Collection: Cantigas from the Court of Dom Dinis

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COMPOSERS: Anonymous,Dom Dinis
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Cantigas de Santa Maria from the court of Alfonso the Wise
PERFORMER: Paul Hillier (voice), Margriet Tindemans (vielle); Theatre of Voices


Dom Dinis was King of Portugal in the late 13th and early 14th centuries and – as a poet and troubadour himself – was an active patron of music. He wrote over seventy love songs in Galician-Portuguese and a handful has survived with fragmentary musical notation, which has recently been reconstructed. This is the first recording of these songs, and anyone who has enjoyed the cantigas of the Galician ‘trovador’ Martin Codax (recorded by Sinfonye) may well be interested in them.

Paul Hillier emphasises the aristocratic nature of the cantiga de amor, singing with dark eloquence, and unaccompanied apart from short introductions on the vielle, sensitively played by Margriet Tindemans. Sadly, his lugubrious performances make the elaborate melodic lines too long drawn out, and he offers little to differentiate individual songs.


This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the CD booklet includes only synopses of the poetic texts rather than full translations. In addition to Dom Dinis’s songs are several satirical works and some Cantigas de Santa Maria from the court of Alfonso the Wise, performed with chorus and some lively instrumental playing. Kate Bolton