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Eighth album from the collection 'Música Poética' (Poetic Music)

This joint project of the CSIC and Lauda Música is aiming at recovering musical heritage and rescue from oblivion many works found in libraries and archives throughout Spain.  The latest record is dedicated to Alonso Lobo, one of the masters of Renaissance.


The CD was launched last 11th December at the Teatro Real in Madrid.Alonso Lobo (1555-1617) was one of the most renowned Spanish composers of the Renaissance, contemporary with El Greco in Toledo.  As a matter of fact, the recovery of those works is part of the forthcoming commemoration of the 4th centenary of Doménico Theotocópuli, El Greco.

The works, ‘Prudentes virgines’ and ‘Beata Dei genitrix’, are part of the ‘Liber Primus Missarum’, a compilation of masses from the same author published in 1602. They have been recovered by the research team in Poetic Music (CSIC-UB) led by musicologist Mariano Lambea, who works for the Institución Milá y Fontanals of the CSIC. Mariano Lambea has transcribed the ancient scores and musician Albert Recasens has been in charge of the musical aspects of the project.  Recasens conducts La Grande Chapelle, an ancient music ensemble. The CD has been released by the label Lauda Música, within the Collection ‘Música Poética’ (Poetic Music).

The recovery of both masses — which had not been released in a modern edition, nor executed or recorded till present — represents an action of great musicological, scientific and artistic value.

Both have been chosen by Albert Recasens among the six masses that constitute the ‘Liber Primus Missarum’.  In all the pieces of that work, Lobo adopted the then usual technique of ‘parody’ or ‘imitation’, which consists in imitating a pre-existent polyphonic work, using the same voices, but with free passages distant from the original model.  In those imitation masses he used a wide range of counterpoint resources, although he achieved the most outstanding results with the masses ‘Prudentes virgines’ and ‘Beata Dei genitrix’.

Mariano Lambea points out as a characteristic of those works that they “include the so-called ‘enigmatic canons’, which was usual at that time and roughly consisted in giving musical indications with a kind of cryptic and symbolic system so as to make them more attractive to musicians, who had to decipher those hints”.

Kapellmeister in Toledo and Sevilla

Alonso Lobo de Borja (ca. 1555-1617), born in Osuna (Sevilla), was the Kapellmeister at the cathedrals of Toledo and Sevilla since he was very young.  He was one of the few Spanish composers in charge of music teaching in both metropolitan cathedrals.  As El Greco, he spent the most fruitful years of his artistic creation (1593-1604) in Toledo and he wrote there his famous ‘Liber primus missarum’ (First book of masses), published by the Imprenta Real (Royal Printing House).  About ten copies of this work have been preserved in archives and cathedrals in Spain, besides Rome and Coimbra (Portugal).

As musicologist Lambea points out, ‘the fact that so many copies have been kept proves that the work of Lobo was significant and enjoyed a well-deserved renown’.  Besides that, he adds, ‘there are witnesses in that time who confirm Lobo’s prestige’. Among those we can find Lope de Vega, who praised Alonso Lobo’s musical quality.

Lobo is considered as one of the great masters of Spanish polyphony of the Renaissance. Nevertheless, his fame has not reached the present, probably because he has been upstaged by three other great musicians from the same time: Francisco Guerrero (of whom he was a disciple), Cristobal de Morales and Tomás Luis de Victoria.

That is the eighth record released within the framework of this project and compilation ‘Música Poética’ (Poetic Music) and has been funded by the Comunidad de Madrid  and the Fundación El Greco  2014. The whole project ‘Música Poética’ has counted on 16 sponsors so far. The story of that collection started a few years ago, when the researchers of the musicology department met musician Angel Recasens, a Catalan who lives in Belgium, conductor of the ensemble La Grande Chapelle. That meeting resulted in a continuous cooperation and, later, the release of ‘Música Poética’ (Poetic Music), a collection by the CSIC and Lauda Música.