The award-winning Cardinall’s Musick have finally completed their Byrd series, and now look outside the British isles to a composer who had to wait for a long time for his genius to be fully recognised, although he was well known to his contemporaries, and produced a considerable output. Guerrero was born in 1528 in Seville, the city that was to remain at the centre of his entire life. His early training came from his brother Pedro and it is thought that he was a chorister at the magnificent Cathedral in Seville with its sumptuous music foundation. Guerrero himself states that he studied with Morales, and it was Morales who recommended the young musician for the post of maestro de capilla at Jaén Cathedral in 1546 – a short-lived appointment.
The main work on this disc is the gloriously sunny and joyful Missa Congratulamini mihi. Based on an Easter motet by Crecquillon (also recorded here), it is full of the voluptuous exuberance of the Paschal season. The five-part texture, with two treble parts, adds to the shining sound.
Also included are a number of Easter motets. Maria Magdalena et altera Maria and Post dies octo are highly descriptive, narrative works, highly contrasted in mood and texture. The four other pieces on this disc show various facets of Guerrero’s mastery. Dum esset rex (in honour of Mary Magdalene) is similar to a spiritual madrigal whilst the eight-part Ave Maria is a sonorous double-choir plea to the Virgin. The two settings of Regina caeli (the Marian antiphon to be sung during Eastertide) both use a plainsong cantus firmus as their starting point. The older sounding, four-part version uses a minor-mode motif whilst the eight-part setting uses the more traditional plainsong melody woven into an exuberant and joyful Easter statement.