‹‹ JSCM Issues

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 11 (2005) No. 1

Pièces de clavecin ca 1670–1685: fac-similé du manuscrit, Bibliothèque du Conservatoire Royal/Koninklijk Conservatorium, Bruxelles, Ms 27220. Introduction by David Fuller. Geneva: Minkoff, 2003. [l, 212 pp. ISBN 2-8266-0964-5. €100.]

Jean Henry d’Anglebert, Pièces de clavecin. Introduction by Denis Herlin. Geneva: Minkoff, 2001. [xxxii, 134 pp. ISBN 2-8266-0986-6. €54.]

Nicolas de Grigny, Premier Livre d’orgue: Édition originale, 1699; Copie manuscrite de J.S. Bach; Copie manuscrite de J.G. Walther. Presented by Pierre Hardouin, Philippe Lescat, Jean Saint-Arroman, and Jean-Christophe Tosi. Courlay: Éditions J.M. Fuzeau, 2001. [xlviii, 68, 72, 70 pp. ISMN M 2306-5629-0. €73.20.]

Reviewed by David Ledbetter*

1. B-Bc Ms. 27220

2. D’Anglebert

3. Grigny


1. B-Bc Ms. 27220

1.1 This is an important source for works of Chambonnières and for keyboard arrangements from Lully’s stage works. In addition, it has a few isolated pieces attributed to Richard, the lutenist Pinel, and Monnard that crop up in many other sources, and numerous arrangements of popular dance and air melodies. It therefore reflects the sort of harpsichord repertory circulating in Paris in the 1670s and 80s. Its provenance is obscure, but it came to the Brussels Conservatory from the collection of Guido Richard Wagener, professor of anatomy at Marburg, around the time of his death in 1896. The manuscript has suffered water damage, apparently after rebinding around 1910. Brussels 27220 missed inclusion in Bruce Gustafson’s 1979 catalogue of seventeenth-century French harpsichord sources, but is inventoried in Appendix C of the eighteenth-century catalogue (1990).1 David Fuller has mildly revised some of the hand identifications in his introduction to the facsimile, and greatly extended the list of concordances.

1.2 As for origins, there are two main hands, identified as Hand A and Hand E in both catalogue and introduction. Of these, Hand A is also found in two sources of organ music from the circle of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers (F-Pn Rés. 476, and Rés. 2094) and shares with Nivers the particularity of notating both trill and mordent with the same sign of a wavy line, above the note for the cadence and below it for the agrément. Not much can be deduced from the paper, supplied by Ballard and dating from “the second half of the seventeenth century,” so our most likely dating clues lie in the arrangements by Lully. These cover a wide span, from 1658 (Ballet d’Alcidiane) to 1681 (Le Triomphe de l’amour). However, the entries of Hands A and E respectively do not appear to have been made over a long period of time, and Lully concordances for Hand A cluster from 1668 (Le Carnaval) to 1671 (Psyché), while those for Hand E cluster from 1679 (Bellérophon) to 1681. The few entries by Hands B and C (possibly the same) and D are from the eighteenth century.

1.3 The majority of the Chambonnières pieces were entered by Hand A, presumably in the early 1670s, yet they were certainly not copied from Chambonnières’s two printed Livres of 1670. They also have many differences of detail from the other main manuscript versions in the Bauyn and Parville manuscripts.2 A peculiarity of Brussels 27220 is the spacial notation of brisure, not bothering with elaborate rests and ties. It probably derives from the notation of unmeasured preludes, and is a type of notation that otherwise features only in poor-quality sources. Brussels 27220 tends to have more ornaments than the others, and to write out Chambonnières’s pre-beat port-de-voix. Here his Sarabande Jeunes Zéphirs (no. 96) has two doubles for the petite reprise, one written dotted and one as straight eighths, perhaps further evidence for playing dances three times in the pattern AABBAB, as is often the case with d’Anglebert. In this piece Chambonnières’s own engraved version has a subtlety of texture that the Bauyn and Parville versions iron out into more grammatical four voices.

1.4 One of the most valuable aspects of this manuscript is its unique and anonymous unmeasured preludes. They are probably the work, as are many of the tune settings, of Hand A. These preludes are brief and functional, but of good quality, and might serve well to introduce a suite of Chambonnières from whom we have no preludes. There is no reason why Chambonnières himself would not have improvised such preludes since semi-measured preludes go back in lute sources to the 1610s. He may have thought that anybody capable of playing his pieces properly would be capable of making up their own preludes. Written preludes were considered material for beginners into the eighteenth century, as François Couperin tells us.3 These ones have the merit, with their tenues, ensemble signs and dots, of telling us a surprising amount about their performance, with an elegant lack of notational clutter. The dots, however, are mysterious. Traditionally in French notation they could be fingerings; or imply a slight lengthening, as in François Couperin’s “les Sentimens” (Book 1, 1713); or a shortening, as in Couperin’s aspiration. Meditative playing has led me to believe that these dots are the opposite of tenues, i.e. they are meant to indicate notes not to be held. They generally apply to neighbor notes, not part of the chord to be sustained, or scale segments, where they may also have the implication of notes égales.

1.5 I can add a few lute concordances to those listed by David Fuller:

Brussels 27220



p. 25: Menuez

F-B ms.279.153 (Saizenay 2) p. 41: Menuet

a parallel melody setting

pp. 122–3: Courante

A-GÖ ms.Lautentabulatur Nr.1 ff.16v–17: Courante de Chambonier4

Chambonnières’s “Courante Iris”

p. 117: Sarabande

Œuvres de Pinel (Paris: CNRS, 1982), no. 66: Sarabande avec double

an interesting comparison in that the Brussels keyboard version is plainly the same piece, but with a much more elaborate melodic line

1.6 All in all the impression given by Brussels 27220 is of a slightly homely version of the repertory in Bauyn and Parville. An Allemande of Louis Couperin elsewhere in B-flat is given here in C major (no. 33). The popular Sarabande attributed to Monnard (no. 4) lacks the rhythmic subtlety of the Bauyn version in a piece that is otherwise too banal. The anonymous F-major Chaconne that looks like Louis Couperin but is only ever attributed to Chambonnières (no. 52) is simpler in texture here. But of course, how much does the notation really tell us about performance? No doubt the more distinguished the player, the more different the performance would be.

1.7 My main cavil is, as ever, Minkoff’s use of the word “fac-similé.”5 Anybody interested in this manuscript will have had prints from Brussels which are essentially photographs of the book as it lies open on a flat surface. This means that the physical aspect of the book is clearly visible—tears, blotches, water damage, and all. Most crucially, it is quite clear where the edge of the page is and where the binder has cut away part of the notation. Minkoff would with more justice say “fac-sanitaire.” These are essentially photocopies rather than quality photographic images, and give nothing of the texture of the original, differentiation of inks, or the difference between pencil and pen. How is it that others have produced high-quality facsimiles at a fraction of Minkoff’s cost? In this one there has been a lot of tidying up of appearances, including deleting essential notation: on page 94, for example, dots have been deleted after the initial right-hand quarter notes in the first two measures; on page 11, beginning of the top system, a tenue slur has had the upper part of its curve cut off by the binder. What has happened is perfectly clear in the prints, where you can see the edge of the page, but in this facsimile the edges of pages are invisible (untidy), and a tidying hand has adjusted the remaining ends of the slur to look like two separate slurs. Numerous stems and beams have been cut from the tops of pages when they were trimmed for binding. Again, what has happened is clear in the prints, but the result is puzzling in the facsimile. In order to tidy up the edges, more of the page has been cut away, so, for example, on page 77, measure 4, what was clearly a half note in the prints looks like a whole note in the facsimile. This urge to conceal, rather than reveal, the appearance of the source severely compromises the usefulness of these facsimiles for any serious purpose. I suppose their main function is to give a basic graphic impression of the original, so much more suggestive than an edition. Editions, too, tend to obscure genre distinctions represented, for example, in the clefs of the original notation.

2. D’Anglebert

2.1 A facsimile by Fuzeau of d’Anglebert’s 1689 Pièces, together with his autograph manuscript F-Pn Rés. 89ter, was reviewed by Kenneth Gilbert in JSCM 6, no. 2, to which the reader is referred for much useful background information. Minkoff, with the expert guidance of Denis Herlin, has opted for the only available copy of the first issue of the first edition of the Pièces that has both of the Mignard/Vermeulen engraved illustrations (Belluno, Italy, Museo Civico). Fuzeau copied NL-DHgm 27 B 15, which has neither. A further facsimile, of the second edition (after 1693), with only the portrait of d’Anglebert, was published by Broude Brothers (New York) in 1965.

2.2 The main selling point of the Minkoff facsimile is the exemplary introduction by Denis Herlin, covering printing history, d’Anglebert’s importance in the history of keyboard notation, and musical issues. There is a good English translation of this by Mary Criswick. I had forgotten how pejorative James Anthony’s assessment of d’Anglebert was, in a book that is a standard text for students.6 D’Anglebert’s Pièces is without a doubt one of the most important publications of keyboard music in the seventeenth century, both for its musical quality and also for the care and precision with which he included performance information in the notation. J.S. Bach copied out the table of ornaments, but the objectives of these two musicians are in many ways opposite, and it is quite wrong to judge this collection according to Bach’s concept of the suite. D’Anglebert’s essential quality is elusive and there are very few who can convey it in performance. He has a nobility and repose, often seeming suspended in time, that is the best the French Baroque has to offer, and in comparison with which the driving motor energy of the Italians seems vulgar.

2.3 Choosing the very first issue to reproduce has the disadvantage of reproducing errors that were subsequently corrected. Herlin lists the most important of these, and Gilbert includes a detailed list in his edition.7 However, Minkoff’s reproduction is fuzzy and in places illegible, and hardly gives an impression of the extreme elegance of the original. Compare the first system of page 4 in the Minkoff and Broude versions. Apart from Minkoff’s generally poor quality, d’Anglebert’s complex and differentiated trill signs are unintelligible since they come out as dots. If you buy this for the introduction you will also need a better-quality facsimile to interpret the music.

3. Grigny

3.1 In contrast to Denis Herlin’s highly focused introduction to d’Anglebert’s Pièces, many cooks have contributed to the extensive introductory materials for Grigny’s Livre d’orgue, which are well translated into English by Emer Buckley. Philippe Lescat contributes a short biography in note form and a catalogue of the extant works (i.e., this printed Livre and a manuscript Ouverture). A family tree does not tally with that given in Marcelle Benoit’s Dictionnaire but looks more accurate.8 Lescat also provides useful background information about printed and engraved editions in seventeenth-century Paris. Pierre Hardouin has a note on the organs that Grigny played at Saint-Denis and Reims, neither of which would have been suitable for these works, as well as comments on organs associated with Grigny’s teacher, Nicolas Lebègue. Jean-Christophe Tosi suggests that the organs in the cathedrals of Auch and Rodez are the most suitable for performance of Grigny’s Livre now.

3.2 The bulk of the prefatory material is supplied by Jean Saint-Arroman, as usual with Fuzeau, and covers the engraving of the Livre, the musical context, and details of notation and performance. There is much interesting information here with regard to chant and the treatment of chant, as well as other instrumental repertories. Mercifully gone are the days when the only comparison was with clavecinistes (as in Dufourcq’s survey).9 In comparing the Livre to aspects of solo viol music, Saint-Arroman relates this repertory to a world of rhythmic flexibility and sensitive essential ornaments inhabited by few organists now. Similarly, by relating Grigny’s florid ornamentation to the ornamentation of airs (particularly Joseph La Barre’s Airs … avec les seconds couplets en diminution [Paris, 1669]), Saint-Arroman reveals a world of French articulation very different from the Italian equivalent, a feature misunderstood by J.S. Bach in his copy, and by many organists trained on Bach. One aspect it would be useful to have more information about is the meaning of time signatures, lucidly explained in Chapter 8 of Saint Lambert’s Principes du clavecin (Paris, 1702), for example, but again ignored by many organists.

3.3 This facsimile very usefully includes the manuscript copies made of the Livre by Bach and his Weimar cousin J.G. Walther. In view of the interest and importance of these it is quite extraordinary that Saint-Arroman ignores all the Bach literature of the past thirty years. He gives the date of Bach’s copy as 1703 (presumably from Dufourcq, 1972) and fails to note the curious borrowing from the third Toccata of Georg Muffat’s Apparatus Musico-Organisticus (Salzburg, 1690) in the final piece of the Livre. Bach literature aside, he need have looked no further than Benoit’s Dictionnaire (1992) for a better date for Bach’s copy, and the Muffat borrowing is noted in Brigitte François-Sappey’s sensitive account of the Livre in Cantagrel’s Guide (1991).10 But one would expect citation at least of Victoria Horn, Christopher Kent, George Stauffer, and David Ponsford, not to mention Peter Williams.11

3.4 Most serious is Saint-Arroman’s not having consulted Kirsten Beisswenger’s VBN,12 which has a very full account and dating of Bach’s copy, its relation to Grigny’s print, and to Walther’s copy. In brief, Bach and Walther seem to have copied from a common source, but independently. The source was not the original edition, so it is misleading to talk of Bach’s “corrections” to Grigny. Their Vorlage seems to have been a manuscript copy of the 1699 print, made in 1700. Bach copied various French items into a manuscript now in Frankfurt (D-F Mus. Hs. 1538), one of the earliest items to survive from his library. He did his copying over an extended period of time: the Grigny was begun around 1709 and continued till around 1712, during which time Bach also copied the ornament table of d’Anglebert’s Pièces and the first three of Dieupart’s Six Suittes (Amsterdam, 1701). The remaining Dieupart suites were copied between 1713 and 1716. Walther made his copy after Bach had left Weimar in 1717. It lacks the first three versets, though a different hand made a start at entering the Kyrie en taille.

3.5 Grigny fans will probably have the facsimile of the same exemplar (F-Pn Rés.Vmb 13), issued in 1980 by Stil éditions (Fontenay sous Bois). The Stil facsimile has the advantage of being closer to the original size (22.5 x 18 cm), which suits the poorer quality of engraving (by Roussel) than d’Anglebert’s Pièces (by Gillet and Bonneuil). Fuzeau’s facsimile (31.5 x 23.5) is nonetheless clearer and more visible on an organ desk.


* David Ledbetter (David.Ledbetter@rncm.ac.uk) is a lecturer at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. Recent publications include Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (Yale University Press) and, with Simon Rowland-Jones, the first five volumes of a new performing edition of Haydn’s string quartets (Peters Edition). He is currently working on a study of the stylistic context of the unaccompanied string music of J.S. Bach.

1 Bruce Gustafson, French Harpsichord Music of the 17th Century (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1979); Bruce Gustafson and David Fuller, A Catalogue of French Harpsichord Music 1699–1780 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990).

2 F-Pn ms. Rés. Vm7 674–675; US-BEm MS 778; the concept of a definitive text is foreign to this repertory. See David Fuller, “‘Sous les doits de Chambonniere’,” Early Music 21 (1993): 191–202.

3 L’Art de toucher le clavecin (Paris, 1717), 51.

4 The first strain is reproduced in my Harpsichord and Lute Music in 17th-Century France (London: Macmillan, 1987), 51–2.

5 See my review of their Bauyn MS facsimile in JSCM 5, no. 1. For a sobering account of the making of facsimiles, see Ronald Broude’s Communication in Notes 61:33 (March, 2005), 892–7.

6 James R. Anthony, French Baroque Music, 3rd ed. (Portland, Or.: Amadeus Press, 1997), 304–6.

7 Jean-Henry d’Anglebert, Pièces de clavecin (Paris: Heugel, 1975; 4th ed., 1988), 209–10.

8 Dictionnaire de la musique en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: Fayard, 1992).

9 Le Livre de l’orgue français, vol. 4: La Musique (Paris: Picard, 1972), 115.

10 Guide de la musique d’orgue, ed. Gilles Cantagrel (Paris: Fayard, 1991).

11 See Victoria Horn, “French Influence in Bach’s Organ Works,” in J.S.Bach as Organist, ed. George Stauffer and Ernest May (London: Batsford, 1986), 256–73 for a general survey. Christopher Kent, “J.S. Bach and the Livre d’orgue of Nicolas de Grigny,” in Aspects of Keyboard Music, ed. Robert Judd (Oxford: Positif Press, 1992), 45–59, has a sensitive account of musically significant differences. George Stauffer, “Boyvin, Grigny, d’Anglebert, and Bach’s Assimilation of French Classical Organ Music,” Early Music 21 (1993): 83–96, makes the very good point that Bach at this stage was not looking for things to imitate, but for nuance. See also David Ponsford, “J.S. Bach and the Nature of French Influence,” The Organ Yearbook 29 (2000): 59–74.

12 Johann Sebastian Bachs Notenbibliothek (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1992).

Copyright © Society for Seventeenth-Century Music. All Rights Reserved.

ISSN: 1089-747X

Items appearing in JSCM may be saved and stored in electronic or paper form, and may be shared among individuals for purposes of scholarly research or discussion, but may not be republished in any form, electronic or print, without prior, written permission from the Editor-in-Chief of JSCM.

Any authorized redistribution of an item published in JSCM must include the following information in a form appropriate to the medium in which it is to appear:

This item appeared in the Journal of Seventeenth Century Music (http://www.sscm-jscm.org/) [volume, no. (year)], and it is republished here with permission.

Libraries may archive issues of JSCM in electronic or paper form for public access so long as each issue is stored in its entirety, and no access fee is charged. Exceptions to these requirements must be approved in writing by the Editor-in-Chief of JSCM.

Website Design and Development by Crooked River Design.