Canciones y Danzas de España / Hespèrion XX, Jordi Savall
Songs and Dances from the Time of Cervantes

EMI "Reflexe" 7 63145 2
LP original (1977): EMI "Reflexe" 1C 063 30 939 Q


01 - Pedro GUERRERO · s. XVI. La perra mora · baile   [1:38]

02 - Diego PISADOR · d. after 1557. La mañana de San Juan (1552)   [4:02]
Romance de Abindarráez

03 - Alonso MUDARRA · ?-1580. Fantasía y Gallarda (1546)   [3:25]

04 - Luis de NARVÁEZ · s. XVI. Romance del Rey moro que perdió Alhama   [3:42]

05 - Tres morillas m'enamoran   [1:37]
Cancionero de Palacio · instr.


06 - Alonso MUDARRA · ?-1580. Conde Claros · romance, instr.   [2:01]

07 - Juan VÁSQUEZ. Los braços traygo cansados (1560)   [2:37]
Romance de Don Beltrán

08 - Pues non me queréis   [1:04]
intb. Venegas de Henestrosa, Romance I

09 - Francisco PALERO. Mira, nero de Tarpeya   [1:50]
intb. Venegas de Henestrosa, Romance II

10 - Francisco GUERRERO · 1527-1599. Dexó la venda · madrigal   [1:54]


11 - Juan VÁSQUEZ · m. d. 1560. Quien amores tiene (1560)   [1:32]

12 - Juan de ANCHIETA · s. XVI. Dos ánades madre   [1:28]

13 - Al rebuelo de una garça (1557)   [1:33]
intb. Venegas de Henestrosa

14 - ORTEGA · s. XVI. Pues que me tienes, Miguel   [2:59]

15 - Pedro RIMONTE · c. 1600. Madre, la mi madre (1614)   [3:15]


16 - Diego ORTIZ · c.1510-?. Folia VIII (1553) · instr.   [1:50]

17 - Mateo FLECHA, m. 1553. La Gerigonza · baile cantado   [1:24]
intb. Miguel de FUENLLANA, 1554

18 - Antonio MARTÍN Y COLL · s. XVII. El villano   [1:55]

19 - De tu vista celoso · seguidillas de eco, cancionero de Sablonara, c.1600   [1:58]

20 - Antonio de SANTA CRUZ · s. XVII. Jácaras   [2:41]

21 - Mateo ROMERO · m. 1647. A la dulce risa del alva · folía   [2:11]

22 - Antonio MARTÍN Y COLL · s. XVII. Danza del hacha   [1:40]

23 - Juan ARAÑÉS · ?-?. A la vida bona · chacona (1624)   [1:44]

Hespèrion XX
Jordi Savall

Montserrat Figueras, Gesang
Jordi Savall, Renaissance-Diskant- und Baßgamben
Hopkinson Smith, Vihuela de mano, Renaissance-Gitarre
Ariane Maurette, Renaissance-Tenorgambe
Christophe Coin, Renaissance-Baßgambe
Lorenzo Alpert, Renaissance-Flöten, Schlaginstrumente
Gabriele Garrido, Schlaginstrumente

Aufgenommen: 10.-16.IX.1976, Kirche, Séon (CH)
Produzent: Gerd Berg
Tonmeister: Johann-Nikolaus Matthes
(P) 1977 EMI Electrola GmbH, D-5000 Köln
Digital remastering (P)1989 by EMI Electrola GmbH



The time of perhaps the most famous Spanish poet, Miguel de Cervantes, creator of the immortal Don Quixote, marked the cultural and political golden age of Spain. It was the era of the severe and austere Habsburg king Philip II (1556-98), his religious wars in Europe and his struggle against heterodox people, especially the Turks. And in the famous Battle of Lepanto (1571), which guaranteed Spain predominance in the Mediterranean again, the poet and soldier Cervantes lost his left hand. Spain responded to the religious controversies of the time with the Inquisition, which rigorously watched over literature and faith. During this period the famous Spanish mystic literature of Santa Teresa de Jesús and San Juan de la Cruz was written, out of deep religious belief. These were also the years in which Spain achieved her greatest territorial expansion and in which the immense riches from her overseas colonies streamed in; yet, apart from the luxurious but wasteful ornaments of a few splendid cathedrals and palaces, extreme poverty abounded, not only among the lower classes but also among the gentry, who often led a threadbare existence because they disdained manual work (as we can see from the picaresque novels of the time).

That was the official Spain of Cervantes. It is obviously reflected in the construction of the Escorial, the synthesis of palace and cloister, situated in the barren highlands opposite Madrid, which Philip II had founded and where he lived. But this rather harsh picture of Spain is incomplete if we forget the other, cheerful and popular Spain, with her manners and customs, her dances and songs.

Cervantes once said, "There is no Spanish woman who was not born to be a dancer". (Gran Sultana, III) And in the second book of Don Quixote (II, 622) the poet gives us a clear idea of the passion for dancing of the ladies at court. They whirl round the knight until he sits down in the middle of the hall, exhausted and heaving the memorable sigh. "Fugite, partes adversae".

The most popular dances of noble society were the almaña and gallarda, which were stepped rather than danced, in strained grace to the sound of instruments, with the gentleman leading the lady by gloves or a handkerchief.

In popular dance the vivid baile accompanied by castañuelas (castanets) dominated and displaced the solemn figurative danza more and more. Examples of purely popular dances are the caponia, danced by a single person, and the rastreado, which was distinguished by a furious tempo and vivid gesticulations. Much ink was spilt on the latest craze — the sarabande, whose "devilish sound" (as it is described in Cervantes' novella El celoso extremeño), was something new. According to some other reports it was invented in 1588 by an ill-reputed lady of Seville. The zarabanda was usually accompanied by amorous and satirical comic songs and was danced in this way at weddings and similar occasions. The castanets, guitar, timbrel, tambourine and bagpipe were the most important accompanying instruments. For the danza de cascabeles little jingles were worn at the ankle. Other dances, for instance the folías danced by travelling students and the seguidillas and serranillas, were accompanied by lyrics called by the same name. Besides these dances countless other forms of dances are recorded, all of which may be considered as popular spontaneous variations.

Every church festival was also an occasion for dancing. People even danced in church, in front of the altar. In this way festivals got their festive and happy character. It is quite natural, for example, that Cervantes' Gitanilla (little gipsy), in the short novel of the same title, should dance a villancico religioso — a religious dancing song — in front of the picture of St Anne to the sound of castanets and bells. And the countless processions held in honour of patron saints, on canonizations and beatifications, on transportations of relics or consecrations of monasteries and churches, especially every year at the feast of Corpus Christi, were not infrequently interrupted by frantic dances, while cannon-fire and fanfares accompanied the procession and liturgical singing alternated with instrumental music.

Besides these dances for individuals there were also the group dances of the guilds and professional dancers. The silk weavers danced the danza de los palillos, in which they carried small rods adorned with coloured ribbons. In the danza del cordón each of sixteen dancers who had formed a circle held a coloured ribbon which was fastened to a rod in the centre decorated with flowers held by a seventeenth dancer. There was the dance of swords — danza de las espadas — which involved a mock fight. Fancy-dress dances were also popular: such national events as the liberation from Moorish domination were represented choreographically. Last but not least among the group dances are the allegorical dances, with their didactic but amusing character. It is beyond doubt that the medieval Spanish art of dancing during the era of the Habsburgs was influenced by Arabic customs and traditions, though our knowledge in this area is still incomplete. But the English morris dances show how far north Spanish-Moorish forms of dancing advanced.

The Spanish comedia — the popular theatre of the golden age — used interpolated dances. In the opinion of some experts the folk-dances generally used were actually the centre of attraction on the Spanish stage. The noisiness and frenzy of these dances were actually the main reason for their being banned (nearly resulted in the ruin of the theatres). Finally, the baile also developed from dancing in the comedia into an independent dramatic dancing play. It is a kind of interlude with words completely or partly sung. Dance cannot be separated from song and sound because folk-music was nearly always either song or dance accompaniment. The guitar was the most popular domestic and folk instrument and a wealth of lyric poetry in short verses was set to music.

Besides the guitar, the harp, mandolin, timbrel and bagpipe were the most popular instruments. Composers, who were chapel singers, choirmasters or even chamber musicians at court, set to music the lyric poetry of famous and anonymous poets alike (Góngora, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Figueroa among them) romances, seguidillas, novenas, sestines, canciones and décimas. Well-known comic songs and love songs were sung and played not only at court but also by middle-class families and in the streets, according to a valuable song manuscript which a German prince took home from Spain (compiled between October 1624 and March 1625 by Claudio de la Sablonara for the Court Palatine and Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm von Neuburg, it is now in the Staatsbibliothek in Munich).

The use of common dance-song forms in the literature from the early 16th century shows us their increasing popularity. Cervantes' short novel La ilustre Fregona gives a perfect example: here a classical sonnet is accompanied by harp and vihuela, a professional musician sings a popular romance (the Spanish form of the ballade) and — a typical expression of song — there is spontaneous dancing. Dance, song and sound combine in popular as well as court music of the time, and they can only be adequately understood in terms of each other.

Ursula Vences

In Spanish music of the 16th and 17th centuries, Miguel de Cervantes is an inexhaustible source of references to the musical taste and life of the Spanish people. It is not only in Don Quixote but also in much else of his work that music constitutes an essential component (El celoso extremeño, La Gitanilla, La ilustre Fregona), whether as colour or to intensify the action (as in El Quijote, El rufián viudo, Persiles y Segismunda), or as an independent element used to link the different scenes (as above all in the comedias and interludes).

Cervantes takes music to be for the most part ennobling: many of his characters are musicians or in some way concerned with music. Let us quote the famous sentence Sancho Panza addresses to the duchess: "Madam, where you hear music, there cannot be any evil!' (Part 2, chap. XXXIV). Or Don Quixote's remark: "I want you to know, Sancho, that all or nearly all knights errant of bygone days were great poets and great musicians." (Part 1, chap. XXIII). Or Altisidora: "We will have to put down the lute for Don Quixote undoubtedly wants to make a music that cannot be bad since it comes from him!' (Part 2, chap. XLVI). So it becomes evident that Don Quixote also was a musician and perhaps had a talent for extemporising.

As to the diversity of Cervantes' style, we must also emphasize the musicality of his vocabulary, above all as far as important things are concerned. So, for example, Don Quixote calls his horse by the name of Rocinante, "in his opinion a majestic and melodious name", and his lady is called Dulcinea del Toboso, "to his mind a musical and miraculous name".

In all his works Cervantes gives us proof of his profound musical knowledge and, above all, his sympathetic musical understanding, which comes to the fore in the fascination the human voice exerts upon him: we often find that it sounds like a "bewitching chant", there is often "a voice singing in such a wonderful and lovely harmony that it fills you with amazement and makes you listen till the end." The best example is the character he created towards the end of his life: the singer Feliciana de la Voz, so called because she had "the best voice in the world" and astonished all her listeners when letting her voice take its course and singing" (Persiles y Segismunda, Vol. III, Chap. IV and VI).

Also most interesting are the descriptions Cervantes gives of musical instruments and their combinations. These are the string and keyboard instruments he mentions: rabel, guitar, vihuela, lute, harpsichord, psaltery, organ; wind instruments: flute, pifano, shawms (chirimia, albogue, dulzaina, churumbela), whistle, panpipe, gaita zamorana, trumpet, hunting-horns, trombone, bugle, trompeta bastarda, horns (cuerno, bocina, trompa de París); percussion instruments: tambourine, drum, pandero, jingle, tambor, castanets, cow-bells, ratchets etc. The musical works mentioned by Cervantes also give a great deal of information about the musical tastes of his time.

As to the numerous romances he mentions, the romances del Conde de Montalbán, Don Beltrán concerning the famous battle of Roncesvalles and the Moorish romance Abindarráez y Jerifa are included in this recording. Romances of the latter type were very popular and, for this reason, suppressed (like, for example, the Romance of the Moorish King who lost Alhama), to prevent the Moors from revolting.

Of the villancicos and songs Cervantes mentions, Madre, la mi madre and Tres ánades, madre are sung here.

Cervantes gives us a good description of the folk- and court-dances which were in fashion at the time, among them the
folía, canario, chacona, gallarda, jácara, moresca, seguidilla, villano, zarabanda and perra mora. Perra mora is the name of a dance which adopted the opening words of its original text for all later variations. A variety of the villano (literally "country dance") was also cultivated at court, as we may conclude from Cervantes' works. The folía (literally "mad, wild dance") as well as the zarabanda, seguidilla and chacona had been very wild dances in his time, but grew to be rather slow and moderate in the course of the 17th century, when they became popular almost throughout Europe (with the exception of the seguidilla, which was soon quite forgotten).

In trying to give a general view of the fascinating diversity of the secular music of Cervantes' time we have chosen pieces of great importance in this writer's work, not only by reason of their musical quality and historical significance, but also because of their evocative power and representative character. As regards the performance of these pieces, we have made allowance for the different historical, technical and stylistic elements typical of the period: not an easy task with music which was cultivated more than three centuries ago.

These are fundamental questions given the fact that these romances, songs and dances are the expression of the soul of a people of bygone days; as such they are a lasting expression which we today should be able to experience and understand not as a historical event, but as a reflection and crystallisation of a music that has no like or equal.

Jordi Savall