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Peregrinatio (Els Primers Viatges) - Ramon Llull: Volume 2
Musica Reservata Barcelona (Isabel Juaneda, Marta Rodrigo, Mercè Trujillo, Jordi Blanco, Tomàs Maxé, Albert Riera, Antonio Trigueros, Jordi Abelló)
Capella de Ministrers (Carles Magraner (viella, violas); Aziz Samsaoui (sas çura, ud, qanun); Jota Martínez (viola de rueda, organistrum, laúd otomano, laúd medieval, cítola, setar, guiterna, baglama, añafil, pedal organetto); José Luis Pastor (laúd, medieval, cítola); Eduard Navarro (duduk, oud, cornamusas, chirimía, chalumeau); Miguel Ángel Orero (salterio, percusiones); Pau Ballester (tintinnabulum, percusiones); Spyros Kaniaris (Lyra de Pontos, bouzouki); David Antich (flautas); Manuel Vilas (arpa); Ignasi Jordá (exaquier, organetto))/Carles Magraner
rec. dbc estudios, Valencia, España, 10-15 September 2015
LICANUS CDM1638 [64.19]

Quite recently I reviewed the first in this series of Licanus CDs based around the life of Ramon Llull (Raymond Lully). This second disc is entitled Peregrinatio - Els Primers Viatges (The first voyages) and to start with I am partially quoting my earlier article.

Raymond Lully died, according to the CD essay writer in 1316 (700 years ago) - other sources say 1315 - anyway seven hundred years ago more or less. Who is he you might cry? He was a philosopher and writer of great distinction and also an inveterate traveller. Licanus and Magraner take us on a European journey so that we can hear music that was popular during his lifetime and with which he might have been familiar. We travel from France, as represented by Adam de la Halle with his lengthy song De cuer pensieu, across Spain with Alpha, bovi et leoni from the Codex Las Huelgas to Italy with a Laudario or lauda-like Laudar voglio per amore in praise of St. Francis of Assisi and eventually to Tunis with the recitation (over an Oud accompaniment) of Taryuman al-ashwâq. While there Lully would have talked to and attempted to convert the Muslims. This last poem announces that the Muslim poet has become tolerant of all religions and has come to realise the peace found in the Quar’an. The last track uses Mikdash, a Sephardic melody, which is given the subtitle Les trés cultures. The disc ends with the faint sound of a church-bell and an even fainter muezzin call-to-worship.

Llull or Lully was born in Majorca in 1232 and in his earlier days was, like St. Augustine, something of a miscreant. He had ‘a conversion’. To quote the accompanying essay in its somewhat convoluted English, the CD offers ‘a musical tour to accompany the first stages in the life of Lully from the moment in which occurred radical changes. These, he believed, were divinely inspired and would lead him to intellectual illumination, as found in his book ‘Llibre de contemplacio en Déu’'. Later on, whilst living in quiet contemplation in Montpellier, he wrote the ‘Llibre del mon contra els errors del infedels’ and the ‘Art of finding truth’, the ‘Art de trobar veritat’.

This disc has fourteen tracks, a mixture of instrumental dances or songs and vocal items. Like the first disc ‘Ars Antiqua’, these are taken from a variety of sources. Of especial interest is Giraud Riquier (d.1292) whom Lully must have known, the so-called last of the troubadours. Curiously, although over twenty of Riquier’s melodies survive we are treated to a recited poem over a meandering harp improvisation. Later there's a full song Pus sabers no-m val ni sens but I’m not sure what to think of the improvised accompaniment on the ‘xeremia’, a keyboard instrument of a later period. There are also instrumental versions of songs such as Apris ai qu’en chantant but the CD opens with an Estampie. I recall the late Professor Gilbert Reaney telling me that there is written evidence that this dance could also be rendered vocally; there are many grey areas in terms of performance practice.

Courtly love is forever present during this period. Riquier can complain that “Now my pain is twofold/for love hath made me/love a lady such, meseemeth I shall never have”. He would also have known well the advice given by the mysterious author Andreas Capellanus who warns that “you ought not to seek the love of a woman who you know will grant easily what you seek” (The Art of Courtly Love, c.1170).

The group Capella de Ministreres consists of ten instrumentalists playing both western and eastern medieval instruments contrasting viols and cornamuse for example with the oud and the ‘saz cura’ (a long necked lute). This group is joined by the eight singers of Music Reservata, allowing for much variety but with an irritating tendency to ‘over-orchestrate’ some songs.

All texts are given but beware, not all are sung. This is a particular pity in the case of the beautiful De la flor de paradis.

The lovely booklet also has pictures from various contemporary manuscripts.

Gary Higginson



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