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Fanfare Magazine: 16:4 (03-04/1993)
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Édition originale/Original recording
Astrée - 8765

Reviewer: J. F. Weber

Francisco Guerrero's dates (1528-99) fall just after Palestrina's lifespan, but unlike his other contemporaries, Morales (his teacher) and Victoria, he remained in Spain, visiting Rome only once. At the age of twenty-six he became assistant to the elderly Castilleja at the Seville cathedral. After twenty years of filling the latter's shoes, he formally succeeded him and remained for the rest of his life in the principal church post in Spain. For an important composer just below the first rank, his music has fared poorly on records. Only one of his eighteen Masses seems to have been recorded (on the first full disc devoted to the composer, issued in France two years ago), and only a few groups of his motets have been issued on Lyrichord, Telefunken (Fanfare 2:3, p. 129), and Hyperion (9:4, p. 164).

One of Guerrero ' s most outstanding works is A ve virgo sanctissima, first published in 1566 but reprinted in two later collections of his works. It was the basis for Masses by four other composers within a century, and it can be found in the Telefunken and Hyperion collections, as well as in a miscellaneous collection by A Sei Voci ensemble (13:1, p. 413). His later works demonstrate, as in Laudate Dominum de caelis à 8 and Duo Seraphim à 12, un awareness of polychoral develop-

ments in Venice, where most of his collections were published. His lighter vernacular pieces (still on religious topics) are not represented among the sixteen motets in this collection, although a few can be found on the Lyrichord issue and other scattered collections.

While I prefer the sound of the Westminster Cathedral Choir on Hyperion for two duplications, two works rendered instrumentally here, and two other works, the present disc offers a broader representation of the composer in sympathetic performances. Although made up of mixed voices, this ensemble opts for lower keys than Hill's boys and men do. The notes are less than satisfactory (the same annotator was at fault on this month's Morales issue), for example, in stating that the motet texts “were never the object of any monophonie settings“ when, in fact, at least six of the present texts were extremely familiar as chant antiphons, even to being quoted by Guerrero. Texts are printed with four translations. Significant collections of El Siglo de Oro will need this disc.
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