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The Cellar of Forgotten Notes

‘The Cellar of Forgotten Notes’ is a collection of twelve previously unpublished pieces of Spanish liturgical music from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, compiled by the eminent musicologist Bruno Turner.

We learned of the existence of the pieces whilst working with Bruno in preparation for our lecture recital on Alonso Lobo’s Versa est in luctum, and were keen to help bring them to a wider public. Thanks to the generosity of the Stile Antico Foundation, we were able to spend a day exploring these pieces and making rehearsal recordings. We are delighted to present these recordings here, to accompany Gareth Thomas’ meticulously produced editions – models of clarity and scholarship – which are available to download free of charge.

It was a thrill to be able to help in the rediscovery of this beautiful music, and particularly exciting for half the group to think that ours are probably the first ever mixed-voice performances of this repertoire! All of these works are well worthy of consideration; our particular favourites are Ave, Domina Maria by Periáñez and Laboravi in gemitu meo by Comes.

Comes: Laboravi in gemitu meo

Juan Bautista Comes, famous for his spectacular polychoral style, also continued writing in the ‘old’ manner. He served as maestro at Valencia Cathedral for two extensive periods between which he directed the Capilla Real in Madrid. ‘Laboravi’ is attributed to Comes by Bruno Turner due to its position in the manuscript at the ‘Patriarca’ in Valencia. Download SSAATB score | Download AATTBarB score

Cotes: O lux et decus Hispaniae

Ambrosio Cotes was born in Villena (Alicante province) in 1550. His career took him to Granada’s Royal Chapel, thence to Valencia Cathedral, and finally Seville in 1600, succeeding Guerrero. His health deteriorated and he died in September 1603. Alonso Lobo returned from Toledo to take his place. Download SSATBarB score | Download AATBarBB score

Dávila y Páez: Dies mei transierunt

Francisco Dávila y Páez held the position of maestro at the Madrid Convent of Descalzas Reales during the last year’s of Victoria’s retirement there. Dávila is known for one work, his “Misa de Requiem” in which this Elevation motet was included. It was published in 1628 by Dávila’s successor Sebastián López de Velasco in a version stated to have been reducida y vista by the author (López). It is possible that the eight voices were originally twelve. The convent’s constitution specified that the chapel employed twelve singing priests. Download SSAT.STBarB score | Download AAAT.ATBarB score

Esquivel: Hostis Herodes

Juan de Esquivel Barahona published three books of motets, masses and music for Vespers in 1608 and 1613. The latter was massive and included an extensive cycle of hymns. These remain neglected, needing their plainchant verses. Here, we restore the one for Epiphany. Download SATB score | Download ATBarB score  

Gay: Angelus Domini descendit

José (Josep) Gay, a native of Valencia, died in 1587 just two months after his election as maestro at La Seo de Zaragoza. He had been maestro at Gandía. Modern dictionaries, e.g. DMEH, mention just one work of his. In fact, sixteen motets exist in partbooks at Valencia’s “Patriarca”. Download SSAATTB score | Download AATTBarBarB score 

Alonso Lobo: Defensor alme Hispaniae

Alonso Lobo de Borja published just one book of music in 1602. It included his masses and his finest motets. More obscurely, there are exquisite hymn verses conserved in the archives of Seville Cathedral. This arrangement of three that are composed upon the same melody reconstructs a full alternatim hymn for Vespers of Saint James (July 25th). Download SATB score | Download ATBarB score

Juan Navarro: Christe, Redemptor omnium

Juan Navarro may have sung as a boy at Seville. As a young man he was tutored briefly by Morales at Málaga. His psalm and hymn settings became famous throughout Spanish domains for two centuries. They survive in manuscripts of his own times as maestro at Ávila, Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo, and in later copies (adapted to textual revisions). A grand collection of his Vespers music was published in Rome (1590) by the influential Spanish singer Francisco Soto. This Christmas hymn is taken from the posthumous print. Here it is supplied with its appropriate plainchant verses. Download SATB score | Download ATTB score 

Ortiz: Regina caeli

Diego Ortiz was from Toledo, born about 1510, but seems to have spent his career in Italy, most of it in the service of the Spanish Viceroy in Naples. Famous now for his ornamentation treatise for viols (Trattado de glosas, 1553), he published a beautifully printed collection of sacred polyphony in 1565.  Download SAATB score | Download ATTBarB score

Periáñez: Ave, Domina Maria

Pedro Periáñez was born near Salamanca, but his life is unknown until the 1570s. We know he held posts at Gaudix, Almeria and Málaga. He also served the Viceroy at Naples. From 1583 he was maestro at Santiago de Compostela. He died there in 1613. The present motet seems to be his only surviving music. Hilarion Eslava published a version in the 1850s. This edition is based in the early 17th century Escorial manuscript, E-EscSL3. Download SSATB score | Download AATBarB score

Torrentes: Conditor alme siderum 

Andrés de Torrentes seems to have been a contentious character. He fell out with the chapter of Toledo Cathedral on at least two occasions resulting in his dismissal. Nevertheless he was invited as maestro to serve three substantial terms beginning in 1539, the third of which followed Bernadino Ribera’s retirement in 1570 from Toledo to Murcia. Torrentes was honoured with fine choirbooks of his works which survive in the cathedral archives. He may have been mischievous in his opening bars when setting the traditional triple-time melody of this Advent hymn. Download SATB score | Download ATTB score 

Vivanco: Parce mihi, Domine

Sebastián de Vivanco was some two years junior to Victoria as boy choristers at Ávila Cathedral. He became maestro de capilla at Lérida, Segovia, Ávila and finally Salamanca where he also became music professor at the University. His compositions, often elaborate and multi-voiced, also include austere music suitable for monastic establishments. The present work, for the Office of the Dead, survives in manuscript at the great Monastery, then Jeronymite, at Guadalupe. Download SATB score | Download ATBarB score 

Thanks are due to Bruno Turner — whose research has unearthed these neglected works, and whose editorial notes are reproduced on this page — and to Gareth Thomas, for presenting this music in beautiful modern editions.

We are also very grateful to the Stile Antico Foundation, without whose financial support this project would not have been possible, and to our tenor Benedict Hymas, who, in addition to singing on these recordings, acted as engineer, producer and editor.