Riquier 'The Last of the Troubadours'



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…We are taken on a musical journey through what we know of Riquier's career with the help of eight of his 48 surviving songs (cansos), one played instrumentally, various dances and excerpts from the Cantigas de Santa Maria compiled under the direction of King Alfonso X  known as 'The Wise' of Aragon whom Riquier visited sometime after 1270…

…Riquier's melodies are often complex but mostly memorable. Although 'Mensural (or measured) Notation' was becoming more common towards the end of the thirteenth century, you must remember that rhythms were not clearly notated at this time so Best and his group adopt sometimes a free approach, sometimes triple time, sometimes duple time.

The instruments employed to accompany and play the dances are those which "create an authentic 13th Century atmosphere" and are often seen in contemporary manuscripts. The list includes an 'Oud' brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders. To the French it was 'Le Oud' or more precisely 'L'oud', which of course developed into 'Lute'. Also audible is the hammer dulcimer and tabor.

The original texts are given and lucidly translated. Martin Best's essay drawing the treads of the troubadour tradition from the late 11th to the end of the 13th Century is a model of concision and clarity.

This is now the last of the reviews of discs made by the 'first great contemporary troubadour' Martin Best and various musicians from early in the 1980's up to the end of the 90's. I found myself wondering how I had missed most of them first time round but am delighted to have encountered them during these last weeks and, as you might have gathered if you have read my other reviews, I would recommend each one and indeed the entire set.

Music Web International – Classical Review


"I am writing this as I listen to the songs this gentleman is singing. but it's not just songs. There are instruments, rhythms, drums. When I was told that a great deal of civilization is sometimes saved by various individuals - monks in monasteries who write down what will soon be forgotten and saved in storage until humanity rediscovers itself - I believed it but I could not see it. Here in this artist, Martin Best, and his collaborators I sense something that teaches an essential lesson of interdependence. The way the past truly does exist in the present and/or speaks to the present in voices of wisdom and compassion, fidelity and love. I strongly recommend this music for any high school, college music appreciation program and/or this living artist, Mr. Best, who continues to toil away at his craft, his music and art. These songs are pearls and the album is a treasure. Yet, it's self-secret, like the ancient terma teaching of Tibet, this music and our capacity to enjoy it is buried underneath the layers of our increasingly complex and ever-changing times. The music must be discovered and a kind of excavation project must be undertaken by the listener. You must listen to the music and allow it to excavate YOU and liberate your sensibilities, currently bombarded by the crap of the infotainment telesector (it's not all crap...but a good deal of it). This music is very currant - I have heard the same melodies, rhythms and imagery in the various television series - Game of Thrones, The Tudors, various Shakespeare productions, Vikings, etc. Not surprised to know that Mr. Best has a history with the great artists of Europe and the Royal Shakespeare Theater as well. That's him singing the songs. Take advantage of this gold. Thank you as well to Mr. Best for your efforts on behalf of all of us. These songs stand alongside the Cante Jondo of Spain, they contain the same Duende that Lorca spoke of, they are songs that contain the secular and sacred of their times in a way that speaks to the possibility of basic goodness in our own times. Go for it. Think on your life as you listen."



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