During his lifetime and for at least 200 years after his death, Guerrero was one of the most widely published and performed vocal composers of the Spanish Renaissance, second only to Victoria in reputation. From 1551 till his death he worked at Seville Cathedral, but also travelled widely. Ave Maria
, published in 1574, is among the most serene and beautiful of his 150 or so motets, similar in mood to the better-known Ave virgo sanctissima
. Like the Victoria antiphons, it is for double choir and based on a Gregorian chant—the Ave Maria
chant was, moreover, familiar to most Renaissance listeners. Its first few notes are heard at the outset of the motet marked out in slow notes by the Choir 2 tenor, echoed in canon by soprano. Although the chant provided a point of reference for listeners (as did the Lutheran chorales found throughout Bach’s church and organ music), the texture woven around it is entirely Guerrero’s own, with a characteristic sense of gracefulness spun out over a leisurely time span.
from notes by Collegium Records © 2006