Thursday, July 17, 2008

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)

Someone recently posted a sound file of Francisco Guerrero's Ave Maria a 4 from the CMAA Colloquium in Chicago. I have performed this numerous times on Renaissance brass but had never sung it until that Mass in Chicago. It is truly a wondrous piece and not all that hard to sing (well, there is the melisma in the altos!).

Guerrero was the most famous composer in Spain during the second half of the 16th century because he served the kingdom's most influential cathedral in Seville. Sure Toledo was the primatial seat, but Seville had the finest musical establishment and whoever was in charge was really important. Guerrero spent his whole career in Spain, unlike Morales and Victoria who made their fames in Rome. Guerrero did travel during the 1580s to the Holy Land and wrote an account of the voyage that includes stories of pirate attacks. His music, more so than Victoria's was the model for later Spanish composers like Alonso Lobo, Juan de Esquivel, and Sebastian de Vivanco. He was particularly gifted at created individual polyphonic lines that often run well into extended ranges for effect. Harmonically modern listeners hear the coming of tonal music, but never introduces chromaticism for cheap effects. He is more known today as a result of recordings made during the anniversary of his death (and Philip II's) in 1999. In particular, his Marian works are exquisite. He was not known as el cantor de Maria for nothing.

Click Here is the sound file of the motet.

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