My quest for Conde Claros

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Digory Piper
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My quest for Conde Claros

Post by Digory Piper » Fri Dec 25, 2015 12:35 pm

I discovered Conde Claros in the first programme of Juliam Bream's 1985 television series "Guitarra - the Guitar in Spain", at a time when I'd stopped playing the guitar. The piece - 22 Diferencias sobre Conde Claros by Luis de Narváez, and Bream's heroic performance on his Romanillos vihuela, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaZDknXPtCw, caught my imagination.

When I started playing again, some years later, one of the first books I bought was Pujol's anthology of vihuela music in the Schott edition, which contains Mudarra's "Ludovico" Fantasia, the Canción del Emperador and Guárdame las Vacas by Narváez - and a different set of variations on Conde Claros, that by Mudarra. I've learnt that - there is a most helpful performance by M. Delcamp on this forum - and have finally made a start on the Narváez work, in the Pujol edition, published by Editions Max Eschig.

(There is a free downloadable version on the internet here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n31CQJf1R8g, but it is in 6 sharps, and seems to want you to retune your bottom E string to F#).

The online performances of this I'm studying most closely are those by Hopkinson Smith on vihuela here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlNUpgptomQ and this by Alex Park on guitar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vt9K9ltwrQ - beautiful, elegant and precise with great tone control. There are vihuela performances a-plenty of both the Narváez and Mudarra works.

But who was Conde Claros de Montalván? An internet search for "Conde Claros poem" (or "poema", if you prefer your results in Spanish) brings up acres of scholarship on the subject. The poem has Spanish, or Portuguese, or Carolingian, or Judaeo-Christian origins....the "king" may or may not have been Charlemagne....Anyway the variations we play, by Narváez and Mudarra (there are several others) are based on the tono to which the ballad Romance del conde Claros de Montalván, some 420 lines long, was sung. The full text is here https://es.wikisource.org/wiki/Romance_ ... alv%C3%A1n
- I've attempted a rough summary of it:

The gallant Count Claros - intrepid hunter, slayer of Moors - leaps out of bed shortly after midnight and with the help of his valet dresses in his finest clothes. He waylays his beloved, the princess Claraniña, on her way th the baths. In the shadow of a cypress tree, under a rosebush, they make love. They are spotted by a hunter. Instead of accepting Claros's generous cash offer to keep his mouth shut, the hunter goes to tell the king. The king, furious, has the hunter killed for having witnessed such a scene, then has Claros arrested and thrown into a dungeon in a tower. He is sentenced to be executed by having his throat cut, but is visited in prison by his uncle the Archbishop and a page boy. He asks the page boy to take a message to the princess, as he wishes to see her in his final moments. The princess, prostrate with grief, pleads with her father, reminding him of Claros's lineage, services rendered to the crown, etc., and at the last moment the king reprieves him so that they can be married.

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pogmoor
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by pogmoor » Sat Dec 26, 2015 12:31 am

Thanks for that fascinating background information :)
There is an arrangement in E of the Narvaez differencias by Emilio Pujol; it has the G string tuned down to F sharp, but actually with a bit of refingering it's not difficult to play in normal tuning. I guess it is probably out of print by now but I suspect it may be possible to find it online.

There is a very nice anonymous lute piece in the Willoughby Lute Book with the enigmatic title Quando Claro, Quando Claro? that is identifiably derived from Conde Claros. I have an arrangement of this for guitar that I could post on the site if you are interested. There is also a setting of Conde Claros by Guillaume Morlaye for guiterne (presumably the gittern a four course wire strung instrument) and an anonymous setting for renaissance guitar in the Osborn Commonplace Book. In addition the virginalist John Bull wrote a set of variations on Quando Claro. It was obviously a tune that got around a bit - and that's only the English sources! It is a very catchy tune - seemingly related to the popular Bergamasca ground.

According to the lute Scholar John Ward:
The inclusion of variations on Conde Claros in English manuscripts may be explained by the presence of Spanish instrumentalists in England during the 1550s...
though he also suggests the English source for one of the French musician Morlaye's versions (he did several others) raises the possibility that the tune came to England via France.

Ward also goes on to say that:
Spanish keyboard and vihuela tablatures are full of variations on 'Conde Claros'...
citing versions not only by the musicians you mention but also Valderrabano, Phalese, Pisador and Venegas.
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Lester Backshall (2008) and Paul Fischer (1995)
Yamaha SLG 130NW silent classical guitar (2014)

Digory Piper
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by Digory Piper » Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:42 am

Thanks pogmoor, yes I'd be very interested in the Willoughby Lute Book piece if you could post that.

Yes it's the Pujol edn. of the Narvaez I'm working on - I'm quite at home with F# tuning :) - I found it on the internet from Presto Classical here http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/sm/sea ... ng=narvaez - hopefully it wasn't their last copy.

I'm very interested to hear about the English versions. I read somewhere that there were sets of diferencias by 6 Spanish composers so that accords with your John Ward reference. I imagine any Spanish instrumentalists still in England after Mary's reign would have had their letters home read by Sir Francis Walsingham!

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pogmoor
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by pogmoor » Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:10 pm

Digory Piper wrote:Thanks pogmoor, yes I'd be very interested in the Willoughby Lute Book piece if you could post that.
OK, here it is: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=101280#p1079196 :)
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Lester Backshall (2008) and Paul Fischer (1995)
Yamaha SLG 130NW silent classical guitar (2014)

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bear
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by bear » Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:16 pm

2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Guistina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

Digory Piper
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by Digory Piper » Sat Dec 26, 2015 3:47 pm

pogmoor wrote: OK, here it is
Many thanks pogmoor.

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MartinCogg
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by MartinCogg » Mon Dec 28, 2015 8:34 pm

Thanks for this post - jolly interesting - it's knocked me back into vihuela mode for a while.
Mudarra today, and likely tomorrow and the next one too :wink:

I always prefer to play such repertoire from tablature with 3rd = F#, though I never
chose to learn to read from the italian 'upside-down' tab - I copy it all out from facsimiles,
but the other way up. For starters, a lot of those early books had pieces set over several
pages and they usually fit very much more conveniently on a single standard 12 stave sheet.
It's really well worth the bit of effort.

Digory Piper
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by Digory Piper » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:47 pm

I now have two guitar transcriptions of the Narváez to choose from - the Pujol (Edns Max Eschig) in F# tuning, in 4 sharps, with minimum fingering, and a transcription by Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Columbia Music) in normal tuning in 3 sharps, very detailed fingering and dynamics. I think I'm going with the Pujol, which seems easier to play and closest to the spirit of the original. Alex Park's excellent performance appears to be of the Pujol version or one very like it.

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SeanWinkler
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Re: My quest for Conde Claros

Post by SeanWinkler » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:42 pm

Just came across this thread after searching for Conde Claros. I was fortunate enough to receive a handwritten transcription by Robert Sullivan after our most recent lesson. He studied with Pujol, so I suspect his version will be similar (it's in E with f# tuning). Bob used to play this on his vihuela built by Fleta, and it was always a showstopper.
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

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