Coming releases


A colourful and revolutionary reading of Murcia’s “Cifras Selectas de Guitarra”. 


In 1722, one of the most extraordinary Baroque guitarists, the Madrid musician Santiago de Murcia, carefully copied and prepared a manuscript entitled Cifras Selectas de Guitarra, which was bound with a copy of another of his works, Resumen de acompañar. … In this 1722 manuscript he included a very important introduction explaining the notation used, and various refined technical aspects, such as “hold the right hand in the air except when playing loudly…” and many other pieces of advice of great relevance to performers. We do not know its addressee, but it seems proven that Santiago de Murcia sent this manuscript to America.

Musicology had completely ignored its existence until 2004, when the scholar Alejandro Vera found it in an archive in Santiago de Chile. It is one of the most relevant documentary sources of the Madrid composer’s music, as it not only includes a good number of pieces unknown until its discovery in Chile, but also offers alternative versions of works included in other previously discovered documentary sources from Santiago de Murcia, such as the manuscripts known as Passacalles y obras de guitarra, from 1732, and the famous Códice Saldivar no. 4. 4, also probably from the same year, acquired by the Mexican musicologist Gabriel Saldívar in 1943. But there are also several concordances with a much earlier anonymous collection, the Book of different guitar numbers, from 1705, which obviously now suggest that this manuscript collection is much more closely related to this extraordinary musician from Madrid than previously thought.

Practically none of the new material in Cifras Selectas de Guitarra had been recorded until now, and this project proposes the recovery of part of its content, and that of other collections from Murcia, taking into account the most recent (and revolutionary) information provided not only by the manuscript, but also by the research carried out by the world’s most important specialists in various archives in Madrid, Chile, Mexico and France, which present us with a completely different, much richer and more complete image of Santiago de Murcia, of his work and of how he performed them, both as a soloist and in the company of other musicians. Thus, we find a very colourful Santiago de Murcia, who seeks very rich sonorities, and who is steeped in the influences of French music and the harmonic novelties of his time. Moreover, the fact that his music circulated so widely in America (from Mexico to Chile!) allows us to let our imagination and imagination run wild and associate his rediscovery with interpretations charged with the influence of the rhythms of American popular music, as they most probably sounded at the time on that continent.

José Carlos Cabello, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, text revised January 2024