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Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Con Flor y Canto from “Adoración Ambulante” (1994)
G Schirmer Inc
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
15 Minutes
SSAA children’s chorus, SATB chorus
Tenor, Bass
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Programme Note
Robert Xavier Rodríguez Con Flor y Canto from “Adoración Ambulante” (1994)
Canto (1973/82) is a short narrative cantata for soprano and tenor. Modeled on thirteenth century secular motets, in which two contrasting texts are set simultaneously, Canto is the first of the composer’s long series of works inspired by medieval subjects, the most recent being the Baccaccio-based opera, Suor Isabella (1982). The soprano solo (sung in Italian) is taken from Dante’s Inferno, Canto V, in which Francesca da Rimini tells Dante and Virgil, his guide, how she came to be in hell’s circle for carnal sinners: One day she was reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere with Paolo, her husband’s young and handsome brother when they were carried away by the beauty of the narrative into a passionate kiss and were subsequently murdered by her enraged husband. The tenor solo, from Le Livre de Lancelot del Lac (sung in French), is the anonymous thirteenth-century passage which inspired Paolo and Francesca. The two texts are set in alternating lines, in the manner of a series of cinematic flash-backs, as Francesca recalls the incident.

The music throughout is generated by the rhythm of the two languages, the result being two alternating tempos and two distinct types of melodic contour. A row is thus used only in the soprano and piano solos to suggest the present while the more severe tenor and cello solos remain closer to tonality to suggest the past as the voice makes extensive use repeated notes in the declamation of the simple French narrative. The two styles gradually become one as the texts join at the climax of the work:

Great was the joy… He kissed my mouth…
They felt that night. All trembling.

There are two instrumental settings of Canto: the original (1973) version for piano, cello, and orchestra, and a recent (1982) arrangement for chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion.

  • Ensemble
    University of Miami Symphoniy Orchestra, University of Miami Chorale, Miami Children's Chorus
    George Cordes (Baritone)
    Thomas M. Sleeper
    Albany Records:
[Rodríguez] is a fellow out to put some joy into his music...Each of these three works for soloists, choir and orchestra is lyrical, melodic, full of energy and quite joyful. My favorite is CON FLOR Y CANTO, a cantata excerpted from an evening-long Mexican folk is a sacred work linking texts from Aztec and Mayan creation stories...with Biblical selections intoned by the tenor and adult choir. It all comes together in an enthusiastic synthesis guaranteed to have you tapping a toe or two.
Philip Greenfield, American Record Guide,01/01/0001
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