Francisco Guerrero is, in my viewpoint, not behind Victoria in terms of compositional achievement. A skillful musician (he played vihuela, harp, cornetto and organ), he worked in some of the most destinguished Spanish cathedrals like Jáen (where he took the post of maestro di capilla at seventeen years old) and Seville. He also visited the Holy Land and planned to visit it again, when he died in 1599.
The motet Maria Magdalena comes from the 1570 book of motets (published in Venice) and is set for 6 voices (SSATTB). Composers like the Spanish Alonso Lobo and Spanish-born Francisco Garro, who was master of the Portuguese Royal Chapell, wrote parody masses using Guerrero’s motet as a model. Listening to it we can immediately understand why this happened: a “gold mine” of motives which sound really well.
In this 2-part motet (here performed by The Tallis Scholars, under the direction of Peter Philips), we have a clear idea of the power a 6-part texture motet gives, and Guerrero masterfully mixes these textures without any repetition of musical material along almost 8 minutes of sound. Here Guerrero describes Mary Magdelene visit to the tomb of Jesus. At the end of the second part one can feel a strong presence of compositional techniques very close to the ones used in the madrigal. One cannot forget that Guerrero himself has wonderful secular songs, the Villanescas.