Diogo Dias Melgaz ❧ Salve Regina

The motet Salve Regina, for four voices, is probably Diogo Dias Melgaz’s best-known work. Melgaz was born in the Alentejo village of Cuba in 1638 and died in Évora in 1700 and is one of the Évora Cathedral composers whose most musical output has survived to this day.

Among the dozens of works we find this setting of the Salve Regina antiphon which is one of his finest musical achievements. The work is set for four voices (SATB) and, besides the manuscript from the Évora Cathedral musical archive, there are also later copies in the Patriarcal musical archive in Lisbon.

The chant melody is introduced in strict imitation as the first segment of the piece, but only briefly each voice repeating the text “Salve Regina” only two or three times. After “Mater”, things begin to look a bit different than they look in the opening. This segment introduces what is, in my opinion, one of Melgaz finest composition. After the deceiving chant imitation, he begins to work on a set of segments searching for a music/text effect, often contrasting a segment with the following one. This is present at “suspiramus” to “gementes et flentes”. Here the finishing segment often set rhythmically in seminimas (interspersed with rest) gives ay to a new segmente where semibreves are the most used rhythmic figures. The final segment is set again in strict imitation, as a sort of finale with very strong entries on the text “Virgo Maria”.