Dioses aztecas

A set of five concert pieces for mandolin and piano, Dioses aztecas (Aztec Gods) was written for Dutch mandolinist Sebastiaan de Grebber. Although the Aztec pantheon consisted of more than 200 gods and goddesses, five of the most colorful were selected for musical representations in this collection:

Xochiquetzal (“Flower Quetzal-Feather”) — Goddess of flowers, dance, and love, she also was the patroness of artisans, prostitutes, and pregnant women. Her retinue consisted of birds and butterflies, and worshippers adorned themselves with animal and flower masks at her festival which was celebrated every eight years.

Xochipilli (“Flower Prince”) — Brother of Xochiquetzal, he was the god of song, dance, games, and gambling.

Ayauhteotl (“Mysterious Goddess of Nature”) — Goddess of crepuscular fog (morning and evening haze), she also was associated with vanity and fame. It is believed this association was due to the fact that, like the morning haze, fame quickly fades away.

Mictlantecuhtli (“Lord of Mictlan”) — The god of death and the underworld. Often pictured as a skeleton or a figure wearing a skull, he was associated with spiders, owls, and bats.

Huehuecoyotl (“Old Old Coyote”) — A trickster, Heuhuecoyotl was the god of pranks, music, dance, and song. Associated with the cunning coyote, he also was a shapeshifter who delighted in playing pranks on humans and other gods.

Xochiquetzal, Ayauhteotl, and Huehuecoyotl utilize standard GDAE tunings for the mandolin. Scordatura is employed in the other two movements. In Xochipilli, the G course is tuned up a minor second to A-flat. Mictlantecuhtli requires tuning one string on the E course to E, the other to C-sharp; likewise, the D course is tuned with one string playing D, the other B-natural; A and G courses are tuned normally.

The first movement, “Xochiquetzal,” was premiered by Sebastiaan de Grebber and pianist Eva van den Dool in Zwolle, Netherlands, on 5 July 2008. (A video of that performance can be found here.) The sheet music for this work is available from Wolfhead Music. The audio files below are simply the Sibelius playbacks of these pieces.


Copyright © 2006 by John Craton

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