Xavier Montsalvatge

(1912 - 2002, Spanien)

Tres Canciones Negras

Xavier Montsalvatge was fascinated by Cuban melodies ever since he heard the songs of Catalonian and Cuban sailors on the Costa Brava. In Barcelona, which was still devastated from the war and isolated by the Franco regime, one could not find a portable recording device, but Montsalvatge entertained the sailors with friendliness and wine until they sang their best habaneras for him, which he feverishly notated by hand. As is often the case with such projects, the men couldn’t believe that such a distinguished “man of the world” wanted to listen to their often rough and salacious songs. To Montsalvatge’s chagrin, then, they first tried to sing for him in an operetta style. With the help of the regional wine, however, Montsalvatge finally succeeded in convincing them to sing the songs of their work and recreation for him – in his opinion, the repertory was a true goldmine and in this way, he certainly also saved it from being later forgotten.

Montsalvatge composed the lullaby Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito, which, as part of the song cycle Tres Canciones Negras  has become one of his most popular and successful works. The typical rocking rhythm of the bass voice and the soft, silken melody combine in harmonies that are by no means simple or in any way folkloristic. They convey a longing for a light-hearted time and place and are at the same time distinctively modern and sophisticated. From a single charming canción, a three-part cycle was first developed and later became the famous Cinco Canciones Negras. He himself arranged three of the songs for choir which are presented here.

(From: Xavier Montsalvatge „ A Musical Life in Eventful Times“; Roger Evans, Pendragon Press, New York, 2012)

Tres Canciones Negras

"Xavier Montsalvatge: A Musical Life in Eventful Times" by Roger Evans

The American musicologist Roger Evans has written the first comprehensive biography of the Catalonian composer Xavier Montsalvatge. Thus, for the first time, from the viewpoint of a renowned critic, the man, his culture and his artistic oeuvre is presented in an historical context that goes far beyond previous available descriptions. It is the wonderful discovery of an exciting direction of composition in the 20th Century that, until today, was not much known.

Have a look at the homepage from Xavier Montsalvatge.

Pumeza Matshikiza


Decca 2016
Aarhus Symfoniorkester
Tobias Ringborg (cond.)

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Canciones & Conciertos

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Hänssler Classic 098.642.000

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Canciones Negras


I. Punto de Habanera

Text: Luján

Choir SATB and Piano

Item-No.: 3314

Price: 2,00 €