Ríu, Ríu, Chíu

Composed by Mateo Flecha
Arranged by Richard Bjella
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: hand drum and tambourine
Catalog number: AMP 0959
Price: $2.00

Performance Notes

With a twenty–first century treatment of this popular sixteenth–century Renaissance carol, Richard Bjella's arrangement of Ríu, Ríu, Chíu heightens the urgency of this Christmas text. Careful preservation of the outer vocal lines from the traditional Castilian Villancico provide a transparent connection to Mateo Flecha's (1481–1553) original work. However, Bjella's use of extended tertial harmonies, metrical disturbances, and complex rhythmic structures are anything but traditional. Drawing attention to the ever–present danger surrounding the Virgin and her newborn, the celebration of the birth of Christ remains guarded throughout. The opening call imitating the kingfisher (the “river guardian”), known to aggressively guard its offspring against predators, delivers the initial warning resounded in each refrain. Verse one punctuates the peril with a vocal accompaniment that alludes to the opening warning call, at the same time evoking imagery of unsteady waters. A gradual wailing from the treble voices over the canonic final verse leads to a declamatory concluding refrain, further punctuated by irregular entrances and persistent auxiliary percussion.

Sarah Cohen

recording performed by Texas Tech University Choir
Lubbock, Texas
Richard Bjella, conductor

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