), is also a villancico; but, according to Daniel Zuluaga, its integration of the Afro-Cuban dance rhythm known as a guajira evokes music of the New World.

Perhaps the most famous piece on the program is ‘Hanacpachap Cussicuinin’ (1631), because it is considered to be the earliest known polyphonic work composed in the New World. It appears at the end of the Ritual, Formulario e Institucion de Curas by the Franciscan friar Juan Perez Bocanegra, but it is uncertain whether he actually composed the piece. Bocanegra was a linguist, and so having composed the Marian lyric in Quechua should be considered a special achievement.

Works like ‘A del Dia, a de la Fiesta’, by the Peruvian composer José de Orejon y Aparicio (1705–65), fit more in the tradition of the Baroque cantata, as do ‘Ventezillo Traviesso’, by Manuel Blasco (1628–96), chapel master at the cathedral in Bogota, and ‘Jesus, Jesus, y lo que Subes’, by Manuel José de Quiros, chapel master at cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala, with their emphasis on solo voice with continuo.

This must be one of the best recordings I have reviewed in recent months. The performances are so energetic and virtuosic that it will take your breath away. Texts and notes are in English.

© Peter Loewen - American Record Guide

Le Bel Âge
March 1, 2016

Lorsque les conquérants espagnols découvrirent l’Amérique du Sud, la rumeur se répandit à Madrid que les rues des villes incas étaient recouvertes d’or. Les souverains d’Espagne ordonnèrent alors le pillage systématique des ressources de ce continent, quitte à en assassiner les autochtones. Les religieux qui accompagnaient les conquistadores achevèrent le génocide culturel. Signature plus positive: les cantiques, dont plusieurs, sublimes, se sont rendus jusqu’à nous. Une douzaine sont réunis sur l’album Las Ciudades de oro (Les Cités en or) du groupe musical L’Harmonie des saisons. Composés aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, ces chants intègrent les rythmes sud-américains de l’époque et sont chantés en espagnol ou en quechua, la langue de l’empire inca. Cette musique enjouée et festive, interprétée ici par des musiciens de haut niveau, faisait l’orgueil des bâtisseurs de cathédrales d’Amérique du Sud. Clavecin, flûtes à bec, guitares et instruments de percussions célèbrent la gloire du nouveau dieu chrétien importé d’Europe. Cet album est une joie pour les oreilles et pour le coeur. La traduction française des paroles est incluse dans le livret. Las Ciudades de oro, sur ATMA Classique.

Paul Toutant - Le Bel Âge

The WholeNote
January 27, 2016

The importance of Spanish music of the 17th and 18th century has long been recognized, but it is only in recent years that we have been introduced to the riches that have been preserved in Latin American archives, in Colombia and Peru, in Chile and Guatemala, in Bolivia and Mexico. It is clear from the music on this recording that there were rich polyphonic traditions in Peru (in the San Antonio Abad Seminary in Cuzco, at the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Candelaria in Copacabana and in the Cathedral at Lima) and in Bolivia (in the Cathedral of La Plata, now Sucre). Some of the composers featured were Spaniards whose careers developed in the New World, others were born in Latin America and one (Alonzo Torices) never left Spain, although some of his works have been preserved in the Guatemala City Cathedral archives. Most of the texted works on this recording are in Spanish but one is in Latin and one in Quechua, the official language of the Inca Empire. The recording is carefully planned: the musical language shows a great deal of variety and the documentation is excellent. The rhythms are incisive and the standards of playing and singing are high. I particularly enjoyed the two duets sung by the sopranos Hélène Brunet and Elaine Lachica.

Hans de Groot - The WholeNote

Medium large
November 20, 2015

Listen to Frédéric Lambert on Medium large about our new release 'Las ciudades de oro' with L'harmonie des saisons. To listen clik HERE