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Carmina Obscurita and other curiosities.

This review covers something of a hodgepodge of musical styles that span four centuries and include works for church, chamber, concert hall, and opera stage. A large group of settings of liturgical Latin texts from relatively obscure seventeenth and eighteenth century composers gave me half of the quirky title, while the second half reflects the less well known status of the other works, with a few operatic exceptions. The several works from the Baroque era receive only general comments, as the styles are familiar to us from music history classes. I include them because some might be useful for various voice types, and because doctoral students looking for a dissertation topic or other scholars seeking research topics might find an idea.

The songs included are by unfamiliar nineteenth century composers, with one familiar exception, and one late twentieth century German composer. This repertoire might be useful for graduate students looking for something totally different from the standard German and French song composers, either for performance or a new topic for discussion or analysis. The opera collections, with one exception, are ongoing publications of the Cantelopera Series, which has been reviewed in previous issues of the Journal.

Scholars and publishers are very busy these days either unearthing long lost works of lesser known composers (carmina obscurita) or making new volumes of old arias with some modern technologic aids included for the benefit of the student singer. The scholars are especially active in Germany and England, ferreting out music that was eclipsed by the music of composers who have stood the test of time. Some of these works hold interest for us today, while others will be curiosities for early music ensembles in the university setting. Several are for bass voice, for which there is always room for more repertoire. On the operatic side, Ricordi (BMG Publications) is having a field day repackaging arias, and now duets, along with CDs of actual performances with orchestra as well as CDs of the orchestral accompaniment alone. The music publishing industry is alive and well. All in all, it's a grab bag of sorts, and I hope someone finds a prize.

The Green Man Press (Cedric Lee, General Editor) is a British publishing company that specializes in making available at a reasonable cost vocal works from the Baroque era. Other works from this press were reviewed in the November/December 2005 issue of the Journal. Five new volumes of this series are now available, three from the Italian repertoire and two from the English.

Each volume contains a Foreword containing information about the composer and his works, some editorial notes on the music itself, the texts, translations (where pertinent), a full score with minimally realized figured bass, a continuo part, and a full score with figured bass line only for those keyboard players who are comfortable realizing figured bass at sight. All five volumes, containing twelve separate works, include the bass voice, and eight of the works are for bass voice with continuo. Two are duets for two basses, and four are works for bass and soprano with continuo. One suspects that either the editor or a friend of the press is a bass! In any case, new repertoire for bass voice is always welcome.

A glance at the scores reveals substantial music. These works are not easy either musically or vocally, and there are many virtuosic passages in the style of Handel and Purcell. The texts include both sacred and secular poetry suitable for either church or concert hall. The pairings of two basses and bass and soprano provide opportunities for unusual programming. In general, basses singing these works need full low Fs and Es, often a reliable low D, and facility with coloratura singing.

JEFFREYS, GEORGE. THREE DIALOGUES for soprano, bass and continuo. Green Man Press (CVR), 2001. Composed mid-seventeenth century (?).

1. "Lovely Sheaphard, ope thine Eye" (Febisse & Endimion). F major; Sop/[D.sub.4] - [G.sub.5], Bass/[D.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

2. "Why sigh you swayne?" (Nymph & Sheaphard). G major; Sop/[D.sub.4] - [F.sub.5], Bass/[G.sub.2] - [C.sub.4].

3. "Heu me miseram" (Maria et Angelis). G minor; Sop/[D.sub.4] - [G.sub.5], Bass/[D.sub.2] - [C.sub.4].

The following two duets are published together in one volume under "Jeffreys & Purcell."

--. "With Notes that are both loud and sweet." For the Ascension of our Bld. Saviour. Green Man Press (CVR), 2001. Composed mid-seventeenth century (?). A minor/major; [D.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

PURCELL, HENRY (1659-1695). "Awake ye Dead" (Z.182). An Hymn upon the Last Day. Green Man Press (CVR), 2001. Composed ?, published 1693. C major; [G.sub.2] - [F.sub.4].

LEGRENZI, GIOVANNI (c. 1626-1690). A CANTATA & TWO CANZONETTAS for bass and basso continuo. Green Man Press (CVR), 2001. Composed possibly in the 1670s.

1. "Amore e virtu" (Cantata). G minor; [G.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

2. "Son canuto e d'un bambin" (Canzonetta). [B.sup.[flat]] major; [G.sub.2] - [D.sub.4]

3. "Il mio core non e con me" (Canzonetta). D minor (?); [G.sub.2] - [E.sub.4].

MAZZOCCHI, DOMENICO (1592-1665). BATTAGLIA PER ESPUGNARE AMORE. Concerto a 3 for two sopranos, bass and basso continuo. Green Man Press (CVR), 2002. Composed probably in the 1630s and published in 1640. F major; Sop/[D.sub.4] - [G.sub.5], Bass/[F.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

--. THREE SONGS FOR SOLO BASS. Green Man Press (CVR), 2001. Composed possibly in 1630s and published in 1638 and 1640.

1. "Sonetto: Cura, che di timor ti nutri." G minor; [D.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

2. "Ottave: Padre del ciel." G minor; [D.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

3. "Sonetto: Corre con piede di sonoro argento." F major; [D.sub.2] - [D.sub.4].

Edition Walhall, established in 1993, is the imprint of Verlag Franz Biersack (Magdeburg) that publishes church music and sacred music for the solo voice and other instruments. Previous volumes were listed in the November/ December 2005 issue of the Journal. As noted in that review, there are several series within this imprint, and five of them are represented here. This body of music will be of interest to university and professional early music groups and to singers skilled in the virtuoso technique of the Baroque style. Because of the large volume of music included here, only general information will be given. The individual works range from rather short to extensive; vocal ranges are not extreme except for the ranges for bass; the tessitura of those works for alto voice is very low by modern standards (similar to "O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion," but more extreme on the bottom); there is much text repetition and interplay between voice and instruments; and there are extensive bravura coloratura passages in many of the works. The texts are liturgical or biblical, mostly Psalm settings with one or two Marian texts.

The instrumental parts are typical of the style period. The full scores contain only figured bass lines for the continuo; therefore, the keyboard player will need to be skilled at realization. Parts for each instrument are included with the full score.

Seraphic Tunes [series], edited by Kai Wessel.

PISTOCCHI, F. A. M. (1659-1726). DOLOROSA PARTENZA. Kantate fur Sopran & B.c. Edition Walhall, 2005. Composed c. 1698. Minor keys; [E.sub.4] - [G.sub.5].

Puer Natus in Bethlehem [series]. Weihnachtsmusik herausgegeben von Konrad Ruhland.

STADEN, JOHANN (1581-1643). GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO fur 2 Soprane, 2 Violinen, Viola, Violoncello (oder 4 Viols da gamba oder 4 Blockfloten) & B. c. Edition Walhall, 2004. Composed possibly 1620s or 1630s. F major; [D.sub.4] - [G.sub.5].

Musica Speciosa [series] herausgegeben von Konrad Ruhland.


(Ps. 158/150) fur Alt, 2 Violinen, 3 Violettae (oder Posaunen) & B. c. Edition Walhall, 2004. Seventeenth century. C major; [G.sub.3] - [B.sub.4] (alto clef).

KAISER FERDINAND III (1608-1657). AVE MARIS STELLA (Hymnus B.M.V.) fur Sopran, Alt, Violine, Viola (da gamba) & B. c. Edition Walhall, 2005. Composed 18 November 1649. G major/minor; Sop/[F.sub.4] - [A.sub.5], Alt/[F.sup.#.sub.3] - [A.sub.4].

HOFER, ANDREAS (c. 1629-1684). LAUDATE PUERI DOMINUM (Ps. 112) fur Tenor, 3 Violen & B. c. Edition Walhall, 2004. First published in Salzburg in 1654. G major; [C.sup.#.sub.3] - [G.sub.4].

--. NISI DOMINUS (Ps. 126) & CONFITEBOR (Ps. 110) fur Sopran, 2 Violinen & B. c. Edition Walhall, 2004. First published in Salzburg in 1654. D major; [D.sub.4] - [F.sup.#.sub.5]; B minor; [E.sub.4] - [A.sub.5].

POGLIETTI, ALESSANDRO (?-1683). AD MATREM VENITE. Motette fur Sopran, 2 Violinen, 3 Violen & B. c. Edition Walhall, 2005. Mid-seventeenth century composition. A major; [B.sub.3] - [F.sup.#.sub.5].

Collegium Musicum. Kolner Reihe Alter Musik. Herausgegeben von Michael Ducker.

RISTORI, GIOVANNI ALBERTO (1692-1753). DIVOTI AFFETTI ALLA PASSIONE DI NOSTRO SIGNORE. 10 Duette fur Sopran, Alt, Theorbe (oder Gitarre/Violoncello) & Orgel. Edition Walhall, 2005.

Possibly composed around 1738 for Sundays and Fridays in Lent, these ten duets are settings of pietistic Latin poems of unknown origin that present emotional reactions to the Passion of Jesus. They would have been sung after the sermon on Sundays and Fridays and perhaps during devotions in Holy Week. The scoring for the voices is smooth and interesting, but only the figured bass line is given for the accompaniment--truly a scholarly edition with probably limited performance use, except for expert Baroque keyboard players. Where duet literature is desired, however, these would be interesting to investigate.

An entire series appears to be devoted to the music of Rupert Ignaz Mayr, whose music, like that of the composers cited above, is quite virtuosic and demands highly skilled singers. The works are for church, liturgy, or concert use where appropriate singers and instrumentalists are available. Individual titles are listed below.

MAYR, RUPERT IGNAZ (1646-1712). SACRI CONCENTUS. Psalmorum, Antiphonarum, piarum Cantionum ex sola voce et diversis instrumentis, opus III. Erste vollstandige Neuausgabe in 12 Banden. Herausgegeben von Irmgard Schmid. Edition Walhall, 2004, 2005. Composed in 1681.

1. "Alma Redemptoris mater" fur Tenor, zwei Violinen, drei Violen und Basso continuo.

2. "Nisi Dominus" fur Bass, Violine und Basso continuo.

3. "Beati omnes" fur Alt, Posaune (oder Viola da braccio) und Basso continuo.

4. "Confitebor tibi" fur Tenor, zwei Violinen und Basso continuo.

5. "Laudate pueri Dominum" fur Sopran (oder Tenor), Violine und Basso continuo.

BACH, CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL (1714-1788). GEISTLICHE GESANGE NACH CHRISTOPH CHRISTIAN STURM fur hohe Singstimme & Clavier. Two volumes edited by Ludger Remy. Edition Walhall, 2004. Collections dated 1789 and 1781, published in Hamburg.

Both volumes contain a scholarly article including much information on both Bach and Sturm. Sturm was a well regarded preacher in both Halle and Hamburg and began quite early in his career writing religious hymn texts as well as "general reflections which were very often focused on nature." A follower of the ideas of the Enlightenment, Sturm often turned to nature for spiritual insight. He is quoted in the introductory article as follows: "It was my intention to present (a hymn book) that one would be able to use for self-edification when contemplating on nature or perhaps also when spending some time in the country ... Most of the (poets) have only seen nature's laughing face, not viewing it as a school of religious feelings."

The sixty songs contained in these two volumes are typical of the general style of C. P. E. Bach in his gradual movement away from the simplistic principles of Marpurg and Krause and toward the musical style that would culminate in the songs of Beethoven. Though the melodies remain fairly simple, the harmonic structures take on more interest, as do the accompaniment figures in some songs. All of the songs are short, most being only one page, although there are many stanzas. In most cases some of the stanzas are printed on the opposing page. All texts are in the original German, and there are no English translations given. Except for this difficulty, these would be excellent teaching songs for students beginning their study of German song. If in fact there are no English translations available for these texts, a graduate student who is knowledgeable in German and has a flair for putting words together could perhaps do this helpful work as a thesis topic.

MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, FELIX (1809-1847). SECHS GEISTLICHE UND WELTLICHE LIEDER fur Singstimme und Orgel (Bearbeitet von Reinhard Ardelt). Edition Walhall, 2004. Traditional keys; [D.sub.4] - [G.sub.5] overall range.

In a short Preface, arranger Reinhard Ardelt makes a case for these six songs originally composed with piano accompaniment being well suited for church use with organ accompaniment. Three of the songs have sacred texts, and the three others have texts that could easily be used in a church concert setting. All of the songs are given in Mendelssohn's original keys, and some indications of what manuals would be good for the organ accompaniments are also provided.

The vocal lines are familiar Mendelssohn contours and are not difficult. The texts are in German, and no English translations are given. It would be nice to have good English singing translations for these songs so that they would be useful in American churches that still welcome traditional sacred music. It is possible that one can find translations of all of Mendelssohn's songs, including those in this volume. The organ arrangements appear to be clean and workable and not too difficult.

TITLES: "Geistliches Lied" (Arioso); "Erntelied" (several stanzas); "Entsagung" (J. G. Droysen); "Im Herbst" (C. Klingemann); "Trostung" (Hoffmann von Fallersleben); "Nachtlied" (Joseph von Eichendorff).

[Amusing Note: The last three pages of this volume contain one page of a song each, presumably included in another publication and reminiscent of early twentieth century American sheet music that contained advertising on the back page in the form of one page of a new song. Inevitably the page ended in the middle of a phrase or even of a word, providing many chuckles to singers and pianists alike. Can anyone who was present at the banquet of the NATS Convention in Louisville (KY) in 1981 ever forget Gordon Myers's encores of several of these single pages at the conclusion of his hilarious presentation of "The Art of Belly Canto"?]

ABBREVIATION KEY: Diff = difficulty Level; V = voice; P = piano; E = easy; ME = moderately easy; M = medium; MD = moderately difficult; D = difficult; DD = very difficult; Tess = tessitura; LL = very low; L = low; mL = moderately Low ; M = medium; mH = moderately high; H = high HH = very high; CR = covers Range; CS = covers staff; X = no clear Key center.

Judith Carman holds the BM and MM degrees in vocal performance with minors in piano and languages from George Peabody College for Teachers, the DMA degree in vocal performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa, and has done postdoctoral studies in advanced musical analysis and conducting at the University of Houston. Her dissertation in American art song, "Twentieth-Century American Song Cycles: A Study in Circle Imagery," led to the chairmanship of the 1976 NATS Committee on American Song, which produced the first edition of Art-Song in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography(1976), of which she was the editor. A contributing author to the Second Edition (1987) of the bibliography, Dr. Carman is again the editor of Art Song in the United States, 1759-1999: An Annotated Bibliography, Third Edition (2001).

Dr. Carman has maintained a private voice studio in Houston since 1979. She has also taught studio and class voice, diction, song literature, and voice pedagogy at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, The University of Iowa, Central Michigan University, Lansing Community College, Houston Baptist University, and Texas Southern University. At the NATS Summer Intern Programs of 2002-2004, she presented sessions on vocal literature that featured performances by the interns.

A certified Yoga Instructor, Dr. Carman has designed and teaches Yoga for Singers classes that focus on yoga practices to develop and strengthen breathing and concentration techniques. She has conducted Yoga and Singing workshops at various colleges and universities as well as in other venues, and has taught yoga to the Young Artists of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
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Author:Carman, Judith
Publication:Journal of Singing
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Previous Article:Martha Gerhart, Italian Song Text from the 17th through the 20th Centuries. Volume II: Italian Song Texts from the 18th Century.
Next Article:Song collections.

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