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Francisco López Capillas

born: c1605
died: 18 January 1674
country: Mexico

Francisco López Capillas was born in Mexico City in about 1605 of pure Spanish parentage and thus termed ‘criollo’. His musical career took him to Puebla’s rich cathedral and there he assisted Padilla and served as an organist and bajonista. He moved in 1648 to Mexico City to be assistant to Fabián Ximeno and then succeeded as maestro and organist at the Cathedral in 1654. He died at the height of his powers in 1674. López has left us eight Masses and a set of eight Magnificats found in manuscripts in Mexico and in a superbly written choirbook now in the National Library in Madrid. There is a considerable collection of other works still extant. The general impression is one of contrast with Padilla. López writes more often in four parts and never for double choir. His music is fresh, simple and pleasant. He seems not to have written anything that exhibits a grand scale or very rich sonority, nor does he try to write with strong emotion as Padilla does in Passiontide or Requiem music.

López is direct and delightful in his Easter Alleluia (based on the Sequence Victimae Paschali laudes) and in his Magnificats. It is true that he did indulge some very old-fashioned and learned musical fancies in his Hexachord Mass (Missa super scalam Aretinam), so much so that he found it necessary to defend his archaic notation and procedures in writing, just as the later Catalan Francisco Valls had to do after the disproportionate fuss over one dissonance in his first Hexachord Mass.

from notes by Bruno Turner © 1990

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