No one knew it was there. Or almost no one. And now, after a long effort, the group Antiqva shape publishes an amazing album (on the German label Winter Winter) with eleven symphonies by the Valencian Vicente Baset, composer and violinist in Madrid in the first half of the 18th century. A wonderful music that has nothing to envy to the Vivaldi, Telemann, Boccherini or Scarlatti. A treasure that was lost. And how many more will there be?

The Spanish Austrian kings were great protectors of painting. From its impressive collections came most of the Prado Museum. But the Bourbons, from Felipe V onwards (early 18th), they were much more fond of music. Italy was the musical mecca of the world at that time, and they came to Spain, brought by successive kings, figuras as Farinelli, Jacome Facco, Domenico Scarlatti, Luigi Boccherini and dozens more.

They wrote the Spanish ‘great music’ of the 18th. But not all, far from it. There were also great Spanish composers. Today we remember Santiago de Murcia, Sebastián de Albero, José de Nebra, Antonio de Literes, Father Antonio Soler and… how many more? Where was Vicente Baset at? And how many more are there to discover?

Aaron Zapico (Langreo, Asturias, 1978) has spent half of his life at the helm of the Forma Antiqva group, made up of his brothers Pablo and Daniel, also musicians, and later an undetermined number of interpreters who are called based on the works to be played. But Forma Antiqva is one more –of the best, of course, and one of the most prestigious in Europe– of the dozens of Spanish groups dedicated to investigation, recovery and interpretation of an immense treasure that remains hidden: old Spanish music, from the 18th century backwards.

antiqva shape

  • Baroque music group.
It is a group of variable formation, resident of the Grup Camera, in which the Asturian brothers Pablo, Daniel and Aarón Zapico play. They have been in business for 20 years and have played, among other venues, at the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, ​​the Frick Collection in New York and the York Early Music Festival in the United Kingdom.

The work of Vicente Baset (1719-1764), Valencian violinist who played at the court and in the theaters of Madrid in the times of Felipe V and Fernando VI, was “buried” in the National Library, who bought it from a German antiquarian, and from the Swedish State Library. Surely no one alive today had ever heard a note from Vicente Baset.

When Aarón Zapico had those scores in his hands and began to read them, he couldn’t believe it. “I know you don’t have to make comparisons,” he laughs, “but that was delicious. A Spaniard with a clear Italian influence, like everyone else in his time, that I had nothing to envy Vivaldi, Albinoni, Corelli, any. That guy wrote twelve symphonies and we keep eleven. Eleven wonders that we have finally managed to record. I did tests with the orchestra to see if it would hold, as I believed, or if I was imagining it. And boy did he hold out. It was unbelievable. So we decided to record it. That music had to be known to people. “

In Spain, it’s not that you kick a stone and an 18th century composer comes out, but almost. There are almost 100 cathedrals in our country and an infinity of great temples that worked two centuries ago, or three, or four. There, the chapelmasters – and not only them – wrote vast amounts of music that was archived, or simply stored, and forgotten.

“Why did he forget? I don’t know. The Spanish have always tended to appreciate the outside more”

British, Germans, French, Italians and many more have carefully cataloged their musical history. We do not. And today is the day that nobody knows what is there. “It is difficult to enter the archives of the cathedrals”Zapico laments, “the Church often causes problems. And the treasure that they undoubtedly hold must be enormous. We have been working for twenty years to recover it – in temples, archives, libraries, wherever – and we have found incredible things. But no Every day a Vicente Baset appears, who He was a splendid violinist and it is clear that a great composer. Why did you forget? I do not know. The Spanish have always tended to appreciate what is outside more than what we do. “

Is the public interested in this type of music? “Of course I do,” says Zapico, because Many peoplehas been creating an audience that loves early music for years. Now there are specialized centers where you can study this music and learn its instruments, and that did not exist a few years ago. Those who are interested in her they are usually young people, which is undoubtedly a guarantee of continuity. But institutional support is lacking, despite the results. Spain has improved a lot in its musical education, but we are still light years away from other countries ».

The album has been sponsored by BBVA. How much does it cost to engrave a jewel like this? Aarón Zapico smiles: “Less than 40,000 euros. It does not arrive”. That is the price of recovering treasures of our history. And there will be those who find it a lot.