Cantigas de Santa Maria  /  Zespůł Muzyki Dawnej 'Scandicus'

XIII w. / 13th c. |
Accord  ACD 285



1. Prologo - Porque trobar  [4:36]   Prologo B
voice AM SW, oud SW, medieval fiddle TD, symphonia JK, recorder PF, bendir SW

2. Como poden  [3:46]   CSM  166
voice AM, oud SW, medieval fiddle TD, recorder PF, bendir JK

3. Madre de Deus  [6:30]   CSM  422
voice AM, Romanesque harp PF, oud SW, symphonia JK

4. Dized', ai trobadores  [2:45]   CSM  260
voice AM, citole PF, medieval fiddle TD, bendir SW

5. Aquela que a seu Fillo  [6:09]   CSM  258
voice JK SW, oud SW, medieval fiddle TD, recorder PF, bendir AM

6. Alegría, alegría  [5:02]   CSM  425
voice AM, oud PF, medieval fiddle TD, bendir SW

7. Ontre toda las vertudes  [6:15]   CSM  323
voice AM, Romanesque harp PF, medieval fiddle TD, oud SW

8. Santa María amar  [5:29]   CSM  7
voice AM TD, Romanesque harp PF, oud SW, symphonia JK

9. Miragres fremosos  [3:40]   CSM  37
voice AM, oud PF, medieval fiddle TD, bendir JK, riq SW

10. Ai, Santa Maria  [2:38]   CSM  79
voice AM, citole PF, symphonia JK, bendir SW

11. Rosa das rosas  [5:53]   CSM  10
voice AM, oud PF, symphonia TD, bendir SW

12. Santa Maria, valed', ai Sennor  [4:20]   CSM  279
voice AM, citole SW, medieval fiddle TD, recorder PF, bendir JK

13. Quantos en Santa Maria  [5:29]   CSM  66
voice SW, Romanesque harp PF

Zespół Muzyki Dawnej / Early Music Ensemble
artistic direction: Piotr Flis

Agnieszka Mucha — voice (1-4, 6-12), bendir (5)
Tymoteusz Dorda — voice (8), medieval fiddle (1, 2, 4-7, 9, 12), symphonia (11)
Jakub Kabus — voice (5), bendir (2, 9, 12), symphonia (1, 3, 8, 10)
Piotr Flis — Romanesque harp (3, 7, 8, 13), recorder (1, 2, 5, 12), oud (6, 9, 11), citole (4, 10)
Slawomir Witkowski — voice (1, 5, 13), oud (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8), citole (12), bendir (1, 4, 6, 10, 11), riq (9)

Recorded in the Church of St Martin in Tarnowskie Gory, 27-31.08.2018
Recording producer, editing, mastering: Piotr Grabowski
Editor: Agnieszka Kurpisz
English translations: Tomasz Zymer
Photos: Jakub Kabus
Graphic design: Natalia Binda-Kiszczak, Anna Kanclerz

ACD 285 © 2018 Zespół Muzyki Dawnej SCANDICUS ℗ 2021 CD Accord   e-mail:
Distributed in Poland by Universal Music Polska
Worldwide distribution by Naxos

Cantigas de Santa Maria

Alfonso X the Wise, king of Castile and Leon (1221-1284), went down in history as a great patron of learning and art. It is under his reign that the more than 400 songs jointly referred to as Cantigas de Santa Maria were written. They offer an extraordinary glimpse of the medieval cult of Mary, as reflected in music and poetry.

The songs have been preserved with music notation in several richly decorated and illustrated codices, one of which contains numerous scenes from tales which are narrated in the cantigas. Another manuscript shows musicians playing various instruments whose reconstructed versions can be heard on our CD. The singers are accompanied here by a medieval fiddle, oud, Romanesque harp, citole, symphonia, recorders, as well as percussion instruments. Some of the compositions on this album have been in the ensemble's repertoire for years, while others have been specially selected and prepared for this recording, in order to represent the multiplicity of musical and literary forms among the cantigas.

The entire collection of Cantigas de Santa Maria is preceded in one of the codices by a prologue whose author explains what knowledge and skills a person wishing to praise Mary in songs needs to possess. Such persons entrust themselves and their work to God and express their hope to become troubadours worthy of His Mother.

Some of the songs have been attributed to Alfonso X himself. In Santa Maria, valed', ai Sennor (Cantiga 279), the king beseeches the Virgin: "Holy Mary, come to my rescue and help your troubadour, for I have fallen ill and suffer greatly!" Being cured from an illness is a very frequent motif in the cantigas. Cantiga 37 tells the story of a man whom extreme pain led to cut off his own foot. All aching, he fell asleep in front of Mary's altar. She cured him. On waking up, he rejoiced and hastened to spread the news of the miracle. Similarly, in Cantiga 166 we read about a person who was healed, repented and compensated for the wrongs done by offering precious wax to the church.

Another story, in Cantiga 7, exemplifies Mary's interventions at a repentant sinner's request. An abbess broke her chastity vows and got pregnant. Other nuns inform the bishop about it, but she avoids consequences since in her sleep angels headed by Mary assist in the baby's delivery and take it to another place to be brought up.

In Ontre toda las vertudes (Cantiga 323), a father running away from a Moorish invasion to save his life leaves behind the body of his deceased son whom he had no time to bury. On his return to the village, he finds his household intact among the charred ruins, and it turns out that the boy has been resurrected. Aid in a hopeless situation is also the subject of Cantiga 258, where during a famine a woman shares the remnants of bread dough with the poor, but Mary miraculously multiplies the dough.

In Ai, Santa Maria (Cantiga 79) we meet a careless girl named Musa, who saw Mary attended by beautiful maidens in her dream and wished to join them. She was promised that she would be admitted to Mary's retinue in thirty days' time if she changed her life and overcame her pride. The parents were astonished by the change in their daughter's behaviour. Soon afterwards she fell ill and died when her appointed time came. Mary then came to summon her to join the holy maidens.

Every tenth of the songs is a cantiga de loor or hymn of praise, extolling Mary's virtues. As in the courtly troubadour songs, Cantiga 10 compares Mary to a rose of perfect beauty, while in Cantiga 260 the subject asks: "Tell me, troubadours, why do you not praise the Lady of all Ladies?"

Among the numerous songs, there are also cycles dedicated, for instance, to Marian feast days, whose themes differ slightly from the rest. For instance, Cantiga 422 implores Mary for her intercession on Judgment Day, whereas Cantiga 425, from the series of songs for holidays dedicated to Jesus, is an Easter song which refers to Gospel scenes following Christ's resurrection.

The collection also comprises hagiographical motifs, as in Cantiga 66, in which Mary appears to Saint Bonitus. That holy bishop receives the gift of a vestment in which he can celebrate the Holy Mass, attended by Mary and an entire procession of the saints.

Piotr Flis

Early Music Ensemble 'Scandicus'

Music Ensemble 'Scandicus' specialises in medieval, mostly vocal music. Its repertoire comprises both sacred and secular songs from such various collections as the Laudario di Cortona, Cantigas de Santa Maria, and Llibre Vermell. The instruments include medieval fiddle, recorders, Romanesque harp, citole, lute, symphonia, as well as percussion: riq and bendir.

The ensemble gives concerts in Poland and abroad. It has taken part in such events as the 'Salve Regina' International Sacred Music Festival in Wigry, the 4th International Martin Agricola Festival in Swiebodzin, and the 4th International Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki Early Music Festival in Bytom. The musicians also perform in museums and at celebrations of historical events.

HoM Theatre's spectacle La Rosa, featuring 'Scandicus' ensemble, received an honourable mention for its musical setting at the 37th Tychy Theatrical Encounters (2010).

In 2008 the Multikulti label released 'Scandicus' CD Laudario di Cortona. Their second album, Bryd one brere, came out in 2013 under the Folkers label and comprises 13th-century secular songs. Their recordings have been presented by radio broadcasters in Poland.