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Joan CEREROLS (1618 - 1680): Masses and Antiphons

Cor de cambra Francesc Valls
David Malet, organ
Dir: Pere Lluís Biosca
rec: July 5 - 6, 2007, Barcelona, Sant Sever (chapel)
La mā de guido - LMG2080 (Š 2007) (55'16")

Joan CABANILLES (1644-1712): Tiento sobre el Pange lingua; Joan CEREROLS: Alma redemptoris mater a 8; Ave Regina coelorum a 8; Missa Angelorum del 4t to a 5; Missa Martyrum del 6č to a 5; Regina coeli a 8; Salve Regina a 8; Bernabč IRIBERIA (1647-1677): Tiento de falsas del 7č to

[soli] Maria Casado, Anna Fernāndez, soprano; Eulālia Fantova, contralto; David Hernāndez, tenor; David Pastor, bass

In comparison to music of the Spanish renaissance, with names like Morales, Guerrero and Victoria, the music of the baroque era in Spain is relatively neglected. Now and then recordings of music from this period are released, but not on a regular basis. Although some of Joan Cererols' music has been recorded, for instance by Jordi Savall and Erik Van Nevel, the largest part of his output is still unknown. In the case of the two masses which are recorded here, this is not surprising, as only fairly recently they were identified as authentic compositions by Cererols.

Joan Cererols was born in Martorell in Catalonia and entered the Montserrat monastery at the age of seven or eight. Here he studied under the guidance of Father Juan March or Marques, who was a famous organist. Cererols not only developed into a composer of fame, but also learned to play the organ, the harp and various string instruments.

Although Montserrat was a monastery this doesn't mean it was isolated from the outside world. In addition Cererols had the opportunity to look elsewhere for musical inspiration. As a result his music reflects some of the styles which were in vogue elsewhere. In his sacred music he often makes use of the technique of cori spezzati as practiced in Venice around 1600. The four antiphons on this disc are all written in this style. It is applied in various ways. In Regina coeli the two choirs are used antiphonally, whereas in Salve Regina one choir has to sing from a distance, as a kind of echo of the first choir.

The two masses recorded here are part of a collection of six, composed in the first six modes. They were considered being lost, but it has been possible to perform them on the basis of manuscripts from several archives in Catalonia. Four of the masses are for four voices, the two masses on this disc are in five parts, with two sopranos. Interestingly one of the soprano is treated as a soloist, and in his programme notes Josep Dolcet argues that it "dialogues and responds to the tutti-chorus" "as if it were a separated chorus".

The contemporary practice of using a basso continuo also has left its mark in the music on this disc. All pieces have such a part, but in this recording no further instruments are used, for instance to play colla voce. The decision to perform this music with voices only is questionable. It is known that the monastery of Montserrat had a pretty large number of various string and wind instruments at its disposal, and these could be used even if the score didn't specifically ask for them.

The actual performance isn't really of the highest order either. The singers use too much vibrato, in particular in the Missa Martyrum; for some reason the other mass fares considerably better. This is also due to the soloist: Maria Casado who sings the solo part in the Missa Angelorum is stylistically ahead of Anna Fernāndez, who takes the soli in the Missa Martyrum.

Considering the small number of sacred compositions by Cererols which have been preserved these six masses are an important addition to the catalogue. One has to hope some day a really good recording of all six masses is going to be released. In the meantime we have to do with what is offered here, and despite my critical remarks I commend this disc, in particular to those who have a special interest in music of the Iberian peninsula.

Johan van Veen (Š 2009)

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