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 sonetomadrigals, 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.
This double album from the Accent label collects two single recordings, one made in Ghent in 1994, the other in Corsica and Frankfurt in 2003 and 2005. The second shares only a few musicians with the first but is essentially made of the same stuff, so you might wonder what exactly is added. The pieces on the second CD are generally longer, more serious, and more intricate.