In the Library of Valencia’s Real colegio Seminario de Corpus Christi sits a collection of eight partbooks. Though legible and well-preserved, the manuscripts are not particularly decorative or elaborate upon first inspection. Yet they contain an absolute treasure trove of polyphonic music. The scribe clearly had excellent and wide-ranging tastes with music from the Low Countries, Germany, Italy and Spain: Flemish masters such as Clemens, Lassus and Phinot sit alongside Italians Palestrina, Ruffo and Vecchi but the bulk of the collection is dedicated to Spanish maestros such as Comes, Cotes, Gay, Pérez de la Parra and Ribera – little known figures today but significant names in the history of Spanish sacred music – and also Iberian-based musicians Rogier and Ghersem (sadly the one piece by the latter is incomplete. Had it survived, it would have doubled the number of pieces by Ghersem extant today). A handful of these works had been published elsewhere but the majority of the music – particularly that of the Spanish composers – is only found in this manuscript (denoted with a * below), making it one of the most important collections of Spanish music to survive. Without this source, we would have lost gems such as Ribera’s Vox in Rama, Cotes’s elegy for Philip II Mortuus est Philippus Rex and virtually the entire output of José Gay.
I am delighted to present below a selection of motets from E-VAcp 20, focussing on the unique pieces found in this source. A couple can already be found in Bruno Turner’s Cellar of Forgotten Notes and this project is, in many ways, an extension of that collection as I aim to shine a light on some of the lesser-known music of the Spanish Siglo de Oro. Browse by composer below or view the complete collection here: