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The Dufay Collective suggests Soviet matters rather than mediaeval. It is odd to play most of the Cantigas as instrumental pieces, and fit three of them to troubadour words displacing the Virgin. But the range of instruments is jolly indeed, almost equalling Nebuchadnezzar's 'all kinds of musick' to honour his golden image. Some come from Egypt, India, Morocco, Turkey and Yemen (not even Alfonso ranged thus far); others are contemporary copies of original models. Great cheer can be produced by an oud, harp, psaltery and frame drum [listen -- HMU 907390 track 3, 0:00-1:23]. A song by a lovesick troubadour desirous of a woman who lies always with her husband perhaps needs a touch of the Virgin [listen -- HMU 907390 track 9, 0:00-1:07].

The seven poems by Martin Codax are as near as matters contemporary with Alfonso, even if they never met. They concern a touching tale of absent love based on the Galician port of Vigo, where eventually Francis Drake wrought havoc. Low mountains and islands protect the waterway, which penetrates deep inland. There is a spacious harbour famous for its fisheries. Perhaps the absent man was a distant crusader seeking the kingdom of heaven. More likely he sailed the seas as trader or humble fisherman. The watching woman veers from certainty of his return to acceptance that he will not come back. In the second poem she tells her mother she must haste to Vigo and meet him [listen -- HMU 907390 track 13, 1:03-2:22].

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Copyright © 25 May 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK


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