Christmas Traditional

Riu, riu, chiu!, carol (Spanish)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Riu, riu, chiu was written in so-called villancico style, which became a popular form for songs in post-Renaissance Spain. Such songs are in ternary form, with a text expressing some aspect of Christian principles or beliefs. This carol became one of the more widely known such works in its time; versions of it today often contain updated translations to filter out its archaic words and meanings. The author of this carol is generally thought to be anonymous, but its text, possibly originally written in Portuguese, has been attributed by some to Mateo Flecha (1481-1553). The melody to Riu, riu, chiu probably dates to the fifteenth century or earlier. The words in the title are vocalizations of the sounds made by a nightingale. The main theme is lively and rhythmic and has an instant appeal, lingering in the mind long after one or two hearings. It exudes folk-ish color, but without conveying the more exotic kind of Spanish national character that would evolve in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One hears a mixture of Renaissance-era elegance here with a sort of peasant-like festivity. Its text speaks of the roles of the Blessed Mother and the Redeemer.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Eloquentia EL 1544
    2012 Marquis Classics MAR 81435
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 001609202
    2011 Decca 2782129
    2011 Chanticleer Records
    2011 Chanticleer Records CR 88032004
    2011 Eye-Full Tower Records ET 00002
    2010 Aca Digital 30007
    2010 Centaur Records 3087
    2009 Dorian 90901
    2008 Erato 69415
    2008 The Gift of Music CCL CDG1203
    2008 Projekt Records 260206
    2007 Virgin Classics 03680
    2007 Argo 4758589
    2007 Mormon Tabernacle 5007325
    2006 Licanus 513
    2005 JAV Recordings JAV159
    2005 Sanctuary CDRSN 3054
    2005 Albany Music Distribution 801
    2005 Glencoe McGraw-Hill 61106
    2005 Nonesuch
    2004 Koch 7582
    2002 Ex Cathedra / Fountainbleau 9003
    2002 Pro Organo 7145
    2001 Hyperion / Hyperion/Noel 1
    2001 Eclectra ECCD-2041
    2000 Collegium Records 121
    2000 Hyperion NOEL 1
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 73693
    1999 Eclectra 2041
    1999 ATMA Classique 22166
    1999 ATMA Classique 22190
    1999 ATMA Classique 2190
    1999 Eclectra 2041
    1996 Proprius-AudioSource 9153
    1996 Simax 1017
    1994 Naxos 550751
    1994 Chandos 562
    1994 Boston Skyline 121
    1994 ASV/Living Era 912
    1993 Nonesuch / Elektra 79303
    1992 Allegretto / Vox Allegretto ACD-8405
    1992 Chanticleer Records 8803
    1991 Nonesuch / Elektra 79134-2
    1991 EMI Classics 7641332
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 49809
    1989 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777749909
    1989 EMI Classics / Angel Records 7498092
    Hyperion CDA-66263
    Regent 123
    Accord 204362
    Quire of Voyces 005
    Boston Skyline BSD-121
    Eclectra 2041