Sacred music occupied an important role in 16th-century Spain, but there is much evidence that secular vocal polyphony held a place in society too. Such music is to be found in the little-known Juan Vázquez’s Recopilación which dates from around 1560; as well as canciones and soneto-madrigals, the collection includes various villancicos – the main focus of this recording – then a popular style of song and which Vázquez clearly overhauled through replacing endless repetition with melodic and rhythmic variety. That Vázquez’s contribution to the genre was both popular and significant (he wrote over 90 in total, most of which were set to texts by leading Spanish poets of the day) is demonstrated by the many later arrangements of his villancicos for vocal soloists with vihuela accompaniment.
Performing these highly engaging, deftly written works are the Dutch vocal group Quink, founded in 1978 and ranking among the world’s best a cappella ensembles. The recording, which can only serve to increase our appreciation for this largely-forgotten composer, underlines the group’s astonishing variety of tonal colour – of their Benjamin Britten CD, the New York Times drew attention to Quink’s ‘elegant phrasing, impeccable intonation and a purity of tone reminiscent of Renaissance madrigals.’
- Recordinged on 3–5 November 2009, Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam.
- Little is known about the life of Spanish composer Juan Vasquez (fl. 16th century). A skilled and successful composer in the service of the King of Spain. His compositions are mainly secular, in the form of polyphonic madrigals and ‘Villancicos’, popular songs set for a vocal ensemble of 4 or 5 voices. The madrigals are on poetic texts by well known poets like Boscan and Garcilaso. The Villancicos are based on folk music and traditional texts, music brimming with joy, happiness and Spanish vitality!
- Superb performances by Dutch vocal group Quink, celebrating their 25th anniversary.
- Booklet contains excellent liner notes, and the sung texts in original language.