Cantigas / Paul Hillier · Theatre of Voices
Martin Codax · Jaufre Rudel · Dom Dinis
Harmonia Mundi HMX 290 7378-79


CD 1
Songs of Martin Codax and Jaufre Rudel

Cantigas de Amigo by Martin CODAX
fl. c. 1230

1. Prelude  [3:29]  psaltery
2. Ondas do mare de Vigo  [2:47]   ca  I
3. Mandad' ei comigo  [2:05]   ca  II
4. Mia irmana fremosa  [2:10]   ca  III
5. Ai Deus se sab'ora meu amigo  [3:15]   ca  IV
6. Quantas sabedes amare amigo  [1:36]   ca  V
7. En'no sagrado en Vigo  [0:59]   ca  VI
8. Ai ondas que eu vin veere  [1:44]   ca  VII
9. Postlude  [3:57]  harp

Six Songs by Jaufre RUDEL
fl. mid. 12th century

10. Quan lo rius de la fontana  [8:17]  with harp
11. Pro ai del chan essenhadors  [5:25]  with psaltery
12. Lanquan li jorn son lonc en mai  [6:01]   LLJ
13. Belhs m'es l'estius e·l temps florit  [5:04  with harp
14. No sap chantar qui so non di  [7:13]  with harp
15. Quan lo rossinhols el follos  [9:13]  with psaltery
16. Dansa. Instrumental Postlude  [4:54]  psaltery

Paul Hillier, voice
Andrew-Lawrence King, psaltery, harp

CANTIGAS from the Court of Dom Dinis

1. Porque ben Santa Maria sabe os seus dões dar  [6:35]   CSM  327
2. Par Deus, ai dona Leonor  [4:48]   Roi PAES de RIBELA · music: CSM  230
3. Un cavalo non comeu  [2:46]   Joan GARCIA de GUILHADE · music: CSM  190
4. Non quer' eu donzela fea  [3:46]   AFONSO X, o SÁBIO · music: CSM  231
5. Fois'o meu amigo a cas d'elrei  [4:50]   Joan AIRAS de SANTIAGO · music: CSM  339
6. Quand'eu vejo las ondas  [3:59]   Roi FERNADES de SANTIAGO · music: CSM  218
7. Muitas vezes volv'o demo  [5:18]   CSM  198

Sete cantigas d'amor de D. Dinis
8. I. Pois que vos Deus, amigo, quer guisar  [4:06]
9. II. A tal estado m'adusse, senhor  [4:47]
10. III. O que vos nunca cuidei a dizer  [6:00]
11. IV. Que mui gran prazer que eu ei, senhor  [5:52]
12 V. Senhor fremosa, non poss'eu osmar  [5:51]
13. VI. Non sei como me salv'a mha senhor  [6:13]
14. VII. Quix ben, amigos, e quer'e querrei  [4:51]

Paul Hillier, voice
Margriet Tindemans, vielle

Shira Kammen, vielle
Daniel Kennedy, percussion
chorus in the CSM: Hugh Davies, Tom Hart, Neal Rogers

Front cover: Illustration from a manuscript of the songs of Guillaume de Machaut,
Ms. fr. 22545, f. 162v / Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.
All texts and translations © harmonia mundi usa

© ℗ 1995, 2000, 2006 harmonia mundi usa

February 16, 1994 (CD1 — Codax cantigas);
April 5, 1996 (CD1 — Cantigas prelude & postlude) &
February 14-16, 1994 (CD2) at Skywalker Sound,
a division of Lucas Digital, LTD, LLC, Nicassio, California.
October 1-2, 1998, at Le Domaine de Forget Charlevoix, Françoys-Bernier Concert Hall,
St. Irénée, Quebec, Canada (Rudel Songs CD1).
Executive Producer: Robina G. Young
Sessions Producers: Brad Michel (CD 1) / Robina Young & Dr. Manuel Pedro Ferreira (CD2)
Recording Engineers: Johanne Goyette (CD 1) & Brad Michel (CD2)
Editor: Paul F. Witt (CD 1) & Brad Michel (CD2)
Booklet Layout: Scarlett Freund & Isabela Klaus

Distant Love • Songs of Martin Codax & Jaufre Rudel

Amor de loing: invented by the 12th century troubadour Jaufre Rudel, this magic formula still haunts our imagination. The poet-composers known as troubadours flourished in Southern France beginning around 1100. They wrote in the Romance tongue of their geographical area, the langue d'oc, now called Old Provençal or Old Occitan. They elaborated poetic themes and forms that would later characterize the European love song, following a concept of lyric that brought words and music together in a single work of art.

Little is known about Jaufre Rudel. He was of noble birth, lord of Blaye in southwestern France. It is generally agreed that he took part in the crusade of 1147-48 and reached the Holy Land, but there is no record that he returned to his native land. He is the earliest troubadour from whom we have a significant number of melodies: six poems and four melodies.

But the real Jaufre Rudel fades before the legend. The legend began with a 13th century biography, or vida, relating the trip to the Holy Land. Short biographies accompany troubadour songs in some manuscripts, offering a mixture of reliable fact and wild fancy. Jaufre Rudel's vida places one of his songs, "Lanquan li jorn son lonc en mai (When the days are long in May)", in the context of crusade, claiming the poet undertook the journey not for love of God but for love of a lady: the Countess of Tripoli. He fell in love with her, so the story goes, without seeing her, and in the end, died in her arms. The superb "portrait" of Jaufre Rudel and the Countess illustrating the vida in one Italian manuscript captured the rapt adoration that is a crucial characteristic of distant love:

Jaufre Rudel's songs, all belonging to the genre of the canso, or love song, do not speak of any specific woman. The Old Occitan word for "lady," dompna, so frequently encountered in the troubadour lyric is absent from his poems. He sings instead of love unattained and unattainable, creating an evocative amalgam of spiritual and physical desire. And for Jaufre Rudel, as for other troubadours, the art of love is the art of composition. "The song is good," he tells us, "carefully crafted and rehearsed." His melodies are subtly varied within a general structure of large-scale repetitions: A-A-B. Distant love is not only unrequited longing but also supreme artistry.

Of the life of Martin Codax, who flourished nearly a century later than Jaufre Rudel, almost nothing is known. He likely lived in the coastal town of Vigo, situated above Portugal in Galicia. We owe knowledge of his music to the chance discovery in 1913 of a manuscript — a single leaf tucked away in the binding of a book — by a Madrid bookseller, Pedro Vindel, which is now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. This discovery has allowed us to savor the earliest group of vernacular songs from the Iberian peninsula.

Martin Codax cultivated the cantiga de amigo, the "song of a (boy)friend." Although this poetic genre can be loosely situated in the Galician-Portuguese troubadour tradition, the cantiga de amigo is thought to be indigenous to the Iberian peninsula and related to the archaic European tradition of women's songs. The point of view in Codax's cantigas is that of a girl from Vigo looking out over the sea, longing for a lover who does not come. But the songs were composed and probably sung by a man.

The language of the cantigas de amigo was Galician-Portuguese (or Gallego-Portuguese), a Romance tongue and, like Old Occitan, a prestigious vehicle for poetry. Later in the 13th century, it would be adopted by Alfonso the Learned for his magnificent collection of Las Cantigas de Santa Maria. All Codax's cantigas have the same form (suggesting they might have been a song cycle) and this form is different from that of the troubadour canso. Its characteristic features are parallelism and the use of a refrain. Ideas unfold in two parallel lines, the couplet, which are then followed by the refrain. In succeeding stanzas, initial portions of lines are repeated with the end (rhyming word) changed, followed again by the refrain. Melodic means are simple and also make generous use of repetition. This creates an intricate series of recurrences to express an obsessive preoccupation with the absent friend. As the repetition of amor de loing in Jaufre Rudel's song, so the reechoing lines of Martin Codax's cantigas mirror in its very essence the unending desire for distant love.


Cantigas from the Court of Dom Dinis

DOM DINIS (1261-1325), King of Portugal from 1279, was as renowned for his love of  Galician-Portuguese troubadour song as for his progressive policies. A troubadour himself, Dom Dinis encouraged song-making and rewarded new talent; his own songs (cantigas), of which 137 texts survive, earned him more than justified acclamation from his peers and from future generations of poets. It was during his reign that the impressive Cancioneiro da Ajuda was compiled; later documents tell us about other volumes from the King's household, now unfortunately lost — a songbook containing Dinis's secular songs, and another containing cantigas in honor of Mary. A grandson of Alfonso X the Learned, King of Castile and Leon, the outstanding poet and compiler of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, he was his grandfather's true heir where poetry, music and culture are concerned; at his court all the genres and tendencies of troubadour song were to be found.

The Galician-Portuguese Troubadour Tradition

Galician-Portuguese is the romance language spoken in Westernmost Europe, the Atlantic coastal strip of the Iberian Peninsula: Galicia, in the north (now part of Spain), and Portugal, an independent nation since the early 12th century. For historical and linguistic reasons, Galician-Portuguese was also the standard poetic language in the Leonese and Castilian kingdoms (North-Central Spain) up to the 14th century.

The troubadour tradition in the Western and Central Hispanic areas has a double origin: that of Southern French troubadours in aristocratic circles in the area immediately to the East of the Road to Santiago, and the strong Galician tradition rooted in local song-making, a consequence of the religious importance of Santiago de Compostela. From these two sources an original approach to courtly song came into being; between the late 12th and the mid-14th centuries, authors of different social backgrounds composed hundreds of secular cantigas of different genres, of which about 1680 texts have survived. To these poems may be added more than 400 songs dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the well-known Cantigas de Santa Maria compiled at the court of Alfonso X.

Unfortunately, most of the music for secular cantigas perished in the centuries that followed the demise of the tradition, around the year 1350. Only two documents are known to survive: the Vindel MS, a single, folded leaf found in 1913 by the Madrid bookseller Pedro Vindel; and the Sharrer MS, a fragment from a Portuguese Cancioneiro found in 1990 by the California-based Professor Harvey Sharrer. Both manuscripts were probably written in the late 13th century. The Vindel MS, now at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, contains music for six of the seven songs by Martin Codax, a Galician minstrel active in the mid-13th century. The Sharrer MS, kept at the Torre do Tombo in Lisbon, has musical notation for seven compositions by the Portuguese King Dom Dinis.

The situation is completely different with the Cantigas de Santa Maria: almost all of them survive with music, found in three medieval codices. Like the Vindel and Sharrer MSS, the C.S.M. codices have an extraordinary interest for the quality and originality of their musical content; the semi-mensural character of the musical notation in these sources allows for a relatively safe rhythmic transcription and hence for added authenticity in melodic performance.

Cantigas de Amigo

The songs by Joan Airas and Roi Fernandes de Santiago, as well as those by Martin Codax, belong to the genre "cantiga de amigo". This kind of cantiga was composed and generally sung by a man; it was nevertheless supposed to convey the feelings and thoughts of a young woman longing for her absent boyfriend. The poet tended to use an archaic technique known as "parallelism", which called for the presentation of the same idea twice in alternating lines, with slightly different wordings. The stanzas were short and were generally followed by a refrain; the refrain was not meant to be choral, and may have been freely rendered by the singer.

The music for the cantiga Fois'o meu amigo a cas d'elrei (ed. Rodriguez) by Joan Airas de Santiago is based on C.S.M. No. 339; the melody for Quand'eu vejo las ondas (ed. Tavani) by Roi Fernandes de Santiago is taken from C.S.M. 218. Both poets came from Santiago de Compostela and were contemporaries of Alfonso the Learned.

Cantigas de Amor

The cantiga de amor is the Galician-Portuguese version of the Provençal canso — the most aristocratic of song genres — but is generally shorter and often includes a refrain; the content tends to be more abstract and conventional than its French counterparts. Dom Dinis was famous for his impeccable technique and rich literary imagination; he is known to have composed 73 cantigas de amor, of which only seven have survived with music. The manuscript which records these melodies is unfortunately seriously damaged, and as a consequence the first modern performance of the complete songs after their discovery in 1990 had to await painstaking transcription and reconstruction work, completed in 1993 by Sharrer and Ferreira; in the cantigas 6 and 7 two entirely new musical phrases, marked by their use of the B-flat, had to be inserted. The music is unusually melismatic, and has a large number of ornamental notes. Modal rhythm was sparingly used, being found in syllabic passages, the most important principle being that of approximate equal duration for each syllable carrying more than one note.

The cantiga de amor Par Deus, ai dona Leonor (ed. Michaëlis de Vasconcellos) by Roi Paes de Ribela, a troubadour active in the second half of the 13th century, was set to music from C.S.M. 230, which has the same florid isosyllabism found in Dom Dinis; the beginning recalls the style of Martin Codax.

Cantigas de Escarnio e Mal-dizer

The third most important genre in Galician-Portuguese lyricism was that of satirical song: cantigas de escárnio (oblique criticism) or mal-dizer (open criticism, with frequent use of obscene words). Alfonso X seems to have particularly enjoyed satire, and tried his own hand at it, as illustrated here by Non quer'eu donzela fea (ed. Lapa), a cantiga de mal-dizer directed against an ugly woman who enjoys farting. The melody is taken from C.S.M. 231. Another satirical song, Un cavalo non comeu by his contemporary Joan Garcia de Guilhade, fits the music for C.S.M. 190 exactly; the text, an escárnio with hidden erotic meaning, is based on Lapa's edition, slightly modified.

Cantigas de Santa Maria

The Cantigas de Santa Maria compiled in the court of Alfonso the Learned are, unlike the secular cantigas, mostly narrative, and tend, also uncharacteristically, to adopt the formal features of the Andalusian zajal, a moorish song inspired by old Hispanic traditions. They generally call for a choral repeat of the refrain after each stanza, but some of them seem to have dispensed with it. Although composed in the Castilian court between 1264 and 1284, their language is Galician-Portuguese; Galician and Portuguese troubadours were at the service of Alfonso. 25 cantigas narrate events which had occurred in Portugal (three additional cantigas also refer to Portuguese people). The Marian Sanctuary of Terena (Alandroal, Évora) accounts for twelve cantigas; Terena, Elvas (two songs), Évora, Odemira and Estremoz are all located in Alentejo (south of the river Tagus, north of the Algarve). It might be significant that King Dinis's brother, prince Alfonso, who was a landlord in the Alentejo, lived in the Castilian court in 1281, at the time of the final additions to the Marian collection. Other cities referred to in the C.S.M. are Lisbon and the strategically important city of Santarem, both by the Tagus, and Faro in the Algarve, the southern-most part of the country, a Christian city known for its devotion to Mary even during the five centuries of Arab rule. Only two cantigas refer to events north of the Lisbon area.

The valuable musical edition of the C.S.M. made by the Catalan musicologist Higinio Angles is usually retained by performers; yet, since his transcriptions of cantigas 198 and 327 mirror some misunderstanding of the original notation, they have been corrected accordingly. The texts have been taken from Walter Mettmann's edition.

The musical adaptations of the C.S.M. to secular texts follow the rules of musical contrafactum as explained in a fragmentary medieval treatise appended to one of the Galician-Portuguese Cancioneiros; the transcriptions are based on the MSS and published by Ferreira in an Appendix to his book on Martin Codax (Lisbon, 1986).