Francesco Foggia: Masses

Edited by Stephen R. Miller
A-R Editions, Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, B193
xxiv + 2 facsmilies + 354pp, $245.00
ISBN 978-0-89579-844-2

Other than Stephen R. Miller, I must be among the only people on the planet actively publishing Foggia’s music; in fact, I had already started work on an edition of one of the pieces in the present volume (his parody mass on Palestrina’s Tu es Petrus  for nine voices). I had decided to explore mid-17th-century Italian music outside Venice, since it seemed to me odd that there were huge gaps in the available music, as if there were no composers worthy of consideration between Monteverdi and Vivaldi.

Foggia held many important positions in Rome and his considerable published legacy reflects that. Miller has chosen six representative masses: the Missa Andianne à premer latte, e coglier fiori  (ATB, continuo – based on the madrigal of that name by Pomponio Nenna), the Missa Corrente  (SATB, continuo), the Missa La piva  (SSATB, continuo), a Missa sine nomine (1663, SSATB, continuo), the Missa Exultate Deo  (SSATB, continuo)and the aforementioned Missa Tu es Petrus  (SSATB, SATB, continuo). The four-voice Missa Corrente  was reprinted as a Missa brevis and it omits the Benedictus.

Foggia was a skilled contrapuntalist with a strong sense of the overall shapes of his works; juxtaposing close imitation with homophonic (often triple time) passages holds the listener’s attention. Miller has done a fine job of editing these six masses, though I question his decision to treat alla breve  cut C as two-minim bars in some pieces and four-minim bars in others, while retaining a uniform three-semibreve bar for triplas, and even more so his decision not to transpose the Missa Tu es Petrus  down from its original printed chiavette  pitch (the lowest note currently is the C below middle C…)

I hope A-R Editions will release each of the masses separately so that small groups and choirs can perform this music and enjoy it – the volume is simply too expensive and too unwieldy for use in church or concert hall.

Brian Clark