Luis de BRICEÑO(fl
early 17th C) El Fenix de Paris
Track-list at end of review
Le Poème Harmonique (Claire Leffiliâtre (soprano), Isabelle Druet
(mezzo), Mira Glodeanu (violin), Lucas Peres (viola da gamba), Thomas
de Pierrefeu (double bass), Marie Bournisien (harp), Vincent Dumestre,
Thor-Harald Johnsen, Massimo Moscardo (guitar), Joël Grare (percussion))/Vincent
rec. 21 - 25 March 2011, Église Évangélique Allemande, Paris, France.
Lyrics with translations included
ALPHA 182 [71:08]
It is not unusual for people who belong to closely-connected
cultures to have problematic relationships. That is the case
with the Dutch and the Germans, with the Swedes and the Norwegians,
and apparently also with the French, the Italians and Spanish.
The present disc bears witness to the fact that this was already
the case in the early 17th century. On the one hand many people
in France loved Spanish music. At the same time they could hardly
hide their disdain for the culture of their southern neighbours.
The programme of this disc circles around the character of Luis
de Briceño. He was born in Galicia and educated as a guitarist.
In 1614 he was in Paris, and married a French woman. He wrote
a treatise on playing the guitara alla spagnola, which
was dedicated to a French woman. He might even have taught King
Louis XIII to play this instrument. The treatise was printed,
at Briceño's own cost, by the famous publisher Ballard.
This undertaking was quite risky, but he must have felt that
there was enough interest in what he had to offer. The ambivalence
of the French toward everything Spanish was expressed by Briceño
himself in one of his songs, included in the treatise, ¡Ay,
ay, ay, tresveces ay! "They all make fun of me, and
I make fun of all of them, for if they call me an ass, they
are fools and idiots." On the other hand, as Thomas Leconte
writes in his liner-notes, "it was essential for a 'gentleman'
to be able to hear and speak at least the Italian and Spanish
He points out that Spanish music "played a modest but not
insignificant part in Parisian life". Several dances of
Spanish - or Latin-American - origin had found their way to
the royal court. These included the pavane d'Espagne,
the chaconne and the saraband. French collections of songs often
contained a number of pieces on Spanish texts, and French composers
were inspired by Spanish melodies. In the 1620s there was a
growing interest in Spanish culture, but there was a strong
satirical element in it. Some of the misgivings felt in relation
to Spain and Spanish culture were inspired by political developments.
Briceño was by no means an outsider in Paris. Not only was he
married to a French woman, he also had connections in military
circles close to Louis XIII. Whereas some criticised the Spanish
guitar because it was considered a rival of the lute, the theorist
Marin Mersenne praised the strumming technique of the guitar
and the instrument's possibilities in regard to rhythm
and sound. Briceño's treatise is further evidence of
the dissemination and popularity of Spanish melodies in that
only a succinct accompaniment and a few guidelines for the rhythm
of the 28 songs are given, together with the Spanish texts.
The melodies themselves are omitted, though; apparently these
were well well-known.
This causes quite a few problems for modern-day performers.
They have to do a lot of research to find the melodies which
Briceño will have had in mind. In order to deal with this the
members of Le Poème Harmonique have looked into various contemporary
manuscripts from Spain and elsewhere. They also had to improvise
where the sources failed to yield conclusive solutions. In addition
to the Briceño book they have taken compositions from other
The result is an absolutely fascinating and often exciting recording.
That is partly due to the rhythms which are so characteristic
of Spanish music. These are brilliantly exposed on the three
guitars used here. The violinist Mira Glodeanu also knows how
to deal with the rhythmic nature of the pieces she has to play.
The two singers are not Spanish, but give fully idiomatic performances,
as far as I can tell. The singing of Claire Leffiliâtre reminds
me of the late Montserrat Figueras, not so much in sound, but
in particular in her treatment of the texts and her musical
temperament. Isabelle Druet has a wonderful voice too, with
an effective low register. Her performance of Ay, que mal
by the unknown Francisco Berxes is outstanding. This piece is
highly intriguing for its strongly chromatic character. Spanish
music can also be introverted and moving. Try the anonymous
No soy yo: "It is not I you see living, for I
am no more, no, no, no; I am the shadow of one who died".
For anyone who likes Spanish music this disc is not to be missed.
It is one of the most original and exciting discs I have heard
recently. And guitar aficionados will be thrilled to hear no
fewer than three guitars on one disc. The booklet contains extended
liner-notes in English, French and German.
Johan van Veen
Luis de BRICEÑO El cavallo des marqués - Al villano se le dan, villano
[2:56] Que tenga yo a mi mujer, pasacalle [7:15] anon Para tener Nochebuena, jácara [3:16] Luis de BRICEÑO Ay amor loco, tono françes [3:06] anon Lloren mis ojos, tono humano [6:46] Luis de BRICEÑO Españoleta [8:04] Ay ay ay, todos se burlan de mi, romance [3:47] anon No soy yo, villancico [3:20] Francisco BERXES (?-?) Ay, qué mal, tono humano [3:10] Luis de BRICEÑO Andalo çaravanda [3:25] Pasacalle [2:44] anon Gaitas [1:05] Luis de BRICEÑO Danza de la Hacha [2:12] anon Canario [2:15] Luis de BRICEÑO Venteçillo murmurador, villancico [3:56] anon El baxel esta en la playa, air espagnol [2:20] Luis de BRICEÑO Serrana si vuestros ojos, folia [3:16] Dime que te quexas, seguidilla [3:30]
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