Elogio de las infantas

Music and literature for the daughters of the Catholic Monarchs


Among the five children of the Catholic Monarchs, four were women and queens of great historical and cultural relevance, as a result of their marriages, arranged for political purposes. This recording depicts a poetic and musical account of their lives, and is based on the recitation of the Epithalamium, a nuptial poem written by Antonio de Nebrija for the wedding of the Infanta Isabella and Prince Alfonso of Portugal. Other laudatory works from Hispanic humanist literature (Luis Vives, Francesc Eiximenis…) also accompany the selected musical repertoire, representative of the Castilian, Aragonese, Portuguese, English and Flemish -the Songbook of Joan I of Castile- courts, and allusive to the lives of the Infantas in them.

The patronage of Germaine of Foix

Vicereine of Valencia

Germana of Foix (Foix, France, 1488 – Valencia, 1538) was queen consort of Aragon and vicequeen of Valencia. Her intense life was marked by three marriages. With Ferdinand the Catholic married the young Germana 18 years after the death of Isabel la Católica. Together with her second husband, John of Brandenburg-Ansbach, Germana played an important role in the revolts of the Germanías. Finally, it was with her last husband Ferdinand of Aragon, Duke of Calabria, with whom she lived her most splendid stage of cultural patronage, within the last stage of the so-called “Golden Age of Valencia”. Apart from her official marriages, it is remarkable her love affair with a young and newly arrived in Spain emperor Charles V, who was his grandson and with whom she conceived Isabel de Castilla as a natural daughter.
This recording makes a historical journey through Germana’s life, following a narrative thread that tells in a pleasant way, but with rigor, the main events of her life. It includes pieces of the main songbooks and musical manuscripts linked to Germana and the different characters that accompanied her during her life. Some pieces were composed by prominent musicians, such as Josquin des Prez, who is linked to Germana’s childhood at the court of Louis XII in France. The music of the Palacio Songbook illustrates her marriage to Ferdinand the Catholic. The programme also includes music by Nicholas Gombert, who Carlos V brought to Castile together with his Flemish-Burgundian chapel, and, of course, music from the Uppsala and Gandia Songbooks, linked to Germana’s splendid era in Valencia next to the Duke of Calabria. Their musical chapel was, undoubtedly, one of the most musically talented in Spain, gathering important musicians and poets such as Bartomeu Cárceres, Mateo Flecha “the elder”, Luis Milán and Fernández de Heredia.

Vita Christi of Isabel de Villena

Music and literature in the Crown of Aragon

This recording vindicates the figure of Sister Isabel de Villena (1430-1490), abbess of the convent of the Holy Trinity of the Poor Clares in Valencia and the first known female writer in Catalan, by means of a musical recreation of her only preserved work, that has deserved Universal recognition, Vita Christi. This constitutes a narration of the New Testament from a point of view that might be considered “protofeminist”, since many chapters of the work are dedicated, not so much to the narration of the facts of Jesus, but to the description of the resonances that these facts had in Mary. Furthermore, the Abbess chooses from the Gospels, whenever possible, those passages in which women, directly or indirectly, appear as decisive co-protagonists, or tries to focus them in a way that one woman or another is in the foreground.
The backbone of this project is the recitation of selected scenes of the Vita Christi, following the narrative structure of the book, and alternated with musical pieces of the time that refer to the theme of each scene and intensify its emotional content: joy, pain, tenderness, torment, devotion … All music has been selected due to its connection with the Crown of Aragon in the time of Sister Isabel and the publication of the first two editions of Vita Christi, and therefore comes from songbooks such as the Gandia Songbook, the Montecassino Songbook, the Misteri d’Elx … In short, the combination that this work makes of recitation and music manages to completely impregnate the listener of the cultural essence of the Valencian Golden Age.