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Francisco GUERRERO (1527-1598)
Canciones y Villanescas Espirituales (published 1589)
Hombres Victoria, Victoria [2:24]
De Dones vienes, Pascual [1:52]
Nino Dios d’amor Herido [2:23]
Claros y hermosos ojos [3:05]
La tierra se esta gozando [2:49]
A un nino llorando [5:00]
Acaba de matarme [3:04]
Juicios sobre una estrella [3:30]
Mi ofensa’s grande [5:09]
Virgen sancta [3:59]
O, celestial medicina [2:25]
Al resplandor de una estrella [4:43]
O que mesa y que manjar! [2:48]
Apuestan zagales dos [2:52]
Sabes lo que heziste [6:05]
O, Virgen, quando miro [2:09]
Zagales sin seso vengo [2:03]
Quando’s miro mi dios [4:21]
Los reyes siguen la’strella [3:08]
La Trulla de Bozes/Carlos Sandua
Instrumental Ensemble
rec. Monastery of Loreto, Seville, June 2005
ALMAVIVA DS0143 [65:17]

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Guerrero wrote a number of secular works. Many were written early in his compositional life but they were not published until 1589 under the title Canciones y Villanescas Espirituales. He took the precaution however of replacing the secular texts with sacred ones, the better to keep him out of harm’s way.

Given that several of these songs can with reasonable certainty be dated to 1548, when Guerrero was twenty-one, we can see that they occupied him throughout much of his career in Seville. The most salient features of his writing here are imitative counterpoint and something that comes close to the madrigal. The Villanescas have a refrain and couplets (one or more) and were a common feature of chapel life, something of a musical prerequisite for the Chapel Master in fact. Most of the songs in this disc are taken from the Christmas cycle given "to praise the Holy Nativity of Christ."

Despite the sacred texts one would hardly confuse these with liturgical works. They possess far too much animation and sheer rhythmic vivacity. Alternating single lines and madrigal like consort textures ensure there’s always a sense of changeability in these settings and this is something that Guerrero takes care to keep alive. De Dones vienes, Pascual is an especially vivacious, and brief, example of his elan in this kind of repertoire. In this performance Nino Dios d’amor Herido evinces fuller textures and is more resonantly expressive, more reminiscent in fact of the liturgical Guerrero; evocative in sound at least of the masses he was to write in Seville.

La Trulla de Bozes under Carlos Sandua do make something of a play for the broader and more intensely sculpted aspect of the writing, as if the one were in reality embedded in the other. So their performances tend to be heavier and less lightly textured than their competitors in this repertoire. This brings rewards. The dynamics and colour of La tierra se esta gozando are impressive and the singing reaches a pitch of beauty. Then there’s moving gravity and simplicity of utterance in Acaba de matarme and the refinement and delicacy of Al resplandor de una estrella where the fine instrumental ensemble of organ, harp and bajon really make their mark.

The vocal ensemble consists of soprano, counter tenor, two tenors and baritone. The counter tenor has a certain James Bowman-like hoot though it’s not an unattractive hoot and it certainly adds a distinctive quality to the vocal ensemble.

The attractive notes have some fine illustrations. The texts are in Spanish only. Admirers of Guerrero are living in happy times with a plethora of new releases both secular and liturgical. Fortunately there’s enough for there to be no serious overlap between discs so if you go for the selection on Enchiriadis EN2014 sung by Musica Ficta you can be sure of little duplication. This group takes a more airy, less pressured and liturgical view. For an expressive and powerful look at the Canciones however La Trulla de Bozes certainly do themselves justice.

Jonathan Woolf



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