Todos los bienes del mundo: Juan del Encina and Musical Traits in Spanish Renaissance


  • Artist(s): Baltazar Zúñiga, ContrArco Consort, Gianfranco Russo
  • Composer(s): Juan del Encina
  • EAN Code: 7.46160913612
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Strings Ensemble
  • Period: Baroque
  • Publication year: 2021
SKU: C00526 Category:

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Juan de Fermoselle, born in 1468 in Encina (Salamanca), place where he got his nickname “Encina” or “Enzina”, was playwright, composer, musician, poet and scholar in Spain across the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century. He’s considered one of the founders of the Iberian Profane theatre; the medieval religious drama is thus transformed into the modern humanities instances; the celebration of love, glory and beauty are the new themes, described using popular jargon elevated to the highest literary and courtier rank. His production had been collected in the “Cancionero” of 1496, Cancionero de todas las obras de Juan del Enzina, published while he was at the court of the Dukes of Alba. It is the first book that collects compositions of a single author and uses the newly developed printing technology for its publishing circulation. This editorial experiment was highly successful if we look at the succeeding prints: 1501 (Seville), 1505 (Burgos), 1507 (Salamanca), 1509 (Salamanca), and 1516 (Zaragoza). In the preface Encina states that all the works present had been composed when he was between fourteen and twenty-five years of age, this may well be extended to his whole musical production. Even though the Cancionero of 1496 is exclusively literary, we can already find many of its works set to music in other songs books, such as the “Cancionero de Palacio” or the “Cancionero de Segovia”. This authentic “Opus Maius” of Encina offers a wide spectrum of the musical poetry of his period in Spain: we find religious and devotional compositions together with pieces of a moral or circumstantial nature (mournful, celebrative or farce pieces) and moreover love and satirical poetry. In this book we also find all the musical genres typical of the period: Villancicos, Canciones, and Romances. His works are always present in the Spanish cancioneros of that period, and just as it happens in the Cancionero de Palacio, they take the lion’s share, giving evidence that Encina was indeed the most popular composer in the Spain governed by the Catholic Kings. In the Cancionero de Palacio, drawn up between 1505 and 1520, we can find all the musical heritage of the salmantino: no less than sixty music compositions out of four hundred and fifty eight of the anthology, with three or four parts, are the ones signed by Encina although some researchers tend to assign him more pieces. The widespread liking of this composer while he was alive was probably due to his adherence to the musical style that, just like it happens in the italian Frottola, was in contrast with the complex austerity of Madrigal’s polyphony. He tended to privilege the highest voice, followed along with a simple counterpoint, often homorhythmic, and with scarce and short imitative episodes. We also can notice the use of the binary tempo, which contrasted the “ternary” philosophy of the music of the past, and the persistency of third-intervals in the harmony, apart from a few cadential arrivals. All these elements made our composer rather modern for its time. We can easily state that the salmantino’s production met wide taste of both common people and courtesans, thanks to its lyrical and musical comprehensibility. We can certainly find coherence as he was indeed quite fond to both the courtesan values and the popular ones. Certainly, peculiar in Encina’s work is the fusion of lyrics and rhythm where all the accents are in the right place and lyrics and sounds are totally fused among voices with a fluid metric movement and with careful choice of tone and sound lengths. Encina’s lyrics, specially love related themes, is certainly close to the rhetorical artifices of contemporary poetry; he overcomes this with his theatrical instinct, depicting is music with such an expressivity that will become fashion after over a century. Another element that makes him a rather modern composer for its time is the attention to emotions and state of mind and their musical rendering. This makes him different from the Flemish School composers, very present in the rest of Europe at the time. The melodic expressiveness, with its linear harmony, uses the modal structure to evoke narrative. All such variety merges in Juan del Encina, composer and poet of the highest level, able to give birth to compositions of equal beauty and depth. A good sample can be found in the romance ¿Qu’es de ti, desconsolado?, composed in 1492 to celebrate the conquest of Granada: we see that the lyrics celebrates enthusiastically the feat of the Reis Catolicos, Fernando and Isabella, talking directly to the defeated Boabdil, the last Moorish Sultan in Spain, but it is also characterized by a sad sympathy for the exiled beaten, hence the choice of a melancholy music in place of a fierce and triumphal one; this clearly shows a high sensibility , probably derived from the fact that Encina came from a conversos family. Let us not be tempted to interpret his ability to move the listener with an anachronistic need to express his own feelings, but certainly we have to appreciate his rhetorical ability in representing affections. Our idea to use voice and viols to render his work adheres to all these premises. Chant accompanied with instruments allows us to follow altogether the main melodic line and its lyrics even when counterpoint gets more intricated, and also marks expressively some sections. The choice for a consort of viols meets the starting homotimbric taste of that period and holds the polyphonic mixture as it’s written. Moreover, the use of bowed strings, makes a perfect choice as they are very close to the aesthetics and expressivity and imitation of human voice.
In his book “Il Libro del Cortegiano” (1528) Baldassarre Castiglione writes: “…Many kinds of music are found – he said – with both real voices and voices played by instruments, but I’m eager to know which might be the best, and when the courtesan ought to make use of it. – Nice Music – replied Messer Federico – is certainly singing with a good voice and with a nice taste; but even more singing with the viol, where all the sweetness can be discerned, and all the subtleties are heard as the ears are not occupied by multiple voices, and one is able to discover any mistake as well, something that doesn’t happen with choir singing where one helps the other. But more than anything I like “Recitar Cantando alla viola” so that singing and theatre are meld yielding incomparable beauty and cogency to the words, which is marvelous.
Also, all keyboard instruments are harmonious with their perfect consonances that fill our soul with musical sweetness. And equally delightful is the music with four viols, which is artful and sweet…”.
Our instruments are copies of viols found in paintings of contemporary artists: the Viola da Braccio comes from the Incoronazione della Vergine, ca.1510, by Raffaellino del Garbo (1466-1524), the tenor viol is one of the instruments seen in Madonna della Pace, c.1525, di Giacomo Francia (1486-1567), last but not least, the bass viol is a copy from the famous painting Estasi di Santa Cecilia, ca.1514, di Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520). According to many scholars, it is precisely in this period that the viola da gamba, or viuhela de arco, developed in Spain, taking up the six-string tuning from the viuhela de mano, and no longer arm positions like the viella. Just as other composers, also Encina draws themes from the popular repertoire and from dance, as pointed out in his use of rhythm. In the villancico “Daca Bailemos Carillo”, which we offer in instrumental performance, the cadenced rhythm of the dance can be clearly seen. We have included two instrumental pieces in the program: an “Alta Danza” by Francisco de la Torre, present in the Cancionero de Palacio, and “Propiñan de Melyor” taken from the homogeneous repertoire of the Cancionero de la Colombina. Rhythm, in Encina works, often moves within the musical phrase, with close adherence to the text; this is apart from the tempo indication at the beginning of the piece being it, binary, ternary or quinary, as often found in the Spanish popular music and especially in the region of Salamanca. The way Encina playwriter uses music in his Eclogues, has suggested us an expressive and theatrical rendering in some villancicos. We aimed to bring forward his creative style, so different from other contemporary European poets and composers: more focused on the watermark and delicacy of counterpoint with its technical entanglements and even of a single note in relation to others and to a specific syllable and vocal, they often ended up forgetting the clarity of the lyrics. Juan del Encina lived in Rome where he got the musical appreciation of three popes and took his vows around 1518 although we don’t have any evidence of liturgical compositions. After a trip to Jerusalem, he was appointed Prior of the cathedral of Leon where he died in 1529.
Gianfranco Russo © 2021
English traslation by Marco Ottone


Baltazar Zúñiga: Baltazar Zúñiga was born in Mexico City, from 1998 it has artistic career as soloist in concert and operatic repertoire in Mexico, Italy and Nord Europe. He studied singing at the Superior School of Music of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City. In 1998 e 1999 Baltazar Zúñiga started his career as an opera singer in Mexico in the role of Tamino in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Count Almaviva in Rosini’s Barber of Seville, during that time he has participated in Japan at the Pacific Musica Festival singing in the most important concerts halls of Sapporo with important conductors as Nicholas Mc. Geegan and Simon Shauten. He moved to Italy to study bel canto and early music repertoire with Gioacchino Zarrelli, Michael Aspinal and William Matteuzzi at “Accademia del Teatro Città di Cagli” and debuted in 2001 at Rossini Opera Festival (R.OF) in the Rossini’s opera “Il Viaggio a Reims” conducted by Antonino Fogliani, continued the debuts of the role of Rinuccio in “Gianni Schicchi” G.Puccini, Ferrando in “Così fan tutte” and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni W.A.Mozart, Foleville, in “Il Signor Bruscchino” G.Rossini, Lurcanio in “Ariodante” G.F.Händel and th role of Rodolfo of La Bohéme G.Puccini. By 2001 he began a carrer in Italy in operatic repertoire and began to participate as a soloist singing oratorios, symphonic reprtoire and sacred music with important orchestras in Italy. In the same years he began to specialize in early muisc with important musicians as Gustav Leonhardt, Michael Radulescu, Gloria Banditelli and Francesco Cera. In 2007 he won the international competition for the 400 anniversary of Monteverdi’s Orfeo in Mantua singing the role of Orfeo at Theatre Bibiena. Currently He works with european ensembles of early music: Accademia Bizantina, Concerto Romano, Arìon Choir & Consort, Arte Musica, L’Arte dell’Arco, La Stagione Armonica, De Labyrintho, La Capella di Cremona, La Capella di San Petronio di Bologna, Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, I Musicali Affetti, La Venexiana, Collegium Vocale Gent, Ensemble Pygmalion, Ensemble I Gemelli singing in the most important festivals of early music in Europe and America: Bruge, Europalia, Lufthansa Festival, Early Music Festival Istanbul, Early Music Festival Postdam, Ravenna Festival, Salzburg Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Anima Mundi Pisa, Chopin Festival Varsavia, Festival Accademia Chigiana Siena, Festival di Hannover, Emilia Romagnia Festival, Festival Monteverdi di Cremona, Casa della Musica di Parma, Alte Musik Melk and others. He collaborates with conductors: Riccardo Muti, Luciano Acocella, Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, Gustav Leonhardt, Claudio Cavina, Vito Clemente, Antonino Fogliani, Marc Andrè, Diego Fasolis, Filippo Maria Bresan, Michael Radulescu, Alberto Zedda, Aldo Salvagno, Cinzia Pennesi, Ottavio Dantone, Nicholas Mc.Geegan, Philipphe Herreweghe, Frans Brugen, Francesco Cera, Alessandro Quarta, Enrico Onofri, Sergio Balestracci e Fabrizio Bastianini. He was presented with great succes in theaters and concert hall as Lincoln Center di New York, Auditorium St. John’s London, Konzerthaus Vien, Auditorium Kitara Japan, Teatro de Bellas Artes of Mexico City, Auditorium Köln in Germany, Auditorium Brugge in Belgium, Grand Théatre de Montpellier, Théatre de Tulouse, Théatre de Reims, Grand Théatre de Marseille, Théatre de Bordeaux, Théatre de Tours, Théatre de Avignon, and Théatre des Champs Elysées in France, Teatro Bibiena di Mantova, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Rossini di Pesaro, Teatro della Fortuna di Fano, Teatro Lauro Rossi di Macerata, Teatro Comunale di Fermo, Teatro Nichelino di Torino, Casa della Musica di Parma e Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza in Italy.

ContrArco Consort
Directed by Gianfranco Russo, is an ensemble made up of viols (from two to four) and a Renaissance viola da braccio oriented to perform Renaissance music. The ensemble is made up of musicians who have collaborated with major Italian and European early music performers, and who have performed together, or in other ensembles, in international festivals such as Festival van Vlaanderen, Seviqc Brežice Festival, Tage Alter Musik Regensburg, Resonanzen Wien, Settembre Musica Torino, Accademia Chigiana Siena, Ravenna Festival, Automne Musical du Château de Versailles, Concerti al Quirinale di Radio3, Festival de Musique de Strasbourg, Festival Villa Solomei, Festival d'Ambronay, Roma Festival Barocco, RomaEuropa Festival, Anima Mea Festival, Festival Musicale Estense (Grandezze e Meraviglie), Ravello Festival, Urbino Musica Antica, Sagra Musicale Malatestiana...and in prestigious venues such as the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Theater Liceu in Barcelona, the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, La Fenice Theater in Venice, etc…; In various formations they have recorded for EMI, Virgin, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony, Symphonia, Stradivarius, Tactus, Bongiovanni, Brilliant, K617, Passacaille, Pan Classic, Outhere Music France, Amadeus, Naive classique, III Millennio, Musica immagine, Zig Zag, Baryton, Christophorus record, and have also recorded for the national radio broadcast of Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Germany, Finland, Japan, Ukraine, Croatia, Switzerland, USA, Korea, Turkey, Greece, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, China, for SKY and Vatican Radio. The consort is present in prestigious programme of ancient music festivals in Italy and abroad (Festival Internazionale di Musica Antica Echi Lontani, Barocco Europeo, Segni Barocchi, Barocco Festival Leonardo Leo, Festiv’Alba, Stagione Teatro Palladium di Roma, Gaulitana Music Festival di Malta...) The name of the ensemble is motivated by the instrumental combination of viol and viola da braccio which uses an opposite way of conducting the bow.

Gianfranco Russo
He has graduated in psychology with a pedagogical thesis on music teaching. As a violist, he has dedicated himself to the study of performance practice on period instruments and has collaborated with the most important Italian and European ensembles and artists in this area. Specialized in medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments, he plays with the Cantilena Antiqua ensemble of Bologna and conducts the Chominciamento di Gioia ensemble in Rome and the ContrArco Consort in Rome. He has held concerts in Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Lebanon, Portugal, Bolivia, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Malta... for the most prestigious musical seasons in the most renowned concert halls ( Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival de Strasbourg, Festival Medievale de Cluny, Voix et Route Romaine, Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto, Oude Muziek Utrecht, Les Orientales, Accademia Chigiana, Resonanzen (Wien), Accademia di S.Cecilia di Roma, Automne Musical du Château de Versailles, Seviqc Brežice Festival, Tage Alte Musik Regensburg, Ambronay Festival, Settimane internazionali di Musica Medioevale e Rinascimentale di Erice, Alia Musica, Tage Alte Musik Herne, Ravenna Festival, I Concerti Del Quirinale di Radio3, Settembre Musica (Turin), Segni Barocchi, I Concerti a Palazzo Venezia di Radio3, La Fenice Theater (Venice), Liceu Theater (Barcelona), Palais de Beaux Artes (Brussels), Auditorium Parco della Musica (Rome), Institutione Universitaria dei Concerti (Rome), Società del Quartetto (Milan) ...). He has recorded more than sixty CDs for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Virgin, Passacaille, Pan Classics, Brilliant, Tactus, Stradivarius, Symphonia, Bongiovanni, Musica immagine, K617, III Millennio. He recorded and played live for Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana, Radio France, Radio Nacional de España, Vatican Radio, Austrian Radio (ORF) and for German Radio Television (ARD, WDR, Klassic Radio), Switzerland (RTI) Belgian, Danish, Dutch, Slovenian, Greek and SKY. For Japanese television he made a special broadcast on "Leonardo da Vinci and the lira da braccio". He has participated in radio broadcast on music in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance of RAIDUE, Rai-Radio3, Rai International and collaborates with Rai Radio3 Classica. He gives lectures and seminars at universities, museums and music conservatories on medieval, Renaissance and Baroque stringed instruments. He has published articles on medieval music in the magazines Avvenimenti and Orfeo. He edited the item "Philology and executive practice" for the "XXI century" update of the Treccani Encyclopedia.
He edited and conducted some episodes of "Lessons of Music" on Rai Radio3. Since 1996 he has been directing the medieval and Renaissance ensemble music workshops at the Centro di Pratica Musicale in Rome.


Juan del Encina(b Salamanca, 12 July 1468; d León, late 1529 or early 1530). Spanish poet, dramatist and composer. He was born Juan de Fermoselle in Salamanca, where his father was a shoemaker; it has been suggested that he was of Jewish descent. One of at least seven children, he, like several of his brothers, pursued a career that brought him into contact with the higher echelons of society. Diego de Fermoselle was professor of music at Salamanca University from 1479 until 1522, and may well have taught his younger brother. Juan became a choirboy in the cathedral in 1484, where another of his brothers, Miguel, was a chaplain. By 1490, when he, too, briefly held a chaplaincy at Salamanca Cathedral (a position he was forced to resign as he was not ordained), he had adopted the name Juan del Encina, probably his matronymic, but also perhaps a conscious reference to the Castilian holm oak as well as the ilex of Virgil’s bucolic poetry which clearly exerted considerable influence over him. He would have coincided with the great Spanish humanist Antonio de Nebrija at Salamanca, where he studied law probably between 1488 and 1492, and it is assumed that he would have come under his influence. It has previously been accepted that he entered the service of the Duke of Alba, Don Fadrique de Toledo, immediately after graduating in 1492. However, it is possible that his first post was as a magistrate or corregidor in northern Spain, which would have been a royal appointment. If this were the case, Encina would not have become a member of the duke’s household until 1495, which has implications for the chronology of his works, especially the plays he composed for performance at the ducal palace at Alba de Tormes, close to Salamanca; most of his works, including the first eight eglogas, were published in Salamanca in 1496. He may have entertained hopes of serving Prince Juan (d 1497), son and heir of Ferdinand and Isabella, who in that year had taken up residence in the city. In 1498 Encina applied for the post of cantor (maestro de capilla) at Salamanca Cathedral, but was unsuccessful; after much prevarication on the part of the chapter the position was divided among three singers, including his rival Lucas Fernández. He sought promotion elsewhere, and by 1500 was in Rome, securing benefices in the Salamancan diocese with papal support. Two years later, and despite the opposition of the cathedral chapter, a papal bull decreed that he should hold the benefice assigned to the cantor, which by then belonged to Fernández. Encina did not, however, return to Spain, having found Rome congenial and obtained the favours of successive popes and cardinals. By October 1503 he may have secured a place in the household of Alexander VI, and later in that of Cardinal Francisco Loriz (d 1506). In 1508 he was granted the archdiaconate of Málaga Cathedral by Julius II, and he attended his first chapter meeting in 1510, although the chapter curtailed his responsibilities because he was still not ordained. It did, however, entrust him with cathedral business, and over the next eight years he travelled several times to Rome, notably in 1512–13, when his play Placida y Vitoriano was performed at the house of a Valencian cardinal, and to the royal court in Valladolid. In 1518 he resigned his position at Málaga for a simple benefice at nearby Morón, and the following year he was finally ordained and travelled to the Holy Land in order to sing his first Mass in Jerusalem. Before his journey, of which he wrote an account in verse, he had been nominated by Leo X for the priorship of León Cathedral, and he attended his first chapter meeting there in November 1523. He held this position until his final illness in December 1529, his will being presented on 14 January 1530. It was his wish that he should be buried beneath the choir of Salamanca Cathedral, and his remains were moved there in 1534.

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