Diferencias de Conde Claros
de Narvaez, Luys
The printed works of only a few composers for the vihuela have survived, and one of the most original and creative of these is the music of Luys de Narvāez. Taken fron the collection Los Seys Libros de Delphin de Musia (The six books of the prince of music), 1538, the 21 variations on the Romanesca (a romance) bass line of only three chords explores a world of flowing energy which never sags. Each of the variations is dovetailed with the next, and each one has a specific rhythmic structure with characteristic virtuoso figures, often repeated in question-and-answer style on different levels. The piece crosses from normal diatonic major key to the Mixolydian and, strikingly at the end, into the Lydian mode, with a raised fourth scale-step. We are hardly aware of the underlying structure of repetition, so cunningly and cumulatively do the variations drive to the climax. This work, and the variations on Gaudame las Vacas, are some of the first published works in the form of variations in the history of music, an idea of ceaseless change which was a favourite of later composers as diverse as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schoenberg and Rachmaninoff.
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