What does the title of this CD mean to you?
I immediately turned to a recording on Teldec entitled 'Mexican
Baroque' thinking that this might also be South American music
of the 17th and I8th Centuries. But no, this CD comprises
Baroque music played by Bolivian musicians all hailing form
the village of Irubicha a remote village some 330 kilometres
from the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
The CD booklet, which is adorned with several
attractive black and white photos is entirely in French, so
I have had to carefully piece my way through the extraordinary
story of the nomadic tribe known as the Guarayos which received
a group of Jesuit missionaries in 1692, led by one Padre Walter
Neuwith, who brought with them the Christian culture, converted
the tribe to Catholicism and discovered that they were an extraordinarily
talented musical people. The Jesuits taught them the prevailing
Latin Church music popular at the time but did not expunge the
native music and the indigenous instruments. Sporadic contacts
continued with the Jesuits after 1800 and churches were constructed.
The booklet quotes one Alcide dOrbigny who in 1831, after a
visit to the village, wrote, in my own translation, "We
attended a grand Mass with Italian music. It was a considerable
surprise to hear such music sung by the Indians and it was preferable
to what we had heard in the richer towns." He continues,
saying that there was "an organ and a number of violins
I heard this music with ravishment; nowhere in all America have
I witnessed anything more beautiful." Well, he would delighted
to know that the Guarayos people have kept the tradition alive
Some of this music (the booklet does not tell
us exactly which) was recorded at the Cathedral in the city
of Sucre which is in the Eastern foothills of the Andes, as
part of a festival concert. There is some audience noise. The
background to the concert and the one recorded in Brussels is
set out in the booklet but there is no information about the
music and the composers and no texts are given.
In fairness you are unlikely to buy this CD
because of the actual music on it, which is not so unusual,
or indeed for the performances, but for its curiosity value.
The instrumental playing is good and some of it full of considerable
charm and appropriate character, however the choral work is
not so good, with poor intonation in the Regina Coeli and the
Cantemus Domino. The soloists are generally effective and give
a strong lead. They are the sopranos Maria Alicia Vaubaza, Rosa
Papu, Theophanie Fredrich and Nicole Braun in the Bolivian recorded
pieces and a further list of Claire Decaux, Benedicte Tauran
with Aline Metzingen and Jean-Bernard Arbeit baritone, in the
Sarrebourg recording. Jean-Claude Malgoire, a renown baroque
specialist, obviously takes the whole project to his heart and
is no doubt responsible for the fascinating programming.
The performances are fresh lively and full
Personally my favourite track is the Bolivian
traditional piece [track 1] with its accompaniment of percussion
and violins and the Mass extracts which are simply the Kyrie
and Gloria from a work which is standard late-baroque but which
is quite delightful. I will just add that the Mass, at almost
eighteen minutes, is the longest track on the CD. I am delighted
to say that it has eight index points corresponding with the
sectionalised nature of the text. If only more companies would
use this system.