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8.554836 - CABEZON: Tientos y Glosados
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Antonio de Cabezón (1510-1566)

Tientos y Glosados

Antonio de Cabezón was born in 1510 at Castrillo de Matajudíos, near Castrojeriz. He was blind from birth or at least from early childhood and probably had his first instruction in music from the organist at Castrojeriz, continuing his musical education at the Cathedral of Palencia, where he never held any official position. In August 1522, through his influential teacher, he was introduced to the imperial family and in 1525 moved to Toledo, in 1526 becoming organist in the service of Queen Isabella. In 1538 he married Luisa Nuñez de Moscoso, daughter of a well-to-do family, who bore him five children, among them his son Hernando de Cabezón, who in 1578, published his father’s music in a comprehensive edition.

After the death of Queen Isabella in 1539, Antonio de Cabezón was appointed músico de cámara y capilla and from then onwards served the Emperor Charles V and his son, the future Philip II. He accompanied both of them on their journeys to Italy, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and England, and was thus able to meet the most significant musicians outside Spain. Various intabulations of chansons and madrigals bear witness to his extensive knowledge of the most important contemporary works. After his last journey to England with Prince Philip in 1554-56, he settled in the new capital, Madrid, where he died on 26th March 1566.

In his lifetime Antonio de Cabezón was regarded as a master of keyboard performance, his importance indicated by the fact that he was one of the very few instrumentalists whose name appears in payment and appointment lists. He is considered to have been the founder of a tradition that spanned the period from Francisco de Arauxo, Pablo Bruna, Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia and Rodrigues Coelho to Juan Cabanilles in the late seventeenth century and his work came at a time when instrumental music was slowly freeing itself from its vocal predecessors, as some instruments noticeably broke away from their earlier function as accompaniment to voices. For a long time it had been usual for vocal parts to be accompanied and reinforced by corresponding instruments, such as the cembalo, clavichord, harp, viols, flute and others. As a result of this, most instrumentalists were familiar with the general vocal repertoire and were accustomed to performing and probably ornamenting it. The step towards the achievement of independence, the performance of an actual original vocal piece in a purely instrumental version arising from new possibilities, was not far off. Cabezón attained a mastery in this art in which he brought out the characteristic properties of his instrument, the organ or the cembalo, while keeping the singing quality of individual parts, free of empty rhetoric or stereotypical flourishes to fill out the texture. Through the constant tensions between harmony, melody and virtuoso ornamentation he achieved a musical idiom with an expressiveness of its own.

How close this form of instrumental solo music was to its original vocal source becomes evident in that the free compositions themselves, which depend on no earlier model, are nevertheless constructed from strongly conventional individual parts that proceed with an inner harmonic regularity. Their range, register and function in the composition correspond exactly with what we know from vocal works.

In addition to his gifts as a composer, Cabezón also impresses us by the variety of musical forms to which he devoted himself and the breadth of his interests. As well as arrangements of the Ordinary of the Mass, we find among his works all the forms that were in use in Spain during the first half of the sixteenth century.

Diferencias are based on popular dance melodies, supported by a figured bass, or derived from the particularly rich Spanish song repertoire of the time. Cabezón generally presents the theme and then allows it to be played with variation in one or more parts in smaller note values. Often as, for example, in Diferencias sobre el canto del Cauallero, he adds the original theme in another register, in the manner of a cantus firmus. His melodic and harmonic variation is never mere conventional filling out but rather a spontaneous and individual development of the material. Generally for Cabezón predetermined forms and numbers of bars seem sometimes not of great importance, since we always come upon extra bars, half bars that break the previous pattern, or a continual augmentation of bars, yet all this is not arbitrary but a consequent development of a logical harmonic and melodic idea.

Glosas (ornamentations of chansons, madrigals or so-called falsobordónes, fabordónes in shorter form), Hymns, embellishments especially of the Ordinary of the Mass from the Gregorian or Mozarabic rite, Versillos, short harmonized choral passages with ornamentation, as study material for students, and Tientos make up the remaining works of Cabezón, whose first compositions have survived in the Libro de Cifra Nueva para tecla, harpa y vihuela of Luys Venegas de Henestrosa, published in Alcalá de Henares in 1557. The majority of his compositions appeared first in 1578 when his son Hernando published his father’s legacy under the title Obras de Música para tecla, arpa y vihuela de Antonio de Cabeçon, músico de la Camara y Capilla del Rey Don Philippe nuestro Señor. This collection, which includes only a few pieces by Hernando and by Antonio’s brother Juan, like so many publications of the sixteenth century for vihuela or lute, is strongly didactic and also contains works, particularly versillos and fabordónes, that are designed much more as a demonstration of the method of harmonizing a work and its ornamentation than for practical performance. The pieces were not written as is usual today on two-stave keyboard notation but in tablature. A line is used for a part, on which numbers and dots are marked for individual notes, their length indicated above the line. Through the graphic separation of the parts their individual identity is clear (in modern notation the crossing of parts is often indicated by lines), while the harmonic element, on the other hand, was not to the fore.

Why, then, play keyboard music on a number of other instruments? Unfortunately no evidence or written music survives from sixteenth-century Spain that shows what an instrumental ensemble played. Doubtless there were some ensembles, relatively extensive, consisting of cornetti, sackbuts, recorders, harp, cembalo, clavichord and viols, the elements of church, noble or royal musical establishments. String instruments, in particular, were often considered the finest, their softer sound suggesting a cultural ideal: the nobility played string and keyboard instruments, for which the playing position was more seemly than the puffed out cheeks called for in a wind-player. From the lack of any evidence of the constitution of ensembles three conclusions can be drawn: first, that instrumentalists never played alone but only to accompany singers, a very doubtful theory; second that instrumental music was generally improvised; third that vocal or solo music was arranged for harp, or for organ (which in any case was always conceived and written with separate parts) and simply adapted, perhaps with slight changes, to the needs of a particular instrumental ensemble, a practice that was generally followed until the time of Vivaldi. Hernando de Cabezón himself suggests a freer handling of instrumentation, when he expressly talks in his title of music for cembalo, harp and vihuela and not of music that can only be played on certain instruments. We have followed this principle in the present recording with different instrumentation from one piece to another, or within a piece, to make possible a change of timbre. A variation of tone colour of this kind was an idea that originally stemmed, in any case, from the range of a mixed ensemble and was imitated on the organ by various stops, the names of many of which reflect this.

The Diferencias sobre la Gallarda Milanesa, the place of origin of the dance indicated in the title, offer an attractive virtuoso dialogue between the variation of the upper part and the bass, or, in the language of the keyboard, of the right and left hand.

The Tiento in Spain was a freely composed composition, similar to the Fantasie or Ricercare of Flemish, English or Italian composers. Cabezón drew thematic material from the often fugal style introductory motif.

The fully harmonized Fabordónes of Spanish organists of the sixteenth century are distinguished in particular by the lack of parallel thirds and sixths from the medieval fauxbourdon of English practice. In the publication of 1578 there are eight fabordónes in the different church modes, all similarly and didactically constructed: instead of setting the parts together at the same time without fugato, in the introduction of the short, harmonized verse sequence, which always has a cadence in the middle and at the end of the piece, the variations (glosas) are linked together. In the Fabordón Primer Tono llano (the Spanish ‘tone’ does not always correspond to the Gregorian mode) the descant begins, followed by the bass and finally one of the inner parts, offering a so-called bastarda part.

Ancol que col partire is a variation on the well-known composition by Cipriano de Rore (in the original Anchor che col partire, here given a Spanish title) and one of the many examples of vocal works from outside Spain treated by Cabezón.

The hymn Ave, maris stella is constructed on a cantus firmus from Gregorian chant, here given in the bass. It is striking that in the work of Cabezón as in that of his immediate successors as organists there are few arrangements of parts of the Ordinary of the Mass but merely of intermedios or elements of the Divine Office. It seems that the organ was only used as an accompanying instrument during the Mass.

The Pavana con su glosa takes one of the many court dances that were in fashion in the sixteenth century and is a rare example of a Pavane in triple time.

Pues a mi desconsolado is by Antonio Cabezón’s younger brother, Juan (c.1515?-1566) and offers a variation on a Castilian song. It is one of the two surviving examples of his work, an indication, nevertheless, of his gifts as a composer.

The cantus firmus of the first and some of the later phrases of Dic nobis, Maria is taken from the Easter sequence, Victimae pasquali laudes.

Cabezón wrote three sets of variations on Guardame las vacas, a bass theme popular into the seventeenth century and treated by almost every composer of instrumental solo music in many versions.

The Diferencias sobre el canto La Dama le demanda are variations on a now unknown folk-song, treated in five sections in which right and left hand (descant and bass) alternate.

In the Fabordon y glosas del Sexto Tono the harmonized melody is heard first, followed by a variation for the descant, then for the middle voice and finally the bass, contrasting groups of five and eight notes.

In the Diferencias sobre el canto del Cauallero the theme, heard first in the descant, appears in all parts and offers the only point of rest in an otherwise lively composition. Beginning with the tenor, the cantus firmus is taken over by the alto and finally by the bass in octaves, over which both upper parts join in dialogue.

The title of the Pavana Italiana is an indication of the origin of the dance, given in English sources as Spanish Pavin. Through the virtuoso increase in tempo the dance is transformed into a concert piece.

Tiento XVIII is in the Phrygian mode and is perhaps one of Cabezón’s freely composed works.

The melody of the hymn Te lucis ante terminum, the cantus firmus in the tenor, was not at this time found in the Vatican codex.

Du uien sela is based on a chanson by Claude de Sermisy, Dont vien celà and offers a series of fluent variations.

The original chanson Susana un jur comes from Orlando di Lasso, with variations by Hernando de Cabezón (1541-1602). Although there also exists a version by Antonio de Cabezón, we decided to use this later version as a very good example of the way in which variation technique later developed. In his version Antonio de Cabezón does not adhere strictly to the principle of dividing the beat (minim — crotchet — quaver — semiquaver). Hernando and all following composers favour the quick change in variations from quavers to semiquavers, triplets and groups of five notes (and in other compositions of seven). Naturally the original composition disappears with the introduction of many notes to the beat and is often only recognisable through the harmony. Because of the great familiarity of many standard works that might seem to have no part to play, but, of course, at least for the trained musician, the original theme was always distinguishable.

The text and origin of the melody of the romance Para quien crie yo cabellos are unknown. The present version offers a melody reconstructed from the descant of the second part.

For the hymn Pange lingua Cabezón turns to the Spanish Mozarabic rite, a sequence traditionally used for the Feast of Corpus Christi. The theme itself is first introduced in the tenor part, here given to the flute, in bar 16, after the varied parts have already suggested the character of the piece.

Rugier, as Higinio Anglés suggests, must refer to Rogier Patie, from Cambrai, who was later organist in the Capilla Flamenca of Mary of Hungary and lived in Spain from 1555 until his death in 1559.

Thomas Wimmer

English version by Keith Anderson


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