334 :: 21 December 2012 :: FLORES

 

On this Friday’s program, Richard Friedman celebrates the end of the 13th Baktun of the Mayan calendar, and the beginning of the 14th, with a new release from Maria de Alvear: Flores.

Flores - World-Edition 0019

Maria de Alvear: Flores (excerpts) (2003) - Maria de Alvear, Amelia Cuni, voices; Marco Blaauw, solo trumpet; Ensemble musikFabrik
World-Edition 0019 (2012)

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About Flores, Maria sent us the following notes:

As you might know, the Arabs remained in Spain for 800 years, creating a very sublime civilization for the ignorant catholic Spaniards. In this context Abd-al Rahman III was one of the most interesting Caliphs of Córdoba which is the birth city of my father. I am probably, from my father’s side, a third of an Iberian, a third Jewish and a third Arab. This situation is quite clear because I am able to go down my roots until the 15th century.

I was always fascinated by all the legends and the beautiful writings of the Arabian period in Córdoba. One of the most important subjects for Arabian civilization, as you know, is water, together with the Garden of Eden, and the garden as a symbol of paradise. Especially in dry regions like Andalusia there was always the inner garden of the soul as the outside garden of the buildings, as an equivalent of paradise. That’s why “Flores” talks about the garden in which animals and plants talk to each other, conveying their knowledge to each other. It is an allegory of the real knowledge that lives in nature, that connects us to the inherited gift that we have as human beings and to the real book of God, which is nature.

The symbol that you see on the cover of the CD means the presence of the female goddess which is the giving and caring goddess in the Iberian culture. The Iberos were the original inhabitants of south-east Spain. Their culture is incredibly rich. They were connected with the Phoenicians through trade with Greece and Carthage. Their religion was also influenced by the Egyptians, and their cult was Mithras-oriented. They were a people of the Orient. The bull and the horse were their major symbols; their main goddess was able to shift her shape from animals to flowers, and her symbol that you can find on pottery is the flower depicted on the CD cover. I was always deeply connected to her and very aware that, through my Spanish grandmother, I carry on the Ibero culture.

I decided that the music should be near to this oriental tradition – don’t forget that Carthage is in Tunesia, in close proximity of today’s Tunis, and that a lot of Spanish-Arabian singing (flamenco) has its roots in India. That’s why I decided to use more or less Indian scales for the thirteen sections, performed by the incredibly beautiful voice of Amelia Cuni who is a master of Indian Dhrupad singing, whereas I sing in a Mozarabic tune. Together with Amelia’s husband we created a system based on root notes that change from fifth to fifth following the circle of fifths and using Indian scales at the same time, as the basis of each root note. For the instruments, I decided that they play in a tempered scale and use completely noted scores, so that Amelia and me were free to work with harmonies or dissonances. The reason why Amelia sings in Italian is because I wanted her to articulate in her mother tongue – because that brought her more inside of the words.

To give you just a very poor translation of section VIII

The she-peacock:
Look how my beloved one sparkles in the sun
How his longing opens up into all directions
How his twigs tremble
Oh my beloved one
He is a tree, full of eyes and stars,
that walks, and his twigs whisper to me, tremblingly,
words of wild passion

The she-peppermint:
Strong is the elixir and vital
that you emit
Like me, you are medicine
My man whispers, too,
it is the wind, the air that helps them
mine and yours

The she-peacock:
It makes my heart smile
seeing your effort
his dance is exuberant and beautiful
Trembling, trembling,
and I feel the heat
For some moment I forget the sun

The she-peppermint:
Health is the green and blue light
The sky sounds
The shimmer speaks of the strenght of beauty

The she-peackock:
The song of my man is the mirror of my free spirit
it tells me: “look, how beautiful are those
who love themselves”

As you can see all these female beings love their men, and is an allegory of the inner soul in balance.

—Maria de Alvear (13 December 2012)

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