Unriquited love, feelings of longing, shepherds, the countryside…these are the themes that can be found in the popular song known as the villancico. Today the word means Christmas carol in Spanish, yet from the 15th to 19th centuries it took on the broad range of the themes. One of the most famous collections of villancicos can be found in the late 15th century Cancionero de Palacio, which includes over 300, a good many by Juan del Encina.
A selection of villancicos can be found on the release Cancionero de Palacio: Juan del Encina and others, recorded in 2003 by the Capella del Ministrers under the direction of Carles Magraner.
Another collection of villancicos is found in the CD Calendas–El tiempo en las Catedrales, recorded in 2002 by Capilla Jerónimo de Carrión (Alicia Lázaro, dir.).
Spain and its colonies aren’t the only places where villancicos are found. One song collection in particular was discovered in Italy. Located today in Madrid, the Cancionero de Turín is an example of how popular the villancico had become in countries other than Spain. Nearly all of the songs in the cancionero remain anonymous.
Musica Ficta performs music from the Cancionero de Turín on their 2005 Enchiriadis label release Romances, villancicos y canciones del Siglo de Oro.
As the villancico was a Spanish invention it was only natural that it be imported to its American colonies. Examples are found all over Mexico, Central and South America by composers both Spanish and native born. Fine performances can be found in Maestros Andaluces en Neuva España, a 2004 CD release from the musicians of the Cappella Mediterránea (directed by Leonardo García Alarcón).
We move on to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in our new release this week from Channel Classics Records. The third installment of his complete sonatas for keyboard and violin are performed by the illustrious duo of Gary Cooper and Rachel Podger.