Ex Cathedra, Jeffrey Skidmore (conductor)
‘For fire burning in snow is the effect of love’. The final line of Juan de Araujo’s Dime, amor gives this recording its title and conjures up the passion and dramatic contrasts which make this disc such a delight.
Araujo has been described by many commentators as the greatest Latin American composer of the age, although much of his music is still rarely performed. Little is known about the man (he was a disruptive student in Lima and involved in litigation in La Plata), and there is almost certainly more material to uncover. He was born in Spain in 1648 and emigrated at a young age to South America with his parents. After a period as organist at Lima Cathedral he lived in Panama and Cuzco, where a few of his manuscripts are found, and from 1680 he spent the last thirty-two years of his life as organist at the cathedral of La Plata, now known as the Bolivian judicial capital of Sucre.
This disc includes one of his largest pieces, the triple-choir setting in eleven parts of the first great Vesper Psalm Dixit Dominus. This substantial setting is through-composed and vividly captures the dramatic elements in the text with a dazzling display of polychoral techniques.
Silencio is a ravishing, double-choir lullaby which makes a complete contrast with the dramatic exchanges in the triple-choir ¡A, del tiempo! and ¡A, de la región de luces!. The fiery ¡Fuego de amor! is written for four choirs. The extraordinary imagination of Araujo in his choice of texts, his sensitivity to word-setting, his melodic, harmonic and textural inventiveness are remarkable, if not breathtaking.
Ex Cathedra’s uplifting recordings of Latin American Baroque polyphony are always eagerly awaited, and here they present more great music, hitherto hidden in obscurity but alive with melodic beauty and joy. Performances are infectiously energetic and dazzlingly stylish.