Guerrero’s Missa Surge propera
is the only one of his eighteen settings to be scored for six voices; all the others are for fewer. Its model has not been identified, but it certainly is not the motet Surge propera
, which inhabits a quite different sound-world. The Mass has a sweep of phrase which may remind the listener of some of his Marian motets – Maria Magdalene
immediately comes to mind. The polyphony seems to glow with an inner sonority, yet the melodic lines are always grateful to sing, the classic shape of them often anticipating later writing. One might use words of this kind about much of Palestrina’s music, but there should be no confusion. Guerrero’s underlying harmonic sense is so strong that he hardly ever needs to resort to block chords, instead always keeping some sense of independent movement alive between the voices, even when setting a long text in an economical way (as in this Credo). The beauty is in the stability which the harmony brings, coupled to the easy flow of the melodic ideas as they move between the contributing voices. In this Mass Guerrero favoured full textures more than was usual for him, and also liked to group the three higher voices against the three lower ones, as at the beginnings of the ‘Christe eleison’, the ‘Qui tollis’ and the ‘Agnus Dei’. The Missa Surge propera
was published in Guerrero’s Missarum Liber Secundus
, in Rome in 1582.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 2005