Reviewed by Jonathan Glixon*
2. The Series
4. The Music
(note 1) I praised the book, but lamented that "so much of the music that is obviously well known to Roche . . . is still unavailable to the general public." This new series, the latest in Garland Press's invaluable efforts to expand the repertory of music available to scholars and performers, marks an important step in remedying the situation. Up until now, even specialists in seventeenth-century music knew few sacred works of the period that had not been composed by Monteverdi (or, perhaps, Viadana). Even such important composers as Alessandro Grandi were known by at most one or two works. We were aware from the work of Roche and others of the treasure troves of sacred music lying untranscribed in libraries, but had to rely on their descriptions or on a few musical examples.
2.2 The logical organizational principles are continued at lower levels. The mass volumes are arranged chronologically by date of publication, each containing three or four works. The vespers and compline volumes, with their greater numbers of shorter works, use a different method: pieces with the same number of "principal voices" (regardless of the presence or number of accompanying instrumental parts) are grouped together. Volumes 11 and 12, the first two to appear, include works with, respectively, one and two voice parts. The choice for arrangement within these volumes is also a felicitous one; echoing the original prints, they open with settings of the Domine ad adiuvandum, and continue with Magnificat and psalm settings, concluding with hymns and antiphons.
2.3 Each volume in this series includes,
in addition to general introductions to the series and explanations of
the editorial methods, commentaries on each work by the editor of the
volume. Considered are the sources of the piece, the biography of the
composer, and the music itself. Although the commentaries in all the volumes
reviewed here are useful, they vary considerably in depth and interest.
Those in the mass volumes, by Anne Schnoebelen, are, at times, somewhat
perfunctory in their musical discussions; they include a few interesting
observations, but they are limited at times to mere blow-by-blow descriptions.
Jeffrey Kurtzman's, for the vespers and compline volumes, are considerably
more insightful and wide-ranging, going beyond description to analysis
of style, and with some effort to place the individual works in broader
3.2 There are, unfortunately, a fair number of problems, usually minor, in the editions, especially in the mass volumes. Most of these are errors in pitch of a single note, easily corrected in study or performance, but nonetheless annoying. It is certainly possible that many or even all of these errors appear in the original source, but they should certainly have been corrected. Most troubling is one passage in the Tarquinio Merula Messa concertata à 3 sopra l'Aria del Gran Duca in Volume 4. In the critical notes for the end of the Gloria (p. xxiii), Schnoebelen indicates that she has added a missing minim rest in the soprano at measure 36. Even a quick look at the score, however, reveals that no such addition was needed: from that point to the final cadence in m. 39, the soprano is clearly displaced by a minim, resulting in parallel fifths with the bass, nasty dissonances with the tenor, and an impossible cadence.
3.3 The editorial policy of the series calls
for the text underlay to follow the original sources except in case of
errors; but the results, whether because of problems in the print or the
work of the editor, are occasionally less than optimal. The most serious
difficulties, of two types, appear in the Kyrie of Bentivoglio Levà's Missa ariosa in Volume 1. First is the inconsistency in the syllabification
of "eleison," which seems to alternate, sometimes indiscriminately, between
three and four syllables, sometimes resulting in the placing of the "i,"
which should either be short or merely the second half of a diphthong,
on a long note. Sometimes two voices in a cadential figure (e.g. m. 28)
use conflicting and simultaneous syllabification. The other problem occurs
in the Christe. At the opening of the movement a pattern is established
with one voice (beginning with the soprano) singing the phrase "Christe
eleison" and then all four joining, homophonically, in a repeat of the
words. In the succeeding entries, however, the homophonic declamation
is not preserved in the edition. The second tenor, in its solo, is still
singing the last two syllables of "eleison" when the others begin "Christe."
Following that, the first tenor begins its "Christe" one note before the
others, and the bass begins one note later. Simple editorial changes would
have resulted in greater consistency and better musical sense.
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*Jonathan Glixon (email@example.com) is Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky, where he has taught since 1983. The chief focus of his research has been archival studies of sacred music in Venice, both at confraternities and, most recently, at convents.
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A few examples will suffice to indicate the situation. Vol. 1, Grandi, Messa a quattro voci, Gloria, m.45, alto should have c-a-c, not c-b-c, which breaks a string of thirds with the soprano, introducing a minor second. Vol. 1, Pietro Lappi, Missa Octavi toni à 6, Gloria, m.49, the soprano A-G should be quarter notes, not eighth notes. Vol. 1, Bentivoglio Levà, Missa ariosa à 3 e à 4 se piace, in concerto, Gloria, m.76, the third pitch in tenor secondo should be C, not B (this is a full cadence on C).
Other problem spots include the following (indicated by volume, page, measure, and part):
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