Ministriles Novohispanos

La Danserye publishes its first compact disc dedicated to “Ministriles Novohispanos” (Wind Bands of the New World), a monographic CD with works from the Choirbook XIX (MS 19) of Puebla de los Ángeles (México)

The presence of “ministriles” (wind bands) of European origin in the Viceroyalty of New Spain dates back to the arrival of Hernán Cortés. It is documented in the chronicle of Cristobal de Pedraza (Honduras bishop) that Cortés used to bring wind band ensembles in his expeditions. In 1524, Cortés arrived to the present territory of Honduras during an expedition, accompanied by 300 soldiers and 5 “ministriles”, who played shawms, sackbuts and “dulzainas”. Since the arrival of Spanish expeditions to the New World, the wind bands groups were part of the new musical chapels, created in the image and likeness of the Spanish, with some differences originated by the implementation of these new chapels in the New World.

In this context, the research of musical sources used by wind bands in the New World is of the utmost importance to characterize the performance practice of these groups. There are very scarce sources of instrumental music for wind bands in the New World. The MS 19 from Puebla de los Angeles Cathedral (México) remains until today as the only manuscript for wind bands use located in the cathedrals of the New World. This manuscript is the subject of this recording. The manuscript is not dated, but it is agreed that probably match with the choirbook presented to the council by José de Burgos in 1672.

 Canción, 5vv - Philippe Rogier (ca. 1561-1596)         

This recording is organized by musical genres, as in the manuscript in three main categories: liturgy works for Divine Office (fabordon, hymns); the polyfunctional motets; and secular and religious works in vernacular, from Spanish and European authors (chansons, villanelles and madrigals). We selected for this recording the “unica” works together with other representative works of less known authors or singular works, trying to make a diverse and illustrative selection of the manuscript.

Canción, 5vv - Philippe Rogier (ca. 1561-1596)         

This recording has some special characteristics derived from the experimental nature of the performance practice from a historically informed perspective. It is at the same time the recording and the sonorous testimony of an experience that took place in a specific time and space, with the aim of achieving an almost genuine sound. During the recording the “ministriles” played directly from a facsimile edition of the original manuscript. Playing directly from facsimile (without transcription) entails some skills beyond the technique, as the developed by editors in transcriptions. This means that players have to take decisions about transposition, musica ficta, score mistakes, etc., as well as great patience to get the coordination between players with the absence of measure bars. Therefore this is a completely different way to conceive, understand and hear the repertory, with a free phrasing, candences without ritardandos, absence of extemporaneous improvisations and contained ornamentation.

Motete Iste Sanctus - Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)         

The instrumental combinations are determined by the repertoire character in basis of historical criteria. This criteria is extracted from documentary references to wind bands practice in council records and Hispanic cathedral ceremonials books from XVIth and XVIIth centuries and theoretical treatises (Melopeo y Maestro, Pietro Cerone, 1613 or Escuela Música, Pablo Nasarre, published later in 1723-24 but reflecting an early practice). The instrumental combinations performed by La Danserye (a total of 13 different combinations) are of two kinds: whole, with the same type of instrument played in consort (recorders and crumhorns) and broken, mixing different types of instruments. The broken consorts combine different timbres, some of them of difficult filling if not played properly (shawms with sackbuts; cornetts with sackbut and dulcians; mute cornetts with dulcians and sackbuts; etc.), trying to get the widest sound variety. We opted not to include percussion instruments, so often included in modern recording of this music but so far from the original performance practice.

Batalla (parte 2) - Clément Janequin (ca.1485-1558)        

This CD was recorded in the Chapter Room of the Jaen Cathedral, a rectangular beautiful place built by the architect “Andrés de Vandelvira” in 1566. This room has a barrel vault that provides a natural resonance which constitutes the natural enviroment of the wind bands instruments. Other characteristic of this recording resides in the performers themselves, the four Pérez Valera brothers, a family saga similar to the early wind bands companies. The Pérez Valera family started their learning in these instruments like the old ways: they began in his childhood in an intuitive way, learning music directly playing the repertoire, building the recorders and cornetts and learning how to play indiscriminately all wind instruments, so much to handle them with skill despite their different techniques and embouchures.
The impression and sound of this recording has much to do with the recreation of the lost performance practices, resulting in a fresh and distinctive version that simply intend to provide an alternative aesthetic to the already scarce recordings of such existing repertoire.

Finally, the present CD, the first dedicated to the XVIth century in the series “El patrimonio musical hispano” (Hispanic musical heritage) published by SEdeM (Spanish Society of Musicology) intend to be a tribute in time and distance to a collective so socially punished and disgraced as musically demanded: the “ministriles”.

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