The motet Veni Domine by Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero is, in my opinion, one of his finest works. The text “Veni Domine et noli tardare” was set to polyphony by numerous Spanish composers: Cristóbal de Morales (with 2 settings), Juan Esquível, and Guerrero. The five-voice (SSATB) motet by Guerrero was published in his 1555 Sacrae cantiones printed in Seville.
The work, intended for Advent (In Adventu), features a technique that is also present in Morales’s and Esquível’s settings: an ostinato setting the words “Veni Domine, et noli tardare”, using one motive for “Veni Domine” and another for “et noli tardare”. The two motives appear mostly in the Cantus II. This motet was used by Portuguese composer Filipe de Magalhães (c.1571-1652) as a model for a 4-voice mass (the identification of the model was made by English musicologist Owen Rees).
The video I’m sharing, a live recording by Musica Temprana, is quite interesting due to various aspects. First, we can view and hear a reconstruction of the participation of instruments in the liturgical context: the sackbutt and cornett ensemble, the organ, the harp and the bajón. Second, it is also interesting in terms of music analysis because you can hear how the work develops in terms of musical writing. Guerrero used a soggetto ostinato, a leading motive which is repeated throughout the motet. This is present in the singers, who repeat it every time it appears in the score.
This is one of Guerrero’s finest motets. It is noteworthy the live performance, especially all the cornetto improvisation.
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