“Terres d'Espagne” – Music during reign of Philippe IV – Damien Colomb, organ – Editions Hortus

by | Nov 3, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews

“Terres d’Espagne” – Music of FRANCISCO CORREA DE ARAUXO, MANOEL RODRIGUES COELHO, PEETER CORNET and ABRAHAM CAN DEN KERCKHOVEN – Damien Colomb on the historic organ of Lorris in Gâtinas – Editions Hortus 081, 70:12 [Distr. by  Allegro] ****:
Recordings of classical organ music need to have something going for them to be attractive to buyers. Sonically, this stereo production is exceptionally well done with a well-defined clarity and an open, alive quality. The imaging is natural and the music is fascinating.
Here, the French label Editions Hortus offers a selection of music from  Terres d’Espagne (Spanish territories) during the reign of Philippe IV (known as “The Great” or the “Planet King,” 1605-1665). As the comprehensive notes (in French and English) explain, he was King of Spain and the Indies and King of Portugal and sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands.
As a patron of the arts, he supported the young Velázquez (whom he later ennobled), commissioned works from Rubens, Poussin and Stanzione and collected paintings from Raphael, Dürer, Tintoretto, etc. He was also a patron of literature and theater (Lope de Vega and Pedro Calderon de la Barca), as well as Spanish and foreign composers.
Editions Hortus has chosen works to illustrate the various forms of Tientos, Tento and Fantasia. Tientos are similar to a fantasia or fantasy. Tento is Portuguese for Tiento. A Fantasia has a feeling of improvisation or spontaneity, a work in free form. The similarities and differences of composition between the composers of Spain and Flanders are the point of this collection.
The Spanish are represented by Arauxo (1584-1654) with Tiento II de segundo tono, Cancion Gaybergier glosada and Tiento LIX de medio registro de tiple de Segundo tono.  Coelho (c.1555-c.1635) was Portuguese. The disc contains his Pange Lingua sobre o canto chao do tiple breves, Tento do terceio tom natural, and Tento do septimo tom natural.
Cornet (c. 1575-1633) was a Flemish composer. Included are his Fantasia ottavi toni, Aria del Granduca and Fantasia primi toni. Also from Flanders is Kerckhoven (c.1618-1701). Examples of his compositions comprise three Fantasias (en Do, en Ré and en Mi).
What struck me as fascinating were the color and tonal qualities of the organ of The Church of Our Lady of Lorris in Gâtinas which borders on the forests of Orléans. This historic 1501 organ, one of the oldest in Europe, was restored 1972-74 by Jean-Georges Koenig. Its history is remarkable. It is one of the few remaining instruments of its kind.
This one manual organ of 48 notes on the keyboard and 14 notes on the pedals is mounted in a swallow’s (or owl’s) nest on the south wall of the 12th century church. The organ has these stops: Montre 8′, Bourdon 8′, Prestant 4′, Nasard 2 ?’, Doublette 2′, Tierce 1 3/5′. It also has the following ranks: Fourniture III, Cymbale II, Trompette 8′, Voix Humaine 8′,  and Cornet V. There is a Tremblant doux. It is tuned to around 408 HZ. Many of the stops sound like hand-held wind instruments from the period and bizarre to modern ears.
Organist Damien Colcomb is a student of the Iberian organ, its construction and the music of the times. He is a specialist interpreter of 16th to 18th Century music. His performances on this disc are impeccable.
—Zan Furtwangler

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