Discography of Cantigas and related music
The following disks can be found in the classical room of any major
record store (Tower, Virgin, etc.). Some can be found at public and/or
University libraries, and most can be found at our house.
The Cantigas de Santa Maria is a collection of over 400 songs
about the Blessed Virgin Mary, compiled under the direction of King Alfonso
X (the Wise) of Spain in the 13th century. With that many to choose from,
there's room for a lot of groups to record a lot of albums. Furthermore,
the music notation in the manuscripts is ambiguous with respect to rhythm,
and of course says nothing about tempo, dynamics, instrumentation (if any),
etc. so there's room for a lot of different performance styles. Some groups
have chosen a very boisterous, percussive approach based largely on 20th-century
"traditional" music of north Africa and the Middle East, while
others take an interpretation more resembling the received wisdom on performance
of European troubadour and trouvere song.
However, for whatever reason, most groups recording this material have
mixed it with several other sources:
- The Cantigas de Amigo, by the 13th-century Portuguese Martim
Codax, is the first known "song cycle": the songs share considerable
melodic and textual material. Like many a song since, they're about pining
for a distant lover.
- The Codex Las Huelgas, from the Cistercian convent at Las Huelgas,
dates from the late 13th century. Its music more closely resembles what
was going on in Paris at that time than it does Arabic or Hebrew folksong.
- The Codex Calixtinus, a 12th-century copy of the tourist guide
Liber Sancti Jacobi, including numerous pilgrim songs from the shrine
of Santiago de Compostela.
- The Llibre Vermell, or "Red Book" (so called after
the 19th-century binding of the unique surviving manuscript), is a late
14th-century collection of pilgrim's songs from the shrine of the Black
Virgin of Montserrat.
- Ensemble Alcatraz. Visions and Miracles (Elektra Nonesuch 9
- Perhaps our favorite of the "boisterous" school, this disk
includes two selections from Las Huelgas and six Cantigas de Santa Maria,
one of which is performed in half a dozen different meters (remember the
"ambiguous rhythmic notation"?).
- Altramar. Iberian Garden, vol. I (Dorian DIS-80151)
- Subtitled "Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Music in Medieval Spain,
vol. I," this CD (and presumably its successor(s), which we haven't
heard) sets out to treat the three cultures of medieval Spain equally.
It contains one selection from the Cantigas de Santa Maria, one
from the Cantigas de Amigo, a 12th-c. canso from the troubadour
tradition, an Arabic poem by a 12th-c. Moslem, an Arabic poem by an 11th-c.
Jew, a Hebrew poem by a 12th-c. Jew, and a pilgrim's song from the Codex
- Anonymous 4. Miracles of Sant'iago (HMU 907156)
- New York's most famous early-music group performs a mix of monophonic
chant and polyphony from the Codex Calixtinus.
- Ensemble Anonymus. Llibre Vermell (Analekta AN 2 8001)
- This CD contains all fourteen pieces from the Llibre Vermell.
- Boston Camerata. The Sacred Bridge (Erato WE 810 ZK)
- This one contains a few cantigas, mixed with a large number of medieval
Sephardic poems in Ladino. Unfortunately, the Sephardic pieces have no
surviving music from the period, so the performers used more recent "traditional"
settings of them.
- Capella Reial de Catalunya / Hesperion XX. Cantigas de Santa Maria:
Strela do dia (Astree Auvidis E-8508).
- Thirteen cantigas de Santa Maria, performed by Jordi Savall's two musical
groups in a free, exuberant style.
- Discantus. Campus Stellae: from the Abbey of Saint-Martial de Limoges
to Santiago de Compostela (LC 5718)
- Brigitte Lesne and her all-girl orchestra perform a variety of pilgrim
songs from the Codex Calixtinus.
- Hesperion XX. Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (EMI CDM 7 63071
- Jordi Savall again.
- Huelgas Ensemble. Codex Las Huelgas: Music from 13th Century Spain
(Vivarte SK 53341)
- Paul van Nevel's ensemble does thirteen pieces from Las Huelgas.
- Esther Lamandier. Cantigas de Santa Maria (Astree Auvidis E
- Esther Lamandier sings nine cantigas in a spare, haunting style, accompanying
herself variously on harp, portative organ, and vielle. Highly recommended.
- New London Consort. Llibre Vermell: Pilgrim songs and dances
- Philip Pickett's group performs ten of the pilgrim songs from Montserrat.
- Sarband & Osnabrucker Jugend Chor. Llibre Vermell de Montserrat
- A recording of all fourteen pieces from the Llibre Vermell.
- Sequentia. Vox Iberica vol. I: Donnersöhne/Sons of Thunder:
Music for St. James the Apostle (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi D-7800)
- Benjamin Bagby and his highly respected ensemble perform 22 pieces
from the Codex Calixtinus.
- Sequentia. Vox Iberica vol. II: Codex Las Huelgas (Deutsche
Harmonia Mundi D-7800)
- Vocal performances of a number of songs from the Codex Las Huelgas.
- Sequentia. Vox Iberica vol. III: El Sabio (Deutsche Harmonia
- Vocal performances of a number of songs from the Cantigas de Santa
- Sonus. Echoes of Spain: Galician-Portuguese Music of the Middle
Ages (Dorian DIS-80154)
- Seven cantigas de amigo, two from Las Huelgas, and eight
cantigas de Santa Maria.
- Theatre of Voices. Cantigas from the Court of Dom Dinis (HMU
- Paul Hillier and Margriet Tindemans perform three cantigas de Santa
Maria, seven cantigas d'amor from the 13th-14th-century court of the Portuguese
king Dom Dinis, and four other love songs from 14th-century Spain.
- Ensemble Unicorn. Cantigas de Santa Maria (Naxos 8.553133)
- Thirteen cantigas de Santa Maria, using the "toybox" school
of performance ("let's see how many different instruments we can use
on one recording"). On the very inexpensive Naxos label, so for only
a few dollars you can make your own decision.
- Ensemble Venance Fortunat. Monodies et polyphonies extraites du
Codex Calixtinus: Manuscrit compostellan du douzieme siecle (SOCD 45)
- Sixteen pieces from the Codex Calixtinus.
- Waverly Consort. Las Cantigas de Santa Maria (OVC 2013)
- This CD consists mostly of Cantigas de Santa Maria, but it also contains
three pilgrim songs from the 14th-c. Llibre Vermell of Montserrat. Not
our favorite recording in regard to performance practice, but the Spanish-challenged
may appreciate that they recorded some of the tracks with English translations.
Thu Jan 21 10:12:24 EST 1999
Stephen Bloch / email@example.com