Fantasia del Segundo Tono (XXIV)
This truly remarkable work shows how a great composer can take simple materials and created a masterpiece by building layer upon layer. The ‘cantus firmus’ (underlying melody) is heard at the outset, decorated with short ornamental ‘melismas’ (rapid plucked notes). This cantus firmus is used to structure everything that is heard later, stated in each of the voices, sometimes woven together into the chords, hardly perceived, sometime clearly re-stated as a response in a lower or higher register. Occasionally the listener hears the influence of the East in the repetition of short motives three times, concluding at the end of each section in a broad cadence (cessation). Finally after two long rising incantatory sections, the work concludes with broad chordal declamation, without any rapid motion, involving the selective repetition of elements heard earlier, but in new descending permutations. The entire work is one of the most imposing architecture, worthy of consideration alongside the giant cathedrals of Spain, with their union of Arabic and Christian Gothic influence.
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