A suo piacereFriday, August 11, 2017
|Top - Stephen Stubbs (holding a vihuela), Tekla Cunningham & Maxine Eilander. Bottom Tess Altiveros|
|From left Adam LaMotte, Peter Maund, Henry Lebedinsky & Danielle Sampson|
Esteban Salas : Compositor a caballo entre el barroco tardío y el clasicismo, con un lenguaje que conjuga elementos estilísticos del barroco español y rasgos italianizantes, su catálogo comprende más de centenar y medio de obras religiosas entre misas, oficios, lamentaciones, lecciones, pasionarios, motetes, salmos, pastorelas, cantadas y villancicos (de los que, por cierto, era también autor del texto).
Alejo Carpentier - Wikipedia
Esteban Salas: A composer on horseback between the late baroque and classism, used a language that combined the stylistic elements of the Spanish baroque with bits of the Italian who composed masses, lamentations, musical tragedies, motets, psalms, pastorals, cantatas, Christmas carols (of which he wrote the lyrics)
I was on the first row at Christ Church Cathedral last night listening to Music of Missions and Mysteries: Latin American Baroque which was a concert part of Early Music Vancouver’s Summer Bach Festival which finishes tonight with Bach’s St. John Passion at the Chan Centre.
In short the concert was a delight which featured composers I had never heard of. It was sort of new music of the 17th and 18th century. Chances are that I will probably never hear any of this music live again.
Coincidentally people have disdain for the cultural life of our city and foreigners or enlightened Vancouverites who travel complain about it. An Argentine woman ( I guessed she was an Argy by her accent in speaking English) who somehow ended at the cathedral by accident (and was purchasing a ticket for herself and Peruvian friend) asked me about the concert. She knew nothing of what baroque music is.
Buenos Aires has a monumental opera house, Teatro Colón, that constantly has concerts of 19th century masterworks. The chance that she would have ever heard any of the works performed last night, were next to none. I felt smug! Yes, Vancouver is not a cultural wasteland!
The concert took me back to many memories. One of them involved lute, baroque guitar and vihuela (Spanish baroque guitar) player and leader of Pacific Music Works group playing last night and his American fellow lutenist Paul O’Dette who some years ago in an intimate concert on 6th Avenue (near Granville) told us how they had traveled to Latin America to find out how the technique of playing plucked string instruments brought by the Spaniards after Columbus could be studied as to find out how to play the plucked music of the baroque in Europe.
This was in complete evidence during the evening particularly when the music included the fine percussionist Peter Maund who wielded only a tambourine and Maxine Eilander with her baroque harp (much wider at the base and with crossed strings instead of the parallel ones of modern harps).
The sound ( luckily this harp does not sound angelic) was strikingly reminiscent of the harp music of Paraguay which is similar to the music of the States of Veracruz and Chiapas in Mexico. This was completely proven in Colorado a harp solo on a Paraguayan folk tune. With Maund and Eilander it seemed we should have all gotten up to dance a rhumba or salsa or whatever with perhaps a few bananas and pineapples on our head.
But the night for me was taking me back (as I wrote above) to memories of my past in living in Latin America.
As Emily Dickinson wrote:
There is no Frigate like a Book (1286)
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –
In this case the frigate was taking me on board a ship going from France to the New World at the end of the 18th century with a guillotine on board. The novel El Siglo de las Luces (would correctly translate to the Age of Enlightenment but became in English The Explosion in the Cathedral). The novel was written by French-born author Alejo Carpentier (1904 – 1980) who lived most of his life in Cuba. Carpentier coined the term “realismo mágico”. Besides being a novelist and essayist he was a music critic. His curiosity led him to discover the music of the virtually unknown late baroque Cuban composer Esteban Salas in a cabinet in the cathedral of Santiago, Cuba.
Because of Carpentier and other punctilious scholars and archivists who discovered long lost musical manuscripts in places like the Mexico City Cathedral of the Guatemala City Cathedral, last night’s concert was made possible. Some of these manuscripts have deteriorated so Pacific Music Works organist and harpsichordist, Henry Lebedinsky (also a scholar) painstakingly put together (with tremendous effort) the concert with the help of that other enlightened scholar and musician Stephen Stubbs.
I was particularly moved by the slow movementa of Domenico Zipoli’s (sólo en su casa lo conocen), Sonata in A: Largo performed by violinist Tekla Cunningham and that of violinist Adam LaMotte (who was wearing shoes purchased in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico which had decidedly pointed tips at extreme angle from the floor) playing the Anonymous (18th Century –Mexico City Cathedral Archive) Largo.
From my vantage point on that first row I was able to hear Stubb’s playing with clarity.
All in all a concert to keep in my memory and time to perhaps read again Alejo Carpentier’s short story El Acoso (The Chase) in which all events happen during the 46 minute performance of Beethoven’s Symphony # 3, Eroica. That story has for me a startling connection with magic realism. I wrote about it here.