Categories
Recording

Porfiri: Cantate da camera a voce sola, Opera Prima, Bologna 1692

Pamela Lucciarini soprano, Alessandro Carmignani alto, Laboratorio Armonico
77:06
Tactus TC651601

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hese recordings of four secular cantatas for solo voice marks the CD debut of a practically unknown 17th-century Italian composer born in Mondolfo and active in and around the Veneto, Pietro Porfiri. The music is charming, if generally conventional, with one or two original instrumental touches, including an early extended use of the cello. As we spend a lot of time in their company the quality of the solo voices is an essential aspect in this type of repertoire, and Pamela Lucciarini has a personable and expressive voice, which invites us in and provides compelling accounts of this unknown repertoire. Alessandro Carmignano’s alto voice is perhaps a little less convincing, showing weaknesses in the lower range and with an occasional tendency to dip below notes. On the other had he has a consistently glowing tone, which adds a pleasant gloss to the texture.

James Ross

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Recording

Handel: Joshua

Kenneth Tarver Joshua, Tobias Berndt Caleb, Renata Pokupić Othniel, Anna Dennis Achsah, Joachim Duske Angel, NDR Chor, FestspielOrchester Göttingen, Laurence Cummings
115′ (2 CDs)
Accent ACC 26403

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’m not sure if the Handel operas performed at the Göttingen International Handel Festival (by the FestspielOrchester Göttingen under Lawrence Cummings) are recorded live as a matter of course each year, but I seem to have heard several such offerings and they are, without exception, a true joy from start to finish. I can’t recall if the other discs follow the same format, but I felt that the inclusion of snippets of applause in this recording of Joshua only added to the feeling of actually being at the opera. With the exception of Anna Dennis, I was unfamiliar with the soloists, and was pleasantly surprised by the uniform quality but varied timbre of their voices. This said, I did find Renata Pokupić‘s rather heavy vibrato (I know, so “early music” but bear with me) a little static on her first recitative and aria. As the opera progressed, however, this became less of a problem.

First performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, on March 9th, 1748, Joshua was one of several oratorios composed by Handel to celebrate the victory of the Hanoverian dynasty over the Jacobites. As such, it focuses on the militaristic might of the mighty leader, Joshua, but while it undoubtedly was a commentary on the political situation of its time, the libretto (possibly by Thomas Morell) sticks to the biblical account but adds in a love story. The slightly whimsical style of Dr Wolfgang Sandberger’s booklet notes belie excellent scholarship and add to the sense of a well-informed production.

The oratorio contains many lovely and well-known moments, including the rousing ‘See, the conqu’ring hero comes!’. As always, Cummings’s pacing of the music is so incredibly well-judged that both narrative and music flow unimpeded. A real joy both in terms of content and interpretation.

Violet Greene

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Book

Mauro Calcagno: Perspectives on Luca Marenzio’s Secular Music

Brepols, 2014.
527pp, €80.00.
ISBN 9 78 2 503 55332 0

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he contents do not completely cover Marenzio’s secular music: the writers tend to pick on specific examples or types. There is a considerable quantity of the music itself discussed in extensive detail.

Music and Poetry.

Franco Piperno Petrarch, Petrarchism, and the Italian Madrigal (pp. 15-30) discusses the revival of Petrarchan verse for madrigals between 1542 & 1570.

James Haar The Madrigali a quattro, cinque et sei voci of 1588 (pp. 31-50) is the only such set by Marenzio, perhaps writing in a style that was aiming at different noble masters; English composers later used the same pattern.

Seth J. Coluzzi Tirsi mio, caro Tirsi: Il pastor fido and the Roman Madrigal (pp. 51-73) makes an attempt to distinguish quasi-soloistic sections, but I’m not convinced. The latest idea isn’t always better than previous ones until the next idea appears. The compromise is noted by Alfred Einstein (p. 70, note 23): “The whole book is full of hidden drama, but the presentation of the actual scene or monologue is always madrigalesque, even if there is a real temptation to dramatize”.

James Chater ends the group with Family matters: Music in the Life and Poetry of Giovambattista Strozzi the Elder (pp. 75-140). Both Strozzi were blind; the Elder was mostly a poet, with over a thousand poems – the Junior is less significant in the discussion of the music, especially the long list of music that is known of but not visible or audible.

Musical Styles and Techniques.

Ruth I. DeFord C and Ȼ in the Madrigals of Marenzio (pp. 143-164) has confusing examples, especially the up and down arrows which interfere with the clashing stresses in the music. The use of C (4 crotchets) and Ȼ (4 minims) are not necessarily firm rules – see, for example, ex. 6/a, b & d (p. 161-2) in C but with 4 minims. 6 is more irregular, presented by the editor with 4 crotchets | 8 crotchets | 1 crotchet |8 crotchets. I’m not convinced that singing to the beat is as significant as the theorists assume anyway: singers need to be aware of the tactus but also of the stress of the poem.

John W. Hill turns to Two Reflections of Sixteenth-Century Italian Solo Singing in Luca Marenzio’s Villanelle (1584-97) (p. 165-202). This is a useful read for those who wish to sing/play the published music or adapt playing with the vocal lines (not necessarily all of them) or strumming a guitar or lute. Performers who enjoy more flexible music should read this chapter.

Music and Patronage: A Debate

Claudio Annibaldi Social Markers in the Music Market… (p. 205-234) is followed by comments by Mario Bagioli, Arnaldo Morelli, Stefano Lorenzetti & Jonathan Glixon, concluded by Annibaldi’s A Reply in an Apologetic Vein (p. 251-261). I found myself more interested by the other writers. and wondered if the four names given above may have taken advantage of later research, and consequently Annibaldi by definition would have also followed even later. However, none of the footnotes by all the authors in this section were later than 2006 (I may have missed a 2007 item that I didn’t see on the check.) This section strikes me as the least successful, but it would have been better without Annibaldi! One misprint: Gardano and Scotto in the 1670s (p. 255, last para.) I’m a little surprised by mention of Condoleezza Rice (p. 259) – I don’t remember a pronounciation with a double zz or tz?

Contexts of Production, Circulation, and Consumption

Giuseppe Gerbino Marenzio and the Shepherds of the Tiber Valley (pp. 265-281) is well worth reading for the short creation of a myth by the Tiber, parodying Tirsi and Clori and the pastor Ergasto. The text was published in 1597 as Prose Tibertine del Pastor Ergasto by Antonio Piccioli Cenedese.

Paoli Cecchi “Delicious air and sweet inventions”: The Circulation and Consumption of Marenzio’s Secular Music in England (c.1588-1640) is a massive exposition (pp. 283-369). While reading it, I regretted that Tessa Murray was too late to incorporate her Thomas Morley, Elizabethan Publisher – see review in EMR 162 p. 4. She creeps into p. 303 note 66 on the strength of a 2012 joint quote from Philip Brett and Tessa. This is a massive survey, not just of available music, but how much was known of its use. The printing of violas accompanying vocal solos is a mistake for viols (p. 318), but on p. 322 there is a treble viale and the viola da gamba (not within quotes) lower down the first para­graph. There is a vast amount of information, not just on existing or hypothetical editions but on how they was used.

I had expected to read the book during a cruise on a boat running from Budapest to Regensburg – but without much likeli­hood of following the plan because of the failure to get under bridges and made worse for me by the failure of my glasses. Reading became very difficult and the final day involved four hours by bus and five hours waiting for the flight, so I couldn’t get through the final section and this is the first chance I’ve been able to catch up at least some back work on our music sales activity. The final group of Print Cultures and Editions covers Jane A. Bernstein, Christine Jeanneret, Laurent Pugin and Etienne Darbellay. The end is a useful short summary of various aspects, preceded by “changing criteria and editorial techniques from one volume to the next, as is the case of the CMM series, which should should be strenuously avoided.” It is, however, impossible for such long-running of some of the series to change in mid course, but new editions should certainly use the more current form – unnecessary cutting note values and elaborate and confusing beaming, for instance. I’ve avoided CMM12 (Giovanni Gabrieli), using editions that are more accessible, though a certain amount of under­standing is needed – I’ve been involved in Cambridge with several 1615 motets for at least three distinguished organisations for the 500th year of his publication (though he died in 1612 and his amanuensis was hardly reliable!)

The final two pages (461-2) draw attention to the differences between manners and notation. Not all will agree, and performers who are not involved in the specialists’s expertise may well be distracted from perfor­mances. There are too many attempts at complete editions: it’s better to publish other composers for whom there is less access. But no complaints about this volume. It concludes with a 50-page list of Marenzio’s works and 13 pages of indexes. The cover is elegant, but 1.780 kg is rather an effort to hold. It has 527 pp, the height of an A4 sheet, and only fractionally less wide.

Clifford Bartlett

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Recording

Telemann: Music for Wind Band

“The Saxon Alternative”
Syrinx
62:04
Resonus RES10154
TWV44:2, 7, & 14; TWV55:c3, B3

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his fabulous recording is devoted to one of the less well-known repositories of baroque music. As well as maintaining “Kapelle” (ensembles made up of singers and instrumentalists who were as capable of performing sacred as secular music), many German courts – in imitation of Louis XIV – maintained an “hautboistenband”, a separate group of musicians who served a different purpose. Their precise function remains cloudy (there are records, for example, of court musicians being paid to teach the “hautboisten” to play the violin), but Belinda Paul’s informative booklet notes are right to suggest that the classical “Harmonie” did not simply appear out of thin air – the involvement of instruments other than double reeds (and the ability of “hautboisten” to play them) was a long tradition. The CD’s title derives from the fact that Saxon bands regularly featured a pair of horns; thus the recording features two overtures for five-part winds, two for the saxon variant (pairs of oboes, horns and bassoons) and a concerto for pairs of oboe d’amore, horns and bassoons (all with harpsichord continuo).

It will surprise no-one that Telemann manages to delight the ear with what might seem like limited resources. The blend of double reeds and horns (especially oboes d’amore and horns!) is gorgeous, especially when recorded in such a generous but not over-resonant acoustic. The individual movements of the suites take on a character of their own, with the composer’s mischievous sense of humour never far from the surface (just listen to La Grimace and I defy you not to smile…) It’s all such fun that I can even forgive Dan Tidhar for using the lute stop on track 16. I hope we will hear more of this repertoire from Syrinx (or even some of the cantatas mentioned in the booklet – I have edited several…)

Brian Clark

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Sheet music

Richard Dering: Motets and Anthems

transcribed and edited by Jonathan P. Wainwright.
(Music Britannica, 98).
Stainer & Bell, 2015.
xxxviii + 135pp, £88.00.

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]ering first appears in modern editions in Consort Songs (MB 22, 1667) with City Cries and Country Cries. His Secular Vocal Music (MB 25, 1969), edited by Peter Platt, contains 20 Canzonette a3 and 24 a4, two volumes published by Phalèse in 1620. The Italian MS pieces from UK MS sources are mostly in three parts. It ends with a trio and a sextet in English. My impression is that these are under-sung. Wainwright’s first volume of Dering (MB 87, 2008) contains chiefly music that survived long after Dering’s death: Playford’s Cantica Sacra 1662 and The Second Sett 1674. The 1662 set has 14 sacred songs for two voices and and ten for three (all with continuo); the 1674 set has 8 duets for treble or tenor, bass & Bc. There are a dozen more from MS sources and 12 incomplete works. Ardens est cor meum appears differently as the first and the last item in the volume. There is just one volume from Early English Church Music (15, 1974), Cantica Sacra a6, 1618. Platt was editor, but overdid the transposition with keys of G, D and A – the notational practice of sharp signatures didn’t exist in Dering’s period.

The main contents of MB 98 are Cantiones Sacrae quinque vocum cum basso continuo ad organum. That contains 18 Latin pieces, many with familiar texts, and is followed by two English translations, Lord thou art worthy (19) and Therefore with Angels (20), both based on the O nomen Jesu, the second part of no. 1. The volume ends with three anthems: Almighty God which through thy only-begotten Son (21), And the King was moved (22) and Unto thee O Lord (23, perhaps by Wilkinson).

Jonathan Wainwright’s editorial remarks and practice are sensible. I’ve known him since he called on me to discuss what his doctorate should be, and I’ve been impressed by him for something like 30 years. The addition of slashed slurs to indicate where a note has two or more letters is hardly necessary since the words are clearly spaced. I’m not entirely convinced that repeated accidentals in a bar can be omitted: I prefer the system of repeating accidentals unless consecutive – it’s clearer. It also seems unnecessary to leave the original mensuration sign – 4/2 looks odd!

The pitches present a problem – and it is easier to solve performance if the compass of each part is shown. The current assumption of standard pitch is about three quarters of a tone higher, though it can be sung either a semitone or a tone above. High-pitch clefs (nos 5 & 10-15) in theory should be a fifth or thereabouts lower. But care needs to be taken when a continuo organ is necessary: omitting it is regrettable, partly for the backing, but also for the occasional isolated organ chords.

The music itself is impressive, though features are perhaps a little similar. I think on the whole that I’d prefer to hear anthologies of Dering rather than complete Dering record­ings. MB scores are rather large to read and expensive to buy: the A4 compromise would need minimal change of the adjustment apart from narrower edges – or does Stainer and Bell reprint individual pieces thus?

Clifford Bartlett

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Categories
Sheet music

Handel: Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks HWV 348-351

set for the Harpsichord or Organ by Francesco Geminiani (1743) & Anonymous (ca. 1749)…”
Arranged and edited by Siegbert Rampe.
Bärenreiter (BA 9254), 2015, £29.00.
xiv + 50pp + 3 parts.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]was puzzled when I saw adverts of this, but it turns out to be interesting. For a start, there is considerable information on the two works in the introduction. The Water Music for keyboard was issued in 1725, 1733/34 and 1743, the last version being arranged by Geminiani. (The comment in the introduction in the second column of the second paragraph of page x is confusing, since three dates are described as “the latter”! The German text is correct.) As the introduction says, Geminiani was not primarily a keyboard composer, but it works quite well. Some cadences look bare, but perhaps that is left to the player to fill in. The Fireworks keyboard version is not very sophisticated, so the editor has produced a solo keyboard version as well as another for treble and continuo; three parts are provided – flute/violin/oboe & Bc, and realised continuo with right-hand fill-in in the middle stave. Odd bits of facsimile fill in gaps, but could be more precisely related to the main score. Fun to play, but with so many CDs, playing on keyboard is rather old fashioned – but perhaps the custom will change.

Clifford Bartlett

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Sheet music

Edition Walhall – April 2015

Catena Sammlung (Mus. ms. Landsberg 122-Berlin).
Inta­vo­latura mit Werken von Frescobaldi, Tarditi u. a. für Orgel (oder Cembalo).
(Frutti Musicali 19) Band I (EW 919), 2013.
[vi] + 50pp. €21.80

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This is edited by Jolando Scarpa. There are 30 pieces in Vol. I. Only two each are ascribed to Frescobaldi and Tarditi, the rest are anonymous. It should be interesting getting a class of students to allocate the merits of the pieces by skill as well as by style.


Schmelzer: Sonata Lanterly fur 2 Violinen, Viola da Gamba und Basso Continuo
(Harmonia Coelestis vii.) (EW 763), 2013.
iv + 14pp + 5 parts. €16.50

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The title probably implies a vagabond’s music. The opening section in C starts with that tune. There’s a change to 3/2 at bar 69 which is simpler – but I’m not sure that the editor can call it even a “a sort of galliard”. The 12/8 Allegro starts at bar 112 definitely as a gigue, ending at bar 141 with C tempo again as coda. Adding editorial figures to the bass is, I would have thought, more useful than printing a blank treble stave – the whole point of learning to play continuo is to show the chords, not the notes. It seems odd not to treat the beaming in a more logical way. For instance, in bar 6 vln II has two groups of eight semiquavers, whereas the same phrase in the gamba part is in groups of four semiquavers. It was sensible to include a viola part in C3 clef.


Schmelzer: Ciaccona fur Violine und Basso continuo
(Harmonia Coelestis xi) (EW 648), 2014.
7pp + vln & unbound score for Bc. €10.00

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The ground is (:a|Ae|F.|D.|E:||:e|Ef|D.|E.|A:). [Minims are capitals, crotchets are lower-case.] Rather than bar numbers, it is more useful to number the ground for the violinist, eg 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b etc. The bass & Bc only need to know how many times the bass is played. Simple pieces like this don’t really need the occasional missing barline (eg bars 91 & 96) to be indicated by dotted lines nor do I understand why there is a single eight-note semiquaver group in bar 83.


Georg Muffat: Sonata Violino Solo (Prag 1677) Violine und Basso continuo
(Harmonia Coelestis, x) (EW 874).
vi + 16 + 3 parts. 2014. €14.80

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I first heard this played by John Holloway on Radio 3 and we decided that it needed publication. It’s an amazing piece lasting 198 bars, the first 37 of which are Adagio and the rest Allegros and Adagios which don’t offer gaps for page-turns. My edition (£6.00) is more straight forward and cheaper for those who don’t need a score with realised keyboard.


Georg Muffat: Vier Partiten fur Cembalo (B-Bsa SA 4581)
(Harmonia Coelestis IX) (EW 769).
xi + 28pp. €17.50

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The four Partitas (C, F, E, e) are from the Berlin Sing-Akademie. Three (C, E and e) are new discoveries, while the set in F amplifies the previously known sections. The MS was copied 30 years or more after the elder Muffat had died. These are interesting to play, but it’s not clear whether straight lines are to warn the reader that two notes are in a single part even if not notated with stems in the same direction, though sometimes they might be of some musical significance. The editor seems to be a bit pedantic, but the selection is worth playing.


Clérambault: Simphonia Va : Chaconne fur Violine und Basso Continuo.
(Frutti Musicali 21)
v + 6pp + 2 parts. €11.50

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This does not have the repetitive bass of Schmelzer’s Ciaccona, whose bass has no variety apart from what the players can inspire. This sensibly avoids a blank right-hand stave, though reading it through in my head, far too much seemed to follow the violin – perhaps I’m out of touch! Two pages of MS are shown, displaying nothing odd as in the earlier pieces considered here.


Johann Ulich: Sechs Sonaten fur Blockflöte und Cembalo.
Band I (Collegium Musicum). (EW 921)
34 pp: two scores with facsimiles. €19.80

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I don’t know the composer at all, so it’s worth giving his dates (1677-1742). His father was organist at Wittenberg, which is presumably where he acquired his skill. He was organist at Zerbst from 1708, active in St Bartholomew’s church and as court musician. The VI Sonaten à Flauto con Cembalo was published in 1716 in two separate parts. The treble part is named Flauto, but that almost certainly implies recorder, whose notation is for the G on the bottom line going up two octaves. This has the first three of the six sonatas. There are two copies in score, one of which also has the recorder part in facsimile and the other the bass, both with the original prelims and the three first sonatas. The only complete copy is in the Russian State Library in Moscow, which justifies making the facsimile available. There’s a recording of 2013. Well worth buying.

Clifford Bartlett

Categories
Recording

Handel in the Wind – The Messiah and Other Masterworks

Red Priest
71:59
Red Priest Records RP012

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ed Priest albums are always stylish, entertaining and controversial, and this one is no exception. It took me a little while to become accustomed to the sound world of Red Priest – recorder, violin, cello and harpsichord – as applied to Handel’s Messiah but I found I soon entered into it and really enjoyed their imaginative interpretations of such well-known music. There is a lot of very fine, conventional playing, contrasting with sections of virtuosic mania. The arrangements, originally by Angela East but developed and re-worked during the rehearsal process, are extremely ingenious and half the fun lies in picking out the little snippets of other pieces which creep in. There are some wonderful variations for Piers Adams in The Recorder Shall Sound, followed by a lovely duet for bass recorder and violin in Despised and Rejected. Siciliano Pedicuro (“How Beautiful are the Feet”) is another gorgeous duet, this time for violin and cello, and the only funny thing about it is the title. The jazzed-up “Hallelujah”, on the other hand, had me laughing as, after snatches of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, “Czardas” and other familiar tunes, it somehow turned into “Happy Birthday to You”.

“Lascia ch’io Pianga” from Rinaldo marks the start of the second half of the performance with some lovely violin playing by Julia Bishop. The Trio Sonata in F major op.2 no. 4 is the only piece in the programme originally composed for the Red Priest instrumental line-up, five hyper-active fast movements contrasted with beautifully ornamented slow ones. We are allowed to recover from the breath-taking “Harmonious Blacksmith Variations” with the beautiful Largo from Concerto Grosso op.3 no. 2. This leads into some very silly pizzicato which turns out to be the Passacaglia from the Keyboard Suite in G minor which has serious moments before becoming more and more manic. The finale is Zadok the Red Priest in which, as Piers Adams describes in his booklet notes, Zadok the Priest and the Queen of Sheba become unlikely but fervent lovers. Handel finally disappears into the wind with the bonus track, Aria Amorosa taken from the CD Priest on the Run.

Victoria Helby

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Categories
Book

Messiah: Understanding and Performing Handel’s Masterpiece

by Helmuth Rilling in collaboration with Kathy Saltzman Romey
Carus-Verlag (CV F 24.070), 2015.
128pp, €16.50.
ISBN 978 3 89948 223 2.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his strikes me as the work of an old-fashioned conductor born in 1933 – six years older than me. However, I kept my eyes on the musicology, and was refreshed when the early-instrument movement became common. I sang the work regularly in my teens, at first in the old-fashioned way from the Novello Prout edition of 1902 and later in the over-marked Watkins Shaw edition of 1959. Later I played continuo in the more fashionable style, generally reading from a complete score. I was honoured to be asked to produce a new edition of Messiah by Oxford University Press, published in 1998.[note]My Oxford University Press full-score edition of 1998 lists the 1754 and 1758 payments and parts on p. viii. The premiere in Dublin probably had 20 singers from the two Dublin choirs of Christ Church and St Patrick’s Cathedral. The 1749 must have been larger forces, both for choir and instruments, the latter having senza & con ripieno: there’s no such evidence for the later performances.[/note] I haven’t done any work on it since then.

Rilling has some good points, especially in pointing to Jennens’ complex and skilful arrangement of the Biblical text to inspire the composer. But two basic points are not discussed. (a) How many singers are appropriate for a choir? Information from the Foundling Hospital in the mid 1750s gives fairly accurate details of the forces concerned. I’m surprised that Rilling did not quote them – around 13 singers including soloists: perhaps stage performances may have had a few more singers. Rilling gives no attempts of the size of the choir or the orchestra, yet he quotes specific smaller groups without relating them to the full-scale modern orchestras that he seems to anticipate. (b) What pitch is being used? Rilling comments on high parts without referring to the lower semitone pitch, which must make some difference. And (c) he misunder­stands the presence of dynamics. The general indication of volume in the period is that the opening of a movement uses the full forces played with confidence, but piano is basically to make oboes and bassoons silent and the strings play at a lower level (though not necessarily as soft as piano).

In fact, Rilling fails by adding markings other than those that are obvious for the score but not necessarily for individual forte and piano. What he needs to think about is the shaping of individual phrases. That’s why there are so few indications of musicality within music of the period. More important than marking dynamics is the shaping of the phrase. The first Accompagnato begins with four bars of strings. The dynamic is quite low (but not low enough to warrant piano). The tenor enters on the chord in bar 4 with Com-fort ye. This has three notes: the singer requires presence, but not particularly high volume. The other half of the bar – for two violins & viola – contrasts, but the absence of a bass makes it plausible to keep the strings at a moderate volume: the two sounds are different but the strings do not need to be echoes. Bar 5 starts with the strings, but con Rip (added in 1749) implying a louder volume, but probably not a forte.[note]The OUP edition has included f and p where there are con & senza ripieno marks; Carus omits f and p.[/note] The voice enters on a top E on the second minim, with a longer phrase: Comfort ye my people. The long Com– should have a brief accent from the first letter (C), then cutting back lower at once followed by a crescendo –om– then lightening fort, semiquaver #f and #g, continuing noticeably to ye my leading slightly on to the semiquaver at the end of the bar ye, ending the phrase with a slight rise on the first note of bar 7 people, followed by diminuendo. Throughout there’s a vast pattern of shaping small phrases.

Similarly, choruses should sing in the same way. The opening of the Hallelujah Chorus presents problems since the crucial word has no fixed stress. Bars 4 & 5 make sense with a strong first syllable, but more plausible is accenting the third syllable in bar 6, but in bar 7 the strong point is the first note in the bar again, with a slight diminuendo for the strings to follow more quietly. I’m not necessarily following the accents on the Hallelujahs; they need to be shaped.

This sort of detail is rare. I think that the shaping of most baroque music is discovered within the phrases, without dynamics that became essential in the 19th century, and we eventually find modern 20th-century scores that can have a separate dynamic on and between each note – let alone pieces that flippantly have dynamics in silent bars! There’s too much about size and volume, while the shaping of phrases is ignored. It is ironic that the Carus edition (55.056) of 2009, by Ton Koopman and Jan H. Siemons is recommended by Rilling, but is more in accord with earlier editions over shortening upbeats. Rilling needs to be much more subtle. The premiere of my edition was given by the Huddersfield Choral Society for the famous Christmas events. The choir was quite large, the orchestra a substantial chamber orchestra, a big organ, a packed audience and a marvellous conductor who hadn’t played the piece before. The musical style isn’t entirely dependent on the size of the choir. Rilling oversimplifies by not commenting on different forces – both size and whether modern or early instruments.

However, the remarks on each number will encourage conductors and performers to think about the work, even if it is rather too general and often repetitive.

Clifford Bartlett

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Categories
Recording

Music in the time of Velázquez

Ensemble La Romanesca, José Miguel Moreno
62:45
Glossa GCD C80201

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is hard to believe that this sparkling recital was originally issued in 1993; the repertoire it explores, that of 17th-century Spanish secular music, remains relatively little known. Much of the vocal half of the disc is devoted to the theatre music of Juan Hidalgo, who was closely associated with the great dramatist Calderón. Marta Almajano’s delicate and precise soprano negotiates his teasing and rhythmically complex lines with aplomb – try the delightful ‘Cuydado, Pastor’ for an appetite whetter. I particularly enjoyed Sebastián Durón’s lovely ‘Sosieguen, descansen’, with its haunting gamba-obbligato’d triple-time refrain. Unfortunately the booklet only gives the texts in Spanish; with such dramatically conceived music, translations would have been very helpful. Moreno and the instrumentalists of Ensemble La Romanesca come to the fore in the remaining half of the disc, with a dazzling display of variations on well-known grounds of the period, e. g., the lovely Sanz Canarios, along with a couple of more extended fantasias; that by Salaverde is especially memorable.

Alastair Harper

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