Big Sea II - Vija Celmins
Gran mar II - Vija Celmins
While preparing the posts of the last week and the previous one I thought about this week's post and how different those songs were about to listen today, written at the XXI century; it will be a shock to our ears, so used to the nineteenth century. I like these contemporaries jolts, they often pose a different musical language that compels us to listen in a different way. The song this week is very new and yet very old, and I also like that very much.

We could say that the cantigas are the equivalent to troubadour songs in Galician-Portuguese language (from where modern Galician and Portuguese derive). Generally speaking we can set three types of cantigas: de amor, de amigo and de escarño e maldizer. The first type sings courtly love, the poet addresses to his beloved lady; the third type is satirical, and the second one, which is our interest us today is also a love song but from a different point of view.

At the cantigas de amor the poetic voice is a woman (though the poet is a man) who longs for the man she loves and confides in other women or in nature. The best known cantigas de amor are those of Martin Codax, a very special set of seven cantigas because they're the only that survived with their music (except the sixth). Mr. Pedro Vindel, seller of antique books, found by chance a parchment with Codax' cantigas early in the 20th century. Can you imagine the excitement of finding such a treasure? There's not much information about Martin Codax; according to the texts of his cantigas, he probably was from Vigo. He also was cultured so he probably belonged to the courteous or clerical sphere. However, the most important is that we kept his work, from which there are many recordings.

Eduardo Soutullo composed his Cinco cantigas from the Cantigas de amigo by Martin Codax (he didn't compose the 4th and 5th); He wrote new music, of course, that's why I said before we simultaneously have a new and old song. He also reordered the poems and made the following sequence: E no sagrado, en Vigo, when the woman falls in love; Mandad'ei conmigo, the joy because the beloved let her know he's coming back home; Ondas do mar de Vigo, while waiting, Ai ondas que eu vin veer, the concern because the beloved doesn't arrive; and Mia irmana fremosa, where the young girl goes to the church to watch the storm, because her beloved will be there (I'm afraid we can't be too optimistic).

I chose to listen on that post the fourth Cantiga, Ai ondas que eu vin veer, where the girl asks the sea why it take so long time to her beloved to come back and we can hear her anguish at the vocal line. We understand the man is sailing, so the sea, the natural element in which the girl confides in these cantigas, becomes more than a neutral character. She doesn't ask a rhetorical question, the sea has something to say about it. And what he says, according to the piano, is not good; If we add the sadness flowed by the girl's voice at the words "sen min" (without me) that finish the song, I can't help but thinking that the man never will return. This interpretation of the song, like any other that I do, is very personal and it might have been misconstrued; however, this time, if the composer reads it and thinks this is a complete nonsense he'd be very welcome to say his opinion, and I will be really very grateful.

These Cinco cantigas were premiered on 25th April 2012 in Vigo, performed by Maria Ruiz and Carlos Enrique Perez; the programmers were the Amigos de la Ópera de Vigo (Friends of the Opera in Vigo), who also released an album with the recital. What a good job at spreading music these associations do! (the Amigos de la Ópera de Vigo, the Asociación aragonesa de la ópera "Miguel Fleta", the Amigos da Opera de Santiago de Compostela or the Asociación Musical Alfredo Kraus from Bilbao, all of them Friends of the Opera, I wouldn't like any of my friends to get angry at me!). Last October, I was invited to a conference in Vigo and there, I met the composer Eduardo Soutullo; then, I didn't know anything about his songs, if I had known something I wouldn't have been that cautious and would have asked him tons of questions (maybe that's why they didn't say anything about them until the the next day).. It was a pleasure meeting Eduardo and my other friends in Vigo and now, it's also a pleasure to share with you this cantiga.
Ai ondas que eu vin veer

Ai ondas que eu vin veer,
se me saberedes dizer
por que tarda meu amigo
sen min.

Ai ondas que eu vin mirar,
se me saberedes contar
por que tarda meu amigo
sen min.

I found an English translation of the Cantigas de amigo by Rip Cohen at this link; you can find Ai ondas que eu vin veer at the end of the page 188 (Martin Codax 7)
I'm adding the talk between Arturo Reverter, a musical journalist, and the composer Eduardo Soutullo the day before the premiere of the Cinco Cantigas, a talk also organized by the Amigos de la Ópera de Vigo. They talk about the songs from around 35' on; the soprano María Ruiz participates from the audiend.  You can listen to the five cantigas at the same Youtube Channel.

Comments powered by CComment

Liederabend website uses technical cookies, essential for the operation of the site, and analytics cookies that you can disable.