Misa Pastorela de Callosa
de Segura Anonymous Canto de entrada [2:48]
Misa Pastorela [23:05]
Los Forasteros (aguinaldo) [1:42]
A San Martin y a San Roque (aguinaldo) [1:45]
Villancico popular [1:51]
La Reina de los Cielos (villancico) [0:46]
Este Niño pequeño (villancico) [0:38]
A la Purísima (aguinaldo) [5:01]
Los Cuadros (aguinaldo) [4:59]
Camerata Amicitia; Coro de la
Fundación Pajares Salinas / Balbina Serna Huertas
rec. October 2006, Auditorio del Conservatorio Superior de Música de Murcia,
Texts and notes in Spanish only. RTVE MUSICA 65270 [42:43]
Having been fortunate enough
to make visits to the University of Murcia in south east
Spain, I did once play the tourist in the pleasant town of
Callosa de Segura not far away, though in the province of
Valencia. Its main church is that of St. Martin, an attractive
structure belonging (chiefly) to the sixteenth to eighteenth
centuries. In the eighteenth century, a priest from St. Martin’s
attended Mass in a church in Seville one day during the celebration
of Christmas. He was very struck by a Mass setting he heard
there, asked for a copy of the score and took it back with
him to Callosa de Segura. The mass followed a pretty common
pattern of the time. It used an organ - or sometimes a harmonium – to
support the singing of a principal voice, and to introduce
decorated versions of the relevant melodies and of traditional ‘carols’.
As the booklet notes of this CD rather charmingly put it,
the success of a given performance depended very much on
the skills of the organist, on his state of mind and on his “moderación
en la comida y sobre todo, en la bibida” (his moderation
in food and, chiefly, in drink)!
the following centuries, versions of this Mass were sung
regularly in St. Martin’s in Callosa de Segura on several
of the key days in Christmas Week. The church apparently
had a number of organists of considerable skill (and sobriety).
But the church’s organ was effectively destroyed in 1936
at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. After the war
years, attempts began to reconstruct the Mass, relying both
on a partial score copied earlier in the century and on the
memories of those who had performed it. In the course of
this reconstruction, rescoring for a small group of strings,
brass, woodwinds and percussion shifted the instrumental
emphasis away from the organ alone. The driving force behind
this activity was D. Luis Serena, generally known as ‘Maestro
Torbellino’. The results, with a few more changes along the
way (this is very much ‘organic’ music) are the basis for
this first recording of the Mass.
we get to hear is music of great charm, expressive of genuine,
unpretentious faith. Full of infectious rhythms and simple
melodies, this doesn’t – of course – have the weight or profundity
of the great settings of the Mass, but there are many moments
of sudden beauty, when the music slows, when voices and instruments
express the recognitions of faith, the sudden apprehensions
of the divine, with a thoroughly engrossing simplicity. There’s
a persuasive sense of commitment and utter honesty in the
performance which befits the nature and origins of the music.
This Mass is the musical equivalent of some of that beautiful
anonymous wooden sculpture that one sees in many of the churches
of southern Spain; not the grand high art of a sculptor like
Salzillo, but works by local craftsmen, traditional in conception
but enlivened by a response to local tastes and traditions.
Like the best of such sculpture, this music benefits from
subtle use of colour, a use that falls short of the lavishness
characteristic of the high baroque in Spain and retains a
thoroughly homely quality. The most extended movement in
this setting is the Credo, and very lovely it is; rather
less successful – as if its profundities are beyond its musical
reach – is the brief Agnus Dei. But overall this is a fascinating -
and thoroughly pleasurable – musical document.
same goes for the selection of traditional Callosino villancicos
and aguinaldos, sung with boisterous but sensitive energy.
Many of these have apparently been preserved by word of mouth
transmission and are frequently very touching in their representation
of popular religious sentiments and images. The brief ‘La
Reina de los Cielos’ and the nativity carol ‘Este Niño pequeño’ are
particularly lovely. One wonders quite how ancient their
melodies are. The aguinaldo ‘Los Cuadros’ makes a rousing
conclusion to the CD, with its antithesis between soloists
and chorus and some very lively instrumental accompaniment.
Some of the singing (and rhythms) here remind one that the
music originated in the home of flamenco.
is an unusual recording, valuable both as documentation of
a local tradition and as the opportunity to hear some music
that should appeal with an open-eared interest in Spanish
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