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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 6 (2000) No. 2

JEAN-HENRY D’ANGLEBERT. Pièces de Clavecin: Édition de 1689; Manuscrit Rés 89ter (facsimile edition). Introductions by Philippe Lescat and Jean Saint-Arroman. La Musique fran�aise classique de 1650 à 1800, 5688. Courlay: Fuzeau, 1999. 2 volumes. [ISMN M-2306-5688-7. FF 432.23 ($75).]

Reviewed by Kenneth Gilbert*

1. The Fuzeau Series

2. Jean-Henry d’Anglebert (1629–1691)

3. The Facsimiles

4. Evaluation


1. The Fuzeau Series

1.1 This series of performers’ facsimiles has been mentioned previously in this Journal, in a review by David J. Buch which described the publisher’s aims in some detail.1 At latest count the series has reached well over 100 items, divided between the two subsets “La Musique fran�aise classique de 1650 à 1800” and “Collection Dominantes” (covering all that is not French—including all the published keyboard works of J.S.Bach). Recently, a third series has been added, “Méthodes & Traités,” devoted to assembling into separate volumes all pre-1800 theoretical documentation—prefaces and other didactic material—relating to individual instruments.2

1.2 The present publication, one of the most ambitious of the series, maintains the overall high standard of the collection, with good paper, strong binding, and exceptionally clear page images. It also maintains some of the more questionable aspects of the Fuzeau series, namely, an overly restorative approach to the facsimile question (shared however with other publishers,3) and a lavishly, even extravagantly, spaced layout of the introductory material, giving rise to the thought that, with a more conventional text spread, a significant number of pages might have been eliminated, leading to lower prices. On this point, however, one can hardly complain, as the series has been noted for its comparatively reasonable pricing from the start. .

2. Jean-Henry d’Anglebert (1629–1691)

2.1 D’Anglebert, p�re et fils, between them occupied the high charge of Ordinaire de la Musique de la Chambre du roy pour le clavessin for over seventy years (1662 to 1735), effectively impeding the careers of other clavecinistes, notably that of Fran�ois Couperin who had to settle for a lesser distinction.4 Jean-Henry’s Pieces de Clavessin appeared, in a splendid anonymous engraving, in 1689, when the composer was sixty years old. The work thus represents the apogee of seventeenth century French harpsichord writing, quickly becoming known well beyond Parisian circles. A Roger edition, newly engraved and probably unauthorized, appeared in Amsterdam in 1703. The famous table of ornaments (“Marques des Agréments et leur signification”) is the most elaborate of any French Livre; there exists a copy in the hand of J.S. Bach (D-F: Mus. Hs. 1538), complete with French terms, which suggests that Bach knew the Frenchman’s music. Along with four complete suites of dances, the work contains, imbedded in the suites according to tonality, a large number of transcriptions from the operas of Lully, who is properly eulogized in the preface. (Lully had been godfather to d'Anglebert's son Jean-Baptiste Henry; the family lived in the Rue Sainte-Anne, adjacent to the splendid town house that Lully had built for himself.)

2.2 Earlier versions of many pieces in the 1689 print exist in an important manuscript (F-Pn Rés 89ter) dating back to probably the late 1670s. It contains seventy-six pieces, all but ten of which are thought to be in the hand of d’Anglebert (the other ten are mainly sketches and scribblings in later hands). Thirteen of the pieces are by d’Anglebert himself, of which four in C major are not found in the 1689 print and were perhaps intended for the Second Livre, promised in the 1689 preface but not realized. Of the remaining pieces, six are by Chambonnni�res, one each by Louis Couperin, Richard and Marin Marais, and the rest a series of transcriptions of lute works from the 1640s and 50s, mainly by Gaultier le Vieux. Together they are fascinating material for a comparison with the printed pieces, making it possible to trace the development of d’Anglebert’s complex ornamentational practice and transcription technique.

3. The Facsimiles

3.1 The present publication consists of two volumes in a slip cover: the first issue of the 1689 Pi�ces de Clavecin (of which Broude Brothers published in 1965 a fine facsimile based on the second issue [see below], still in the catalogue), and a first publication of Rés 89ter. There are at least twenty known surviving exemplars of the 1689 book, several of which are not currently listed in RISM. Most of them include either the lost Mignard portrait of d’Anglebert in the engraving by Vermeulen, or the recently noted Mignard music allegory with instruments, engraved by the same Vermeulen.5 An unlisted exemplar in Belluno (I-BEc), includes both. The exemplar chosen for this facsimile (NL-DHgm: 27 B 15), unfortunately, includes neither. The prefatory material, in French with complete English and German translations (except for the opening timeline), occupies 56 pages and is printed entirely in the first volume.

3.2 A biographical note by Philippe Lescat, in date-byte form, outlines what little is known about d’Anglebert’s life, and takes into account recent research by �rik Kocevar regarding the date of birth (1629) as well as the early form of the family name.6 A catalogue of works and a bibliography (Beverly Scheibert’s 1986 study is listed; Douglas Maple’s 1987 doctoral dissertation on Rés 89ter is not) lead to an examination of the sources by Jean Saint-Arroman, who is also general editor of the Fuzeau collection. This section of the preface deals with differences between the two issues of 1689, a succinct description of Rés 89ter and the handwriting question, and a brief comparison of the famous unmeasured preludes that appear in both the earlier manuscript (entirely in whole notes) and the printed source (with helpful occasional eighth and sixteenth notes, in the manner of Leb�gue). There is an interesting attempt to re-notate the C major prelude, found only in the manuscript, as it might have appeared in the print, with a few interspersed black notes giving some measure of comfort to the player.

4. Evaluation

4.1 Technically, this publication, called a “restoration” by the editors, appears to be reliable; the invisible hand responsible for cleaning up the films, removing unwanted stamps, shelf marks and the like seems here to have treaded lightly. With so many introductory pages, however, it is surprising to find that there is neither table of contents nor index to the 1689 book, especially since the Lully pieces scattered throughout the Suites are difficult to locate. In recent years Fuzeau seems to have adopted for its facsimiles two standard formats of uniform size, one vertical and one oblong, thus abandoning any attempt to reproduce the original size. In the case before us this results in a rather overblown look to the page (cf. the Broude facsimile which adheres to the smaller original size of the plates); at the same time, however, the high contrast printing and utter cleanliness of the page make for easy reading.

4.2 The editors draw attention to the existence of two printings, both bearing the date 1689, identical in all respects except for a different address on the title page, and the words “Fin du Ier Livre Reveu [sic] et corrigé.” on the final page of the second one. Of the accuracy of the original engraving, they have this to say: “Engraving errors are rare. They are not corrected in the second impression, even when the mistake is obvious. Example, page 64, system 3, bar 6, a semiquaver instead of a quaver ” (p. 11). As a player, I would suggest that this is no mistake at all: the left hand bass sixteenth note in the second beat is entirely plausible and simply follows the pattern set by the tenor sixteenth note in the first beat, as well as liberating the hand for the next tenor note, a ninth above. Calling attention to this one note seems odd as an only example, when there are over 70 obvious mistakes in the print.7

4.3 In discussing Rés 89ter, the editors rightly make a clear distinction between the obvious four handwritings, correctly attributing all the d’Anglebert pieces, including the lute transcriptions, to the same “flexible, dexterous handwriting, visibly that of a professional musician very accustomed to writing music. This could be the handwriting of Jean-Henry d’Anglebert. Comparison of the signatures by Gustafson points to the same conclusion.”8 They appear reluctant to go all the way, however, settling for “probable attribution” as being the suitable term. A table of contents lists the pieces (regrettably unnumbered) together with their “correspondences” in the printed works of d’Anglebert and Lully; the Ouverture de La Mascarade is listed as lost, as in LWV 24, but the title refers in fact to Le carnaval ou Mascarade de Versailles, LWV 36, and d’Anglebert’s transcription also appears on page 57 of the 1689 print.9 Whatever the case, it is especially welcome to have a reliable facsimile (complete with its blank pages) of this important seventeenth-century French manuscript finally available.

4.4 The most serious problem with this edition, by far, is the incomprehensible order in which the 1689 facsimile pages have been printed. All page numbers of the original edition were engraved (as the editors themselves point out) in the upper right-hand corner of each plate, instead of using the more usual mirror arrangement. These numbers, and their placement, are faithfully reproduced here. The problem, the enormity of which fairly leaps out at the player, occurs at the first opening of music. On the left is a blank page; on the right is page 1, with page 2 on the verso. And so it goes throughout the book: even numbers on the left, odd ones on the right—in accordance, perhaps, with good book publishing practice, but here in the face of plain common sense. No one at Fuzeau seems to have noticed that the overwhelming majority of the pieces are intended to be on two facing pages, not recto/verso. All copies of the 1689 book that this reviewer has seen (as well as, needless to say, the Broude facsimile) begin with page 1 on the left, so that there are practically no page turns throughout the book, except for pieces of three pages or more. (Here, every two-page piece has a turn, and the four-page ones—the Chaconne from Pha�ton, the great D Minor Prelude, et al.—now have two.) Since this state of affairs can hardly have been the intention of the editors, and certainly not of the composer, one feels that the book should have been sent back to the printers for another run. As it is, this first volume is next to useless for those very players to whom the series makes its pitch, the performer who wants to play from the original on the grounds that closer contact with the composer and his environment is thus achieved.

4.5 This otherwise fine 1689 facsimile should be withdrawn from circulation and reprinted correctly, along with an index. The publisher might well heed Fran�çois Couperin’s famous announcement that “Those who have purchased [the first printing of L’Art de toucher le Clavecin] may return it to me, ...and I shall have another copy given to them, gratis,” as a good-will gesture.10


*Kenneth Gilbert (kengil@compuserve.com) is Professor at the Universitöt Mozarteum in Salzburg and Senior Adjunct Professor at McGill University in Montreal. He is currently publishing keyboard study scores of the three books for solo lute and chitarrone by Kapsperger. Return to beginning


1. David J. Buch, review of G.-G. Nivers, Motets, and R. Ballard, Premier Livre, JSCM 3 (1997) <http://www.sscm-jscm.org/v3/no1/buch.html>, par.1.1–1.2. Return to text

2. A handsome catalogue is available from their website at http://www.ed-fuzeau.fr. Return to text

3. See David Ledbetter’s review of three Minkoff publications, JSCM 5 (1999) <http://www.sscm-jscm.org/v5/no1/ledbetter.html>, par. 3.6. Return to text

4. Jean-Baptiste Henry d’Anglebert (1661–1735), of whom there survives not a single note of music, relinquished the survivance of the charge to Fran�ois Couperin, who in turn transmitted it to his daughter Marguerite Antoinette in 1730. The charge was abolished in 1736, after Jean-Baptiste Henry’s death. See Olivier Baumont, Couperin le musicien des rois (Paris: Découvertes Gallimard, 1998), 73, 87. Return to text

5. Florence Gétreau, Denis Herlin, “Portraits de clavecins et de clavecinistes fran�çais (I),” Musique–Images–Instruments 2 (Paris: Klincksiek, 1997), 98. Return to text

6. Érik Kocevar, “Jean-Henry d’Anglebert ou Jean Henry, dit d’Anglebert... Mise au point sur le véritable nom des d’Anglebert à la lumi�re de documents d’archives inédits,” Ostinato rigore 8/9 (1997): 67–86. Return to text

7. Denis Herlin (private communication) has compiled a work-in-progress list of small corrections that were effectively carried out in the second printing, justifying the annotation “Reveu et corrigé” on its final page. Return to text

8. The sole reference to Gustafson in the bibliography is to “Gustafson, Bruce, French Harpsichord music of the 17th Century, Ann Arbor, University Microfilm [sic], 1979.” The only mention there of signatures related to Rés 89ter is: “Kenneth Gilbert was not the first to associate 33-Rés-89ter with d’Anglebert, as he pointed out in the preface to his edition of the d’Anglebert works [Paris: Heugel, 1974, 4/1988], but he was the first to compare the hand of the titles to the many known examples of d’Anglebert’s signature.... There is little doubt that the name as it appears in 33-Rés-89ter is the same as the signature of Jean-Henry d’Anglebert” (vol. 1, p. 94). Return to text

9. I am grateful to Denis Herlin for drawing my attention to this misattribution. Return to text

10. Preface to Second Livre de piéces de Clavecin (Paris, 1717). Return to text

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