CD - 2022

Music from Francesc Soler, Josep Gaz and Manuel Gònima.



Milagro patente
(Sense indicador de forma a l’original)



Constante anima el Cuidado
Quatro al Santísimo Sacramento



Oh que mandas de amor
Tiple solo. A la pasión de Jesús



Panem et vinum obtulit [Melchisedech]
Motete al Santísimo Sacramento, a solo



Amante avecilla
Quatro al Santísimo Sacramento




Corazones que ardéis
Quatro al Santísimo Sacramento



Lamentatio secunda: Lamed
Cum 2 vocibus. Feria VI in Parasceve



Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea
Motet a 3. Para la procesión del Jueves Sancto



Hoy, Amor, porque acierte la herida
Tono a 4 al Santísimo Sacramento



¿Qué disfraces son estos?
Tono a 4 al Santísimo Sacramento


10% of each piece

Baroque Girona Holy Week

   In this CD Música Antiga de Girona presents several Girona Holy Week compositions from the baroque period, specifically from 1682 to 1774. These compositions are from an epoch of almost one hundred years in which Girona was transformed from a town of craftsmen into a town of services with a remarkable urban growth from 4000 to 8000 inhabitants. This evolution saw the disappearance of warring among the nobility, common in Renaissance times, and was accompanied by the arrival of new religious orders bringing new humanistic perspectives: discalced Carmelites, Jesuits, Servites, Capuchins etc. The empowerment of ecclesiastical music following the Council of Trent not only renovated the cathedral music but also the music in the town's convents, who increased their requests to the cathedral music chapel. This renovation was accompanied by the suppression of theatrical performances,  which were often set to music, inside places of worship. 
   In the cathedral archives the lack of Easter compositions is surprising. This contrasts with the abundance of those dedicated to Christmas, although elsewhere for both Catholics  and Protestants alike Easter music was indeed important. 
   The works selected for this CD can be assigned to three types of liturgical celebration:  a) the forty hour service, which was a eucharistic celebration beginning on Palm Sunday evening and ending on Holy Tuesday morning;  b) the short procession of the keeping of the Holy Sacrament,  celebrated at the end of the holy Thursday mass; c) the Good Friday liturgy with the Office of Darkness. They were all sung in the cathedral except for two that were probably sung in the church of the Dolors congregation on the Friday before Palm Sunday. These are works with a penitential focus, one is by Gaz Oh que mandas de amor (Oh what bonds of love) and the other Milagro patente (Clearly a miracle), by Gònima.  
    Except for three works in Latin, the rest are Spanish poems that express the spirituality of the town's main groups: the Carmelite vision was the most modern. They distanced themselves from scholastic spirituality and compared the relationship of the believer with God to that of two lovers who trust in  love's power to overcome personal internal divisions. On the other hand, the scholastic or classical mentality, represented in Girona by the Dominicans and the Jesuits, emphasises human misery and the consequences of sin while urging the sinner to ask for forgiveness. Finally there is the spirituality of the Servites who try to convert sinners by emotional means and emphasise the harshness and the suffering of Jesus's Passion. All three spiritual paths refer to the faithful in an abstract way without ever indicating a specific group or person. 
   The predominant musical form is the "quatro", a composition that consists of four voices,  two of which are tiples. There is no bass but there is the continuous accompaniment of the positive organ, the cello and the lute.  This effective and economical musical form lasted for more than a century  in Girona.  It can be explained, on the one hand, by the cathedral school residence of the four choir boys, who were assigned the high voices, and, on the other hand, by the possible lack of competent bass singers in the town. Motete and  tono are the two other musical forms present in this CD: they are old and very  variable forms that disappeared in Girona at the  end of the XVII century with the arrival of Castilian villancicos at the time of the authors Soler and Gaz. At the beginning of the works by both Gaz and Gònima there is no instrumental accompaniment but there is a voice that was joined by the other singers. Together they expound the theme of the composition. Soler, on the other hand, begins with one vocal solo thus allowing us to understand the theme of the composition, which is then replicated by the other voices in polyphonic style. The two solos that we present could well reflect certain moments of economic difficulty in the music chapel. Either this was due to an economic  crisis like the one of  1761 that Gonima suffered, or it was caused by a military siege like the one that Gaz went through during the French invasion of 1694.
   The rhythmic sophistication, the combination of solos and choir, the subtle mixture of the different voices in the choir or solos, plus the use of new harmonies in certain works, explain why  Girona cathedral was the most important school of chapel masters during the second half of the XVIII century in  the whole of the  Peninsula. They were the fruit of a long tradition of excellent chapel masters from Soler to Gònima and including Gaz.
    The Castilian Spanish texts show the complexity of baroque poetry that displays innovative psychological analyses of the faithful's emotional balance in general and the sinner's in particular. The elaborate vocabulary makes one wonder for whom these intricate poems were meant. We do not know if all the texts are the work of the chapel masters who signed them or if other authors collaborated.

 1- Milagro patente (Clearly a miracle) 
This is a penitential Holy Week composition about the duality of human nature, being spiritual and material at the same time. There are images that poignantly convey the sinner's anguish, as he is fearful of not attaining divine mercy. This anguish is emphasized by the musical dissonances that end with a groan of despair followed by a plea for divine forgiveness. This spiritual focus was typical of the Dolors Congregation where it was probably interpreted during the spiritual exercises that the congregation holds every year on the Friday before Palm Sunday.  The alternating rhythms, the protagonism of the basso continuo plus the combination of soloists and tutti make for a successful composition, as can clearly be seen in the worn paper of the score pages. 

2 -  Constante anima el Cuidado (Care gives me no respite)
This is a penitential and eucharisitic composition that was probably meant for the 40 hour service which began on Palm Sunday evening and ended on Holy Tuesday morning. The text, which is remarkably philosophical, is based on the personnification of Worry (Cuidado), an allegorical character that encourages the repentant sinner to bear the heavy  burden resulting  from the consequences of his sins (de la cadena el peso altivo) and contrasts all human pleasure with the corresponding pain by means of a complicated text, common in baroque poetry. The words used – love, pleasure, fear, enjoyment – suggest carmelite spirituality where love is all powerful and is the most important means of salvation. It is difficult to see whether the author uses these concepts as an academic resource or whether, as the style of the poem suggests, he intends the listeners (most probably the bishop and his following among the authorities) to be moved to repentance.  From the musical point of view the work is a cantata that begins in polyphonic style without an instrumental introduction. The diverse voices alternate with solos, similar to a poetic recital. There is an aria that is also a solo. The neapolitan influence is evident and Gònima, its author, was a notable follower of the neapolitan style. The success of this composition can be seen in the worn out paper of the score's pages that have reached us. 

3- Oh qué mandas de amor (Oh what bonds of love)                                                  
This is an extraordinary text that describes an imaginary testament made by Jesus while nailed to the cross. This kind of composition is typical of the catechism techniques used in the baroque style and is similar to that used by Gaz himself in another villancico of a moralising nature – Al juego del hombre, Fabio– where a card game is used to demonstrate the dangers of female seduction. We do not  know in which circumstances it was used or why it is a solo soprano. This detail and the nature of the text would indicate that it was meant for the Dolors Congregation, since on the Friday before Palm Sunday this congregation celebrates its own spiritual exercises that include a musical part about Christ's passion. In Gonima's time this musical part gave place to several oratories, Amor y Dolor (Love and Pain) being one of them. It is possible that in previous years, in Gaz's time, instead of an oratory a villancico like the present one was used. It is hard to imagine that such a composition was sung in Girona cathedral owing to the liturgical rigidity of those times. 

4- Panem et vinum obtulit  ([Melchizedek] offered bread and wine) 
This is an extraordinary eucharistic motet in Latin. It joins two biblical texts from two different places and with no other connection except that of bread and wine, the two elements that, according to an ancient liturgical tradition, are the attributes of the Eucharist. We do not know when the composition was used: it could have been part of the 40-hour service or meant for the eucharistic celebration on Holy Thursday. The fact that it is a short solo could indicate that it was used in the small procession during the keeping of the Holy Sacrament after the Holy Thursday mass. The incitement to rapture and the power of friendly love point to a piece of work that is close to the discalced carmelite mentality. This would indicate the composition's destination as Gònima had an intense relationship with their convent in Girona. The experiments with new harmonies would suggest that it is one of the author's later works. 

5- Amante avecilla (Loving little bird)
This is an accomplished work that describes the suffering of the believer who searches for God and does not find Him easily. Its carmelite character can be seen in the usual imagery they employed to convey their spirituality: birds are a symbol of the human soul because of their freedom of movement. The mystical hunter is Jesus, who came to this world to save humanity and who proceeds by using the arrows of Love together with the consecrated communion wafer, that has the capacity to cause ecstasy in the believer.  The dialogue between the believer and the bird beautifully conveys the different moments experienced in the search for divine love. These moments are emphasized by the melody of the aria when it imitates bird song. The importance of the Carmelites in XVIII century Girona is a subject that needs more research since they represented one of the religious innovations in the town owing to their nonconformism, a contrast with the religious rationalism of other orders. This factor transformed their convent into a prestigious ecclesiastical nucleus of notable social influence. The musical form is also the cantata of neapolitan influence, lacking an instrumental introduction but cleverly alternating solos and choir, slow and fast rhythms, a recitative and an aria as well as the usual couplets of villancicos. The wormusical sheets indicate that it has been interpreted frequently.

6- Corazones que ardéis (Hearts that burn) 
This is  a eucharistic composition of distinct carmelite character. It was probably sung at the beginning of the 40 hours service, a solemn hour dedicated to the bishop and his following. The text  contains a few penitential allusions, albeit marginal ones, as there is a predominance of the typical carmelite spirituality: the arrow and the flame of love, love's pain, the groans of ecstatical love etc. The image where the stars are described as a loving God's tears is remarkable. The poem ends with an exhortation to ask for the forgiveness of our sins. It is worthy of remark that the plural form is always used in the text, both in the expository part and in the exhortation except in the two last verses where there is a plea for forgiveness. The musical structure is typical of Gònima with a preceding chorus, solo couplets, a recitative and an aria. This is an adaptation of the neapolitan cantata.

7- Lamentatio secunda: Lamed                (Second Lamentation) 
This is a composition with a Latin text that is a crude reflection on the causes of the conquering and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The razing of the Temple leads the author to conclude that the Jews' moral perversion was the cause of the city's ruin. The Holy Week liturgy uses this lamentation in order to make the faithful meditate on the consequences of sin using the coarse language of the prophet and the striking imagery characteristic of a siege. We can imagine the effect of this moralising work if we bear in mind that it was sung at half past six in the morning from the choir situated in the centre of the broad nave illuminated by candle light, the images covered by mauve cloths. Gaz accompanies this graphic imagery with music that is gentle yet sad and uses dissonances to highlight the sadness expressed in certain verses. 

8 Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea  (They shared out my clothes) 
This is a short composition by Francesc Soler, the chapel master who completely renovated the organisation of the cathedral music chapel and also created the musical archive. It was written for the short procession at the keeping of the Sacrament on Holy Thursday. The text unites three Latin phrases of different origins: on the one hand there is the sharing out of clothes mentioned in the 21st psalm. On the other hand are Christ's last words according to the evangelist Matthew plus the text of an antiphony from the Holy Saturday liturgy. All three refer to three successive moments in the passion of Jesus. The music is processional, solemn, homophonic, without changes in the rhythm, all of which facilitate a better understanding of the Latin text and is reminiscent of  the old style of Renaissance Easter music.

 9 Hoy Amor, porque acierte la herida ( Today, Love, in order to inflict a wound)
This is a eucharistic composition of a moralising nature that warns of the dangers of taking holy communion improperly. It is a typical composition from the  40 hour service and must have been performed before the bishop and his following. The text is a peculiar mixture of certain amatory  images typical of carmelite spirituality with rigor ( probably of French origin) that is more in keeping with scholastic spirituality. The poetic text abounds in contradictions, a typical baroque resource that aims to captivate the listener with enigmatic allusions and verses that would seem to be contradictory. This work  begins with a splendid polyphonic stanza that describes the believer praying and looking at the consecrated communion wafer on top of the altar while he examines  the  rectitude of his life, exactly as the Jesuits did in their spiritual exercises. The believer's scrutiny, deep inside himself yet at the same time directed at the Sacrament, is described as an arrow that, should it miss the target i.e. the mistakes of his bad behaviour, he will pay dearly for it,  (¡ay de mi si no doy en el blanco!) (Woe to me if I miss!).In the second part of all the stanzas the stylistic resource  “¡ay de mi!” ("Woe to me!") characteristic of baroque Castilian love poetry, is used. This resource was also used by the carmelite school. The rhythmic structure clearly indicates its antiquity. 

10  ¿Qué disfraces son estos?   (What disguises are these?)                               
This is a eucharistic composition also typical of the 40 hour service with a mixture of two kinds of spirituality - the carmelite and the traditional scholastic one - the same as in the previous work. Here too the highly elaborate chorus is solemn and after the initial solo the rest of the voices answer using the resources of baroque polyphony, later increased by the use of echo, especially in the odd numbered lines. This polyphonic elaboration allows the author to give the verses an exceptional variety in spite of the  obvious contrast between the development of the chorus and the simplicity of the couplets. The text shows a surprising familiarity with God and its philosophical concepts of space and the perception of reality are indicative of the author's high cultural level.

CD technical information

Laia Frigolé soprano I
Lorena Garcia soprano II
Hugo Bolívar contralt
David Hernández tenor
Daniel Regincós violoncel barroc
Albert Bosch llaüt barroc
Marc Díaz
Direcció i orgue positiu

Web site: Jesús del Oso