The Cellar of Forgotten Notes

Compiled and edited by the renowned musicologist Bruno Turner, this miscellany of Spanish compositions presents twelve liturgical works from the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Some are by composers little-known now; some are rare pieces by the well-known; the Mass remains anonymous. The editions are non-commerical: the editor offers them free of charge for printing and they are not subject to copyright.

Two versions are available. Numbered with suffix L, the works are scored and pitched for adult males voices; the series with suffix H are pitched for mixed choirs, basically SATB. Numbers 2-12 have been recorded by Stile Antico.

CFN 1 Anonymous: Missa “Simile est regnum caelorum” – ATTBarB or SAATB
The origin of this virtuoso mass is unknown. This unique copy seems to have found its way to the Mexican Convento de la Encarnación along with thee other masses: Maillard’s Missa “Je suis deshéritée” originally printed 1553); Guerrero’s Missa “Saeculorum. Amen” (1597); Missa “Susanne un jour” which is unattributed. The motet “Simile est regnum” by Morales never reached print and now survives complete only in the Toledo archives. It may have been known to the Capilla Real in Madrid. The Mass might have been written by one of the expert members, possibly a native of the Spanish Netherlands. Géry de Ghersem comes to mind. The present editor does not propose this as an attribution, simply a suggestion. The music archive of the Royal Chapel went up in flames in 1734.

CFN 2 Comes: Laboravi in gemitu meo – AATTBarB or SSAATB
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 the present editor due to its position in the manuscript at the “Patriarca” in Valencia.

CFN 3 Cotes: O lux et decus Hispaniae – AATBarBB or SSATBarB
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.

CFN 4 Dávila y Páez: Dies mei transierunt – AAAT.ATBarB or SSAT.STBarB
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.

CFN 5 Esquivel: Hostis Herodes – ATBarB or SATB
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.

CFN 6 Gay: Angelus Domini descendit – AATTBarBarB or SSAATTB
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”.

CFN 7 Alonso Lobo: Defensor alme Hispaniae – ATBarB or SATB
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. Our arrangement of three that are composed upon the same melody reconstructs a full alternatim hymn for Vespers of Saint James (July 25th).

CFN 8 Juan Navarro: Christe, Redemptor omnium – ATTB or SATB
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.

CFN 9 Ortiz: Regina caeli – ATTBarB or SAATB
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.

CFN 10 Periáñez: Ave, Domina Maria – AATBarB or SSATB
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. Our edition is based in the early 17th century Escorial manuscript, E-EscSL3.

CFN 11 Torrentes: Conditor alme siderum – ATTB or SATB
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.

CFN 12 Vivanco: Parce mihi, Domine – ATBarB or SATB
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.

Bruno Turner, July 2021