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 t
Catalogue number 8554836
Barcode 0636943483626
Release date 04/01/2001
Label Naxos
Format CD
Number of discs 1
Composers Cabezon, Antonio de
Cabezon, Hernando de
Cabezon, Juan de
Cabezon, Antonio de
Cabezon, Hernando de
Cabezon, Juan de
Conductors Wimmer, Thomas
Wimmer, Thomas
Orchestras Accentus Ensemble
Accentus Ensemble
Producers W. A. R. Studio
W. A. R. Studio
Disc: 1
Rugier, glosado de Antonio
1 Diferencias sobre la Gallarda Milanesa
2 Tiento I
3 Fabordon y glosas del Primer Tono Ilano
4 Ancol que col partire
5 Himno: Ave, maris stella VI
6 Pavana con su glosa
7 Pues a mi desconsolado
8 Dic nobis, Maria
9 Diferencias sobre Guarda me las vacas
10 Diferencias sobre el canto de La dama le demanda
11 Fabordon y glosas del Sexto Tono
12 Diferencias sobre el canto del Cauallero
13 Pavana Italiana
14 Tiento XVIII
15 Himno: Te lucis ante terminum
16 Du uien sela
17 Susana un jur: Glosado
18 Romance: Para quien crie yo cabellos
19 Himno: Pange lingua V
20 Rugier, glosado de Antonio
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