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Juan García DE SALAZAR (1639 - 1710): "In Dominica Palmarum"

La Grande Chapelle; Schola Antiqua (Juan Carlos Asensio)
Dir: Albert Recasens

rec: March 14 - 15, 2010, Valladolid, Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes
Lauda - LAU011 (© 2010) (71'52")
Liner-notes: E/D/F/S; lyrics - translations: E/F/S
Cover & track-list

(in order of appearance)
[Benedictio Palmarum] Juan García DE SALAZAR: Asperges me; plainchant: Hosanna filio David [1]; [Distributio Palmarum] Juan García DE SALAZAR: Pueri Hebraeorum portantes a 8; Pueri Hebraeorum vestimenta a 8; [Ad Processionem] plainchant: Cum approprinquaret [1]; [Ante portam ecclesiam] Juan García DE SALAZAR: Gloria laus a 8; [Ad processionem in ecclesiam] Juan García DE SALAZAR: Ingrediente Domino a 8 - : Cum audisset populus [1]; Antonio BROCARTE (1629-1696): Obra de lleno de primer tono; [Ad missam] plainchant: Domine, ne longe facias; Juan García DE SALAZAR: Misa de 8o tono a 4 (Kyrie); Vos amici mei a 4; plainchant [1]/Juan García DE SALAZAR: Passio Domini nostri Iesu Christi secundum Matthaeum a 4; Juan García DE SALAZAR: Christus factus est; Misa de 8o tono (Sanctus); Da pacem, Domine a 4; Misa de 8o tono (Agnus Dei); plainchant: Pater, si non potest; Benedicamus Domino; Juan García DE SALAZAR: Caelestis urbs Ierusalem a 4; [Ad vesperas] plainchant [1]/Juan García DE SALAZAR: Vexilla regis a 4; [Motete] Juan García DE SALAZAR: Maria Magdalena a 4

Source: [1] Juan Rodríguez de Villamayor, ed, Passionarium cum officio maioris hebdomade ..., 1576

Robin Tyson, Gabriel Díaz Cuesta, alto (cantus); Daniel Collins, Owen Willetts, alto (altus); James Oxley, Simon Wall, tenor; Matthew Baker, Nick Perfect, bass; Gebhard David, cornett; Bernhard Ortner, Hans Peter Gaiswinkler, sackbut; Bárbara Sela, bajón; Siobhan Armstrong, harp; Herman Stinders, organ

A large corpus of liturgical music from all ages has come down to us. Many recordings are made in which this kind of repertoire is presented, mostly as independent pieces. Now and then performers make an attempt to present music within a liturgical context. That is useful in that it sheds light on the very raison d'être of this music. Such reconstructions are often largely speculative as we mostly don't have that much information in regard to what music was performed and how.

So some extent this reconstruction of the celebrations on Palm Sunday in the Spanish city of Zamora is speculative as well, in particular in regard to the music which is chosen from the oeuvre of Juan García de Salazar. But as a matter of good luck we are rather well informed about what these celebrations looked like. It begins with a procession which is described in a document of the 13th century. It is especially interesting, as the liner-notes point out, "that the ceremony commemorating the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem during which the Gloria laus is sung, was not carried out in front of the doors of a church, as the majority of extent [sic] documentation available elsewhere attests, but rather took place outside one of the gates in the city wall; something which underlines the theatrical nature of the representation". If that is not enough, the city's merino mayor (an official chosen by the king with wide jurisdiction over his territory) Antonio Moreno de la Torre kept a diary in the 1670s in which he describes in detail day to day life in the city. This document shows that not much had changed in the celebrations on Palm Sunday since the 13th century.

These documents allow to present music for the various stages of the celebrations. The reconstruction isn't complete by any means. For instance, the Vespers which end the celebrations are confined to just one piece, the hymn Vexilla regis. But we get here at least a good impression of the character of the celebrations on Palm Sunday in Zamora. The polyphony is chosen from the oeuvre of Juan García de Salazar. He was born in Tuesta in Álava and became a choirboy at Burgos Cathedral, where he studied with maestro de capilla Francisco Ruiz Samaniego. Between 1661 and 1668 he acted as maestro de capilla at the collegiate church in Toro and at El Burgo de Osma cathedral. From 1668 until his death in 1710 he held the same position at Zamora Cathedral. A large number of his sacred music has been preserved, whereas many of his villancicos have been lost. As so many composers in the southern European countries he wrote most of his sacred music in the stile antico. Scorings for eight voices in two choirs are frequent in his oeuvre - quite common in Spain in the 17th century. In this kind of pieces homophony dominates. The use of instruments like cornett, sackbuts, bajón and harp in Zamora is documented, and therefore these are frequently used in this recording. They play either colla voce or replace one or all of the voices.

The disc begins with the blessing of the palms - we hear two antiphons. The first, Asperges me, embraces one of the penitential psalms, Miserere mei Deus, of which only the first line and the doxology are performed. The palms were then handed out to the ministers (Distributio palmarum. Two antiphons in eight-part settings by Salazar are sung. The procession begins, and we hear the antiphon Cum appropinquaret: "Approaching Jerusalem Jesus sent sent out two of his disciples" to collect a donkey which he will use to enter Jerusalem. "Once they arrived at the door of the cathedral the most common procedure was that the succentor (...) or various singers entered the interior of the church. The door was closed and the hymn Gloria laus (...) was sung in the responsory fashion - that is to say with different groups alternating call and response" (Ante portam eccelesiam). We hear Salazar's setting for eight voices. The procession then entered the church (Ad processionem in ecclesiam) and the responsory Ingrediente Domino was sung: "When He entered the holy city, the Hebrew children shouted: Hosanna in the highest".

Next the mass is celebrated. Information about the kind of music performed during mass comes from various ecclesiastical documents. Before mass starts an organ piece is played. Here a piece by Antonio de Brocarte is chosen, uncle of Antonio de la Cruz Brocarte, who was organist at Zamora Cathedral in Salazar's time. For the Ordinary the Misa de octavo tono a 4 by Salazar has been chosen. The Gloria is omitted because it was not part of the mass between Ash Wednesday and Easter Eve. The Credo is also left out - the liner notes don't tell us why. The largest part of the mass is a reading of the St Matthew Passion. It is in plainchant, but in a tradition which was unique to Spain. The turbae are the only parts in polyphony, here in settings by Salazar. The Passion is not complete, though; several passages are left out. The mass includes some of his compositions which are performed here instrumentally.

As I already indicated, the Vespers which close the celebrations, are confined to the hymn Vexilla regis. This has seven stanzas; Salazar only set the second, and this is also used for the fourth stanza, whereas the sixth is performed insstrumentally. The other stanzas are sung in plainchant.

The disc concludes with a piece for Easter - through a longer pause it is clearly distinguished from the music for Palm Sunday. The motet Maria Magdalena describes the meeting of "Mary Magdalene and the other Maria" with the angel who tells them that Christ is risen and will meet them in Galilee. It is a four-part piece, performed here with voices and instruments.

Albert Recasens is one of the most active performers who explores Spanish religious music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of his recordings are devoted to hardly-known composers, and it doesn't surprise that the music on this disc has been recorded for the first time. Recasens can rely on his ensemble La Grande Chapelle which includes fine singers and instrumentalists, who have a good feeling for this kind of repertoire. In previous reviews I have sung their praises, and I am ready to do so once again. I have greatly enjoyed this disc, which brings music of high quality. Because of the liturgical context and its historical background this is an exciting recording. The booklets of this ensemble's discs are always exemplary and include all the relevant information about the music and the composer as well as a list with sources and a bibliography. This production is another jewel in the crown of La Grande Chapelle.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)

Relevant links:

La Grande Chapelle

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