Cifras Imaginarias

Cifras Imaginarias
Musica para Tañer a Dos Vihuelas
Ariel Abramovich, Jacob Heringman
outhere A428. 53’21

Cifras ImaginariasThis recording does exactly what it says on the cover, recreating an imaginary books of vihuela duets in the style and manner of the sole surviving example of such a collection. There are many examples of music for two lutes from the 16th century, but only one for two vihuelas. To make up for that omission, Ariel Abramovich and Jacob Heringman have joined forces to arrange a variety of pieces for two vihuelas in the style of the mid-16th century.

This is a fascinating recording on several levels. Firstly, it is a real delight to listen to. The sound of the two instruments combines and matches perfectly. Abramovich and Heringman play as one with an impressive sense of togetherness, and the recording also brings the two players aurally together. Even with headphones, it is not easy to pick out which instrument is which. The nature of the music is such that this is important. Most of the pieces are arranged for alto and bass vihuelas, pitched a fourth apart, but there are also six for two alto vihuelas, and one each for an alto or bass solo.

They follow the practice of the time of intabulating existing, usually vocal, pieces for their own instruments. This was a notable feature of 16th century music, and was an important stage in the development of a true instrumental style. Much keyboard music of the period, for organ and stringed instruments, was of this type, and the style of adding ornaments and linking passages between notes formed the basis of later keyboard music. The importance of this practice is evidenced by the fact that in Hamburg, in the mid-17th century, an organist auditioning for a church post was expected to intabulate a choral work at sight.

That is another reason why this recording is so important. It contains excellent examples of the style of intabulations of composers such as Cabezón and Palero in Spain. Listening to these, played on such sympathetic sounding instruments, and by two equally sympathetic performers, reveals much about the development of the musical style of the period. The interweaving voices are crystal clear, and worth following. But you can also just sit back and let the beautiful sounds wash over you.

Further information, and a link to the excellent programme notes, can be found here.

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