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Aita Donostia · Music for voice and piano (III)
Disc information
Title:Music for voice and piano (III) Almudena Ortega, sopran & Josu Okiñena, piano
Artist:Aita Donostia (1886-1956)
Gender:Music for voice and piano
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Txalopin txalo

Aita Donostia (1886-1956)
Music for voice and piano (III) Almudena Ortega, sopran & Josu Okiñena, piano

This third item of Basque songs by Aita Donostia offers a total of 37 works belonging to different creative stages of the musician, though the largest bulk corresponds to the twenties, as can be seen in the edition of the author’s works made by Jorge de Riezu. Therefore, it shows the different kinds of treatment and covering of popular materials used by Aita Donostia all along his musical career. Neither the author of these lines nor this space are the most appropriate for depicting the analysis of those forms but it must be made clear that all of them, independent of their diversity, or maybe because of it, derive from a knowledge, a passion and an identification with the basic material that lead to a very personal aesthetic way but strongly rooted in the very essence of that popular form of expression.

We can pick up concisely (therefore, incompletely) the explanations offered by José Luis Ansorena in his excellent work about A. Donostia. In words of this greatest connoisseur the musician, whilst composing the Preludios Vascos (from 1912 to 1915), created a great number of pieces of work of this our popular treasure: tunes presented with careful harmonization, most of them for piano. We can put on those songs, adds Ansorena, as a whole, the judgment applied by himself to the French songs of D’Indy: “straightforward and natural harmony, which seems to emanate from the people themselves, from the song”. Afterwards, walking towards 1920, we can see a progressive evolution, an increase of harmonic and rhythmic resources that will be stressed in the following decade. “It may seem strange –says Ansorena- that Father Donostia talks about simplification of accompaniment around 1930, when after 1920 he had produced a lot of popular songs with an accompaniment rich of piano and harmonic difficulties”.

This recording, that covers from 1911, when A. Donostia sends “Ikhazkin mendian” to the Flower Games of Segura, until the “O ciucciarella” of 1953, reveals the changing foams of those stylistic tides and each time’s tendencies to use horizontal, vertical or combined harmonies. But always acting “in freedom”. “His designs and melodic games are not merely ornamental, but are linked in a veiled way to the context of the melody or the rhythm of the song”, writes Ansorena. As an example, we can see that procedure in the straightforward and joyful (and maybe not of Basque origin) “Ama begira zazu”, traditional danced song which A. Donostia dresses with a bass whose rhythmic formula suffers a variant half way to the song, whilst the right hand undertakes a passage of triplets. All this, accompanied twice by a straightforward contre-chant, confers to the melody a freer air and, even, a slight poetic sense.

And with this mention of the song “Ama begira zazu” comes to light one issue that originated sharp controversy in the past: that of the Basque origin or not of many of the songs and dances of our popular heritage. Aita Donostia was, in my opinion, the one who most bravely analyzed the Basque heritage and put sensible questions. Reading his articles and essays published about airs as “ours” as Saint Ignacio’s March, Uso Zuria, Donostiako Iru Damatxo, etc., is enough. His intense love for the Basque folklore allowed him to fly with so much freedom. As Jean Ithurriague depicts in his book “Un peuple qui chante. Les Basques” (1947), the robinsonism is a utopia, a chimerical conception of the popular spirit. It is impossible, therefore, to isolate a nation from outer loans. It is the work of time which confers nationality to those art products of popular use. The same may be said about the treatment, the highbrow “devolution” of those songs to the public. Aita Donostia reasoned (he had no need to justify anything) his treatment forms talking about the evolution of time: “We live in the 20th Century”. And thus he acted. A genial way of harmonisation of past and present.


1. Ikhazkin Mendian
2. nere maitia, nik zuretzat
3. bonbolontena
4. nere maitia, lo ta lo
5. nere aurra, lotxo, lotxo
6. txalopin txalo
7. atzo ttun ttun
8. itxasoan laño dago
9. ni ez naiz zomorrua
10. bolon bat eta bolon bi
11. bolon bat eta bolon bi
12. binbili, bonbolo
13. xarmegarria zira
14. nere mandoa
15. o ciucciarella
16. le bon matin me suis levé
17. els tres tambors
18. ene ama, othoi errazü
19. untzia jin deneko
20. aisa pensatu nuen
21. baratzeko pikuak
22. ama begira zazu
23. axuri beltza
24. aldapeko sagarraren
25. nik badut maiteño bat
26. lili eder bat badut nik
27. Orai banüazü herriti
28. lurraren pian sar nindaiteke
29. bortian ahüzki
30. alageraz
31. muthil gaztia
32. oi ene bizitzea
33. basoilarrak
34. mündüan den ederrena
35. arrosa eder
36. alferretan haiz sortzen
37. arranoak bortietan

“Una música como esta, que a menudo es confidencial, exquisita siempre y poco dada grandes alardes ni a aparatosos despliegues, demanda mesura en la expresión y sumo cuidado en la interpretación, y las versiones que aquí escuchamos son, en este sentido, ejemplares. Así pues, interesante y atractiva música excelentemente interpretada” (Josep Pascual CD Compact)

"El paseo de Almudena Ortega y Josu Okiñena por la obra para voz y piano del Padre Donostia (1886-1956) llega con estas dos entregas a sus etapas tercera y cuarta, ahora de la mano de la joven casa NB y con una presentación muy bella. (...). Algunas de ellas son muy conocidas (la canción de cuna Txalopin txalo puede ser un ejemplo de esa "primitiva sencillez" que siempre trató de encontrar Donostia), y a todas se entregan soprano y pianista con cuidada gracia y sensibilidad" (Asier Vallejo Ugarte SCHERZO 2007)

"Con apropiado carácter, Almudena Ortega entona cada canción, y aporta a cada una de ellas el estilo apropiado. El pianista Josu Okiñena, músico empapado en el difícil arte del acompañamiento de cámara, dialoga en el mejor estilo con la soprano. Consiguen entre ambos una sesión musical en la que lo entrañable de las melodías y la pureza puesta en ellas por el autor hacen que alcancen un alto grado de emoción. Son 37 miniaturas vocales que componen una manifestación de sabio respeto por el arte sonoro de origen popular"
(Karmelo Errekatxo, periódico BILBAO marzo 2006)

"En fin, estamos ante una por muchos motivos feliz aportación a las ya numerosas que la canción española de concierto viene recibiendo en los últimos años" (Andrés Ruiz Tarazona DIVERDI)

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