MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)
Missa Sancta et immaculata a5(1566) [30:11]
Kyrie [4:29]
Gloria [5:53]
Credo [9:16]
Sanctus [3:41]
Benedictus [3:01]
Agnus Dei [3:36]
Hei mihi, Domine a6 (1582) [4:40]
Trahe me post te, virgo Maria a5 (1555) [4:26]
Magnificat septimi toni a4 (1584) [7:33]
Vexilla regis a4 (1584) [10:40]
O lux beata Trinitas a4 (1584) [3:24]
Lauda mater ecclesia a4 (1584) [3:00]
Westminster Cathedral Choir/James O’Donnell
rec. Westminster Cathedral, London, 1-14 March 1997. DDD.
Booklet with texts and translations. (formerly CDA66910)
Experience Classicsonline

Two extraneous considerations prevented my nominating this Bargain of the Month. I have just given that accolade to the reissued Solti Rheingold and am almost equally confident that I shall also award it to another Hyperion Helios reissue, Lancaster and Valois (Machaut et al, sung by Gothic Voices CDH55294). I lost out on my bid to review the latter, but have ordered my own copy in the expectation that it will be as highly recommendable as the other Gothic Voices recordings on Helios which I have reviewed. You need hardly wait for my review of Lancaster and Valois – the excerpts on offer on the Hyperion website will almost certainly convince you of its worth.

Musicologists usually rank Guerrero alongside Victoria as the luminaries of the siglo de oro, the Golden Age of Spanish music. If you don’t already know Victoria’s music, there are three excellent Hyperion CDs, again with the Westminster Cathedral Choir (CDA66114, directed by David Hill; CDA67479 and CDA66886, James O’Donnell. CDA67479 is also available as an SACD, SACDA67479). Guerrero’s music is a little less strikingly individual than Victoria’s, but well worth getting to know.

Born in Seville in 1528, Guerrero died there in 1599, having been successively maestro de capilla of Jaén Cathedral (1546-9), deputy maestro (1551) and maestro (1574-99) of Seville Cathedral. Unlike Victoria, who studied in Rome, possibly under Palestrina, he travelled there only in his maturity (1581-2), making a further visit to Venice and the Holy Land in 1588-9. His 18 published masses and numerous motets remained in use in Spain and Latin-America for more than two centuries after his death. His brother Pedro was his first teacher and he completed his studies with Cristóbal de Morales.

In saying that Guerrero’s music is less striking than Victoria’s, I don’t mean in any way to belittle it. The superlatives that were heaped on this recording when it first appeared were fully justified in terms of the quality of the music as well the performance and recording. The five-part Mass which takes up the first half of the CD is essentially bright and festal in nature, partly due to Guerrero’s expansion of a 4-part original with the addition of an extra superior or treble part. The work is based on his teacher Morales’ motet Sancta et immaculata virginitas but transformed almost beyond recognition – the original Morales theme is printed in the booklet in square notation to facilitate the listener who wishes to try.

Hei mihi, Domine, is a penitential work, published with the revised version of Guerrero’s Requiem but essentially an independent piece, solemn but not lugubrious. Its choice for the Hyperion sampler of the Westminster cathedral performances was very apt. Trahe me is a Marian motet, an early work but a very successful one.

The remaining pieces are all associated with Vespers. The Magnificat is one of ten published in his Liber Vesparum, alternate verses sung in polyphony and chanted in the style of plainsong which was practised in Spain in the 16th Century.

The three hymns which end the recording are more hispano, in the Spanish style: the well-known Vexilla Regis, for Passiontide and feasts of the Holy Cross; O lux beata for Trinity Sunday and Lauda mater a vigorous hymn for St Mary Magdalene to a text superseded in 1603.

The plainsong sections of the Magnificat are, of course, meat and drink to the Westminster Cathedral Choir but so is the rest of the music. It is often said that English choirs sound too well-drilled to perform continental polyphony of this period, but the Westminster Cathedral choristers come nearest to the ‘continental’ style without the rough edges that sometimes accompany it. Given the choice between the precision of King’s, Magdalen or Christ Church choirs in this music and the ragged edges that some Spanish choirs produce, I know which I prefer. I recall being very disappointed by Toledo Cathedral choir’s singing of Victoria at Sunday High Mass: the Westminster choristers could lick them into the proverbial hat, not only in the Mass but in the other works.

Professional groups such as The Tallis Scholars and The Sixteen would probably have a different, equally valid, take on this music. The Sixteen, in particular, would probably move some of it along slightly more briskly than O’Donnell (see their version of Guerrero’s Ave virgo sanctissima on Coro COR16001), but the music benefits from the extra space which it is given here and from the use of boys’ voices on the top line.

Hyperion are presumably awaiting the response to this reissue to decide whether to reissue their other Guerrero recording, also with James O’Donnell and the Westminster Cathedral Choir. Though deleted, this recording is currently available to order under Hyperion’s Archive Service (Missa de la battalia escoutez, CDA67075). I very much hope that sales are sufficiently encouraging for this second CD also to be reissued – please do your bit by purchasing CDH55313. I don’t own shares in Hyperion, but I have yet to listen to one of their Helios medieval and renaissance reissues which didn’t warrant a recommendation – only their Vaughan Williams’ Tudor Portraits and Mystical Songs ares a little too anaemic for my taste.

With singing, recording and presentation of this quality – the booklet in no way inferior to the original full-price issue – and at the new price, there is every reason to place your order forthwith. Why delay? While you’re about it, don’t forget the earlier Helios reissue of the same performers in Lassus’ Missa Bell’ Amfitrit’ altera (CDH55212).

Brian Wilson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.