Under strong Flemish influence, Spanish composers of real quality and pronounced character emerged at the end of the fifteenth century, associated with the royal chapels of Ferdinand and Isabella and with the choirs of the great cathedrals, notably Toledo and Seville. Francisco de Peñalosa shares pre-eminence with some fine contemporaries such as the Basque Juan de Anchieta, the Portuguese Pedro de Escobar and the dramatist and secular composer Juan del Encina. This was a period when increasing numbers of Spaniards were recruited to the Papal Choir, many, but not all, being notable falsettists.
Peñalosa was born probably in 1470 and almost certainly at Talavera de la Reina, near Madrid. The earliest document referring to him is dated 11 May 1498 when he was accepted as a singer in the chapel of Ferdinand V of Aragon; in 1511 he was appointed maestro de capilla in the household of Ferdinand’s grandson. He became associated with the Cathedral of Seville by the gift of a ‘benefice canonry’. But this was to cause intermittent trouble due to long absences to which the Seville Chapter objected, despite even the Pope’s requests for tolerance of a prolonged period in Rome. Peñalosa certainly visited Seville in 1516 after Ferdinand’s death, but was in Rome from 1517 until 1525 when he returned to Seville. There he was at last in residence and actually became Cathedral Treasurer, a position held until his death.
Peñalosa: “Ne reminiscaris, Domine”
Bruno Turner and the Pro Cantione Antiqua are quickly becoming one of my favorite groups. Their style is understated but very expressive. The male OVPP group sings Renaissance polyphony with clarity and beauty.