SALAZAR: Complete Vespers of Our Lady (Capilla Penaflorida/ Javier Sarasua/ Josep Cabre/ Ministriles de Marsias/ Teije van Geest) (Naxos: 8.555907)
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Juan Garcia de Salazar (1639-1710)
Complete Vespers of Our Lady
Juan Garcia de Salazar was born in Tuesta, a village inthe Basque province of ?ülava, in 1639. Known to havebeen working in Burgos Cathedral at the age of nineteen,he may have received his musical training at thecollegiate church of Valpuesta. He was employed asmaestro de capilla in Toro and El Burgo de Osma beforetaking on the same post at Zamora Cathedral and servingthere until his death in 1710. He is one of Spain's mostsignificant composers of Baroque religious music; someof his works were still being performed in Spanishchurches well into the nineteenth century. Most of hisworks are held in the cathedral archives in Zamora,although he remained in contact with the churches in ElBurgo de Osma and Burgos, sending them copies ofsome of his compositions.
Under the title Complete Vespers for Our Lady theZamora catalogue groups the polyphonic music Salazarwrote for three of the five psalms sung during that office(Psalms 109, Dixit Dominus, 121, Laetatus sum, and 147,Lauda Jerusalem) together with the Magnificat. It wasusual at the time for these psalms to be setpolyphonically but for the two remaining psalms (Psalms112, Laudate pueri, and 126, Nisi Dominus) and thevarious antiphons, invitatories, responsories and prayersto be sung in plainchant. The music in a Vespers servicewas not however limited to these sung sections: thehymn Ave maris stella and motets whose texts related tothe feast-day in question would often be included as well.
Instrumental music was sometimes provided betweenvocal sections by the organist and any other musiciansinvolved in the ceremony. It was also common practicefor the organ to alternate with the singers in intoning thepsalms so that some were sung in plainchant, whileothers were replaced by organ music, often improvised,although some composed pieces have survived.
These are the guidelines we have used to establish acoherent musical programme for a Vespers service,without attempting an exact liturgical reconstruction.
Our aim in shaping this programme was to useappropriate material; as far as music by Garcia deSalazar himself is concerned therefore, our first concernwas to select works setting Marian texts and, wherepossible, forming part of the Vespers office; secondly,we looked for pieces written for more than four voicesas the psalms and Magnificat are composed for eight.
Although a reasonable number of Garcia deSalazar's works are extant, the catalogue does notprovide enough material for the full service. There areno instrumental works for example, and none written inCastilian other than two Salves [a form of antiphon] andone tono humano [a secular song]. We thereforedecided to transcribe some of his motets forinstrumental performance. Then we looked to works byhis contemporaries working in more or less the sameregion of Spain -- the organ verses are by MartinGarcia de Olag??e (fl. seventeenth/eighteenth century),probably from Navarre, while the Batalla, also for theorgan, is by the Aragonese Jose Ximenez (Saragossa,1601-72), who was the organist at Saragossa Cathedralduring Garcia de Salazar's years in Zamora.
It only remains to say that the plainchant includedin these Vespers is taken from a choirbook dated 1692and originally used in the Franciscan convent ofVitoria-Gasteiz (?ülava). The convent was demolishedsome time ago and the book is currently held in thecity's San Vicente parish church.Manuel Sagastume Arregi