DE ALLENDE THE SEA TO THE SOUTH EUROPE
I like things to be exactly s the same again and again.
<p-“text-align: right;”>Andy Warhol
Chaconnerie is a replay-speaking album. Chaconnerie shows that principle of Art that seeks to combine elements over and over again to achieve balance and unity. Chaconnerie invites a journey in which sounds – over the centuries – are built on an insistently repeated or fancifully varied scheme.
Repetition has always flooded the artistic manifestations or expressions of man, from the moais of Easter Island to the drawings of Max C. Escher. Repetition is rhythm, pulse, life. And life oozes the chacona, a dance to which Lope de Vega attributes American origin (“from the Indies to Seville/has come by the post”) and whose character Miguel de Cervantes describes as lewd and immoral. With an accent on the second half and variation on harmonic scheme, this dance bass – along with those of zarabandas, folks and streetwalks – led to improvisation on chord progressions, a novelty of great impact in the European musical Baroque.
In the hospital of Mesina (Sicily), a city from which the Christian ships that won the Battle of Lepanto departed in 1571, Miguel de Cervantes spent a few months. The city reached its maximum splendour in the early 17th century, under Spanish rule, and there it develops its activity Bernardo Storace (c. 1637-c. 1707). Little else we know about him. At the other end of the peninsula, in Venice, he sees the light in 1664 his Selva di varie compositioni d’intavolatura per cimbalo et organo, collection of variations on folk dances and melodies along with chaconas and walkways based on the repetition of four Bars. Towards the end of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries the harmonic formulas that had been used in different Renaissance dances – monica, Spanisheta, bergamasca, ruggiero, Romanesque or folía – were used for the composition of series of variations.
The transparent simplicity of syccona Storace’s – built on the primitive form of chacona bass – contrasts with the abstraction of the brief Partite sopra La Romanesca de Michelangelo Rossi (1602-1656). Born in Genoa and installed in Rome, he was recognized by his contemporaries as an exceptional violinist, but his reputation lies in his work for key, where he explores unsuspected boundaries with the cromatisms. In the Partite thushides the original pattern that the listener must really strive to recognize the bass of Romanesca which, with slight variations, coincides in its melodic-rhythmic formula with the Spanish Save me the cows.
In the service of the most powerful kings, Charles V and Philip II, Antonio de Cabezón (1510-1566) was the most illustrious organist and composer of 16th-century Europe. He cultivated sacred and secular genera; Among the latter are “bright” and “differences”, which are but variations on a bass ostinato and a melody. It is the case of the Differances on cows, written on a popular romance whose letter shows that the picaresque was the order of the day: “Save the cows, carillejo and besart’ he, but, kiss me that I will keep them to you”.
BREAK AND PLAY WITH TRADITION
I met Gy-rgy Ligeti (1923-2006) in an ambitious meeting dedicated to him and held in The Hague in 1994. The goal was to work and interpret all his work, and luckily the key was not out of play. His strong character was but a mirror of demand and mastery in his creative field. I was surprised by his tremendous admiration for ancient music and his knowledge of the musics of Antonio de Cabezón, Michelangelo Rossi or Girolamo Frescobaldi. He had experimented even with ancient temperaments, coming to conceive the Passacaglia Ungherese (1978) for a key tuned in mesotonic temperament (hard to today’s ears). Ten years earlier his Continuum abruptly broke with everything written to the key so far: the paradoxical creation of a continuous illusion of sound from the very fast repetition of notes – creating at the same time different rhythms and textures – demonstrates his knowledge of the instrument’s mechanics and a brilliant use of the resonance of the key beyond the tonal world (however, there is no shortage of veiled references to the Well-tempered key of J. S. Bach).
When tackling the Hungarian Rock (Chaconne) (1978) Ligeti recognized, along with the balkan rhythms and Balkan rhythms, the influence of the rock of the moment and its tribute to the Beatles. On that occasion no i understood such a relationship, beyond the characteristic accents in the last beat (the crash or the box roll) that the composer demanded without having written in the score, since it was “taken for granted” in the case of a rock – a chacona, in short, built on four bars. Over time I find the influence of songs from the Most Psychedelic stage of the Beatles undeniable: the rhythmic “Tomorrow Never Knows” (Revolver) or the special effects of “A day in the life” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts) permeate the just five minutes from Hungarian Rock. “Apple-converted-space” “”
Interestingly, in an interview with Ulrich Dibelius in 1993, Gyergy Ligeti acknowledged that both Rock and Passacaglia Ungherese had been conceived as ironic comments to his students’ discussions in Hamburg, and as reactions to the neotonal and postmodern movement. The irony, in any case, has left us a key piece in the repertoire of the twentieth century and a no-brainer: the tradition of chacona remains in force today in jazz, pop and rock music.
STREET TO COURT
Let us turn for a moment our gaze slightly north: the key moment in the first transformation of the chacona is in the early seventeenth century in the France of Louis XIV, where it goes from social dance to the stage; the chacona is danced by women while the passstreet men (Chorégraphie, ou L’art de décrire la dance, R.-A. Feuillet, 1703). Thus, the primitive binary form began to become more extensive (4, 5, 6 or more parts), as happens in Lully’s works, and soon after it would lead to the hored form (A-B-A-C-A-D-A…). The Chaconne la Complaignante Louis Couperin (1626-1661) is the perfect illustration of this new genre and the title itself (“the whining”) suggests a character quite different from that fun aroused by the original dance.
It is apparent from the Bauyn Manuscript that Couperin did not organize his harpsichord pieces in a fixed order, but grouped the different types of dance by tones. After the preludes, allemandes, courantes, sarabandes… appeared one or more chaconas. The performer could thus select the pieces of the same tone to create a set of dances to his liking. “Apple-converted-space” “”
Also as an isolated piece we have arrived, along with other dances and in various manuscripts by the hand of his copyists, the Chaconne in G minor HWV 486 by Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759). “Apple-converted-space” They are early pieces, pre-departure to England and probably from his time in Hamburg (1702-1706), when he made a living in part by giving key lessons. Hamburg! There he knew, no doubt, the keys of the famed local builder Hieronymus Albrecht Hass, representative of the German school: robust instruments, powerful sound – far from the brilliance of italian keys and the delicacy of the French – and very often with a 16′ serious record whose depth we can check in this case in the last bars of the Chaconne.
Adopting once again the French nomenclature, Haendel presents here another type of transformation of the chacona: the theme form and variations, a practice that very possibly arose from the musicians themselves as they tried to flee the monotony that involves repeating in a way indefinite a four/eight-bar structure. “Apple-converted-space” “”
GREAT CYCLES OF VARIATIONS
Thus, instrumental variations on a harmonic scheme or a bass phrase would become one of the greatest exponents of the creative capacity of composers in the 18th century.
In the universe of the bassi ostinati only one name could shade the chacona: the folia, a 15th-century dance originally from Portugal that later moved to Spain. He could receive only such a name (“madness”) a dance that was danced with wild songs while the protagonists seemed to be out of the self. The term went on to designate a harmonic-melodic scheme that has proved to be the most recurrent in the history of music and reached its peak around 1700 with the follies included in Arcangelo Corelli’s Opus V.
The Neapolitan Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725) enjoyed great fame as a composer of operas and vocal works. however, perhaps encouraged by the success of Corelli and later the Op. 1 by Vivaldi (1705), writes in 1710 a cycle of thirty elaborate variations on the foliage, bright, lively, virtuous.
Nearly two thousand kilometres away, in cold Hamburg, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788) left his post at the Berlin court of Frederick of Prussia in 1768 to succeed his godfather G. Ph. Telemann as Kapellmeister. Carl Philipp had underlined the importance of variation in the preface to his Sechs Sonaten f’r Clavier mit ver’nderten Reprisen (Berlin, 1760): “Repetitions with variations are indispensable today. Everyone expects that from any interpreter.”
What could perhaps not be expected is that in those latitudes and in the last third of the eighteenth century she was a familiar subject for the walker, but rather something archaic. The twelve variations on Les Folies d’Espagne Wq. 118/9 blur the character of dance to display a range of fantasy, virtuosity, contrasting characters – theatrical, I would say – and expressions taken to the extreme.
In any case – what hell! – leaving the original spirit is something his father had already done. Nothing strays further from the lascivia, madness and debauchery than Ciaccona of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 BWV 1004 (1685-1750). Composed apparently under the pain of the news – on the return of a journey made in 1720 – of the death of his wife Maria Barbara, the musicologist Helga Thoene highlighted the rhetoric of lament and Lutheran corals that hide along the Ciaccona , throwing moral and religious messages. “If I could imagine myself writing or conceiving such a work, I am sure that extreme excitement and emotional tension would drive me crazy,” Johannes Brahms confessed.
Considered one of the deepest works in the history of music, the Ciaccona itself became the object of countless arrangements and transcriptions from the nineteenth century to the present day: for piano (Busoni, Brahms), organ, cello, guitar, orchestra (Stokowski), etc. So much lyrics have been poured on the subject that I would only like to highlight two aspects of this recording.
On the one hand, I want to record my admiration for the transcription of Lars Ulrik Mortensen. Harpist and director, a deep connoisseur of the instrument, the practice of continuous bass and contrapuntal language, published in 2003 this masterful version as an epilogue to The Keyboard in Baroque Europe (Cambridge University Press), a set of essays dedicated to the missing master Gustav Leonhardt on his 75th birthday. “Apple-converted-space” “”
On the other hand, the possibility of using a copy of the biggest known key before the twentieth century gives the Ciaccona an imposing organistic dimension. The original key, built by H. A. Hass in 1740 – with three manuals, five sets of strings (16′ 8′ 8′ 4′ 2′), six rows of martinetes, one lute record and another harp record for the 16’– ended up in the hands of the harpist Rafael Puyana. He later commissioned a copy to Robert Goble & Son, an instrument he donated to the Manuel de Falla Archive in Granada.
BACK TO THE CARIBBEAN
Let’s close the circle: let’s cross back to the other side of the Atlantic. The Beatles’ breakthrough in the 1960s coincides with the golden era of salsa in Puerto Rico. And if Gyergy Ligeti incorporates into his creations the current music no less does it Roberto Sierra (1953), who has always discarded the false division between classical and popular music: “I am Puerto Rican. I’m representing the sounds of ours and the deep Caribbean.” The relationship brought here between Ligeti and Sierra, which recognizes the former as his great teacher since his studies in Hamburg, is not at all forced: “The figure of Ligeti remains in my memory both in the personal and artistic spheres. He was a friend and mentor, an example of absolute musical integrity, and of aspiration to the most refined in terms of technique.”
Through Ligeti he met Roberto to Elisabeth Chojnacka, for whom he wrote Con Salsa y La Nocturnal (I had the honor in 2011 to star in his premiere in Spain, together with the Enigma Group, in the Auditorium of Zaragoza and in the National Auditorium of Madrid) . “His great presence, virtuosity and artistic qualities certainly influenced my approach to the key.” Therefore, it is not surprising the domain with which it applies its language to the instrument in the Montuno in the form of a chacon. When in 2017 he received the commission by the Festival of Spanish Music of Cádiz did not hesitate to write a montuno, they are of Afro-Cuban origin: “It happens that the use of ostinati is one of my favorite resources. Having something fixed that doesn’t change allows and forces the imagination to unleash chains. In contemporary composition it acts as an anchor, as a substitute for the lack of tonal centers. It also fits perfectly within my Caribbean visions: the stubborn repetitions of the montunos in the salsa music are small walks or chaconas.”
As a happy dedication, I face the powerful rhythm of the mountain, the technical demand and the expression of madness (small nod to the folklore included) that brings us back to the sensuality of the beginning, to the origin of those dances anchored to the earth, to life and to Nature. Roberto writes vitality, fantasy and madness. Bustle, outdoors. Caribbean.
EPÍLOGUE WITH ENGLISH
Could we forget the ground basses and Henry Purcell (1659-1695)? Passionate about variation, the bassi ostinati (grounds in England) would be the sustenance of some of their most beautiful pieces, both instrumental and vocal. Needless to recall the startling lament “When I am laid in earth” by the opera Dido and Aeneas (1689).
No… let’s return to 17th-century Europe; let’s get together, get our hair done after Puerto Rican fury and relax the atmosphere with A new ground, the instrumental version of the aria “Here the deities approve” belonging to the ode welcome toWelcome all the pleasures (Welcome all pleasures). “Apple-converted-space” “”
Kind reader who you’ve come this far, accept my invitation to <ahref”https://youtu.be/4U_mVSlwbP4″target”_blank” rel”noopener noreferrer”>this fleeting sliver of elegant beauty while tasting – why not? – a good English tea.
“text-align: right;””Silvia Márquez Chulilla