The brilliant scholarly introduction, by Maria Antonella Balsano, occupies generous double columns with an abundance of footnotes. The editor begins by presenting a rationale for the publication of Marto-retta's madrigals. Pietro Vinci, whose first works appeared in the late 1550s, had long been considered the founder of the Sicilian school of polyphony. Nevertheless, Martoretta's first published madrigals precede Vinci's first editions by more than a decade, and, indeed, Vinci's musical style can be seen to have been influenced by Martoretta's.
Sicily enjoyed the fruits of the great economic expansion during the middle decades of the sixteenth century. The extensive consumption of luxury goods, such as jewels, silk, and expensive cloth from the north, provoked the first sumptuary legislation in Sicily. Complex projects of urban renewal, road construction, aqueducts, and fountains become commonplace not only on the coast but in mountain cities as well. A postal service was founded, and the first Sicilian census took place in 1548. Artists of international stature began to work in Sicily, and, naturally, the madrigal, as the dominant musical genre of the period, also made its appearance.
Balsano places Martoretta's patron, Francesco Moncada, in the middle of the historical currents sweeping over the island during the sixteenth century. Carefully devised political marriages and wealth from their extensive estates propelled the Moncada family to a preeminence among the great noble families of the island. Balsano somewhat incautiously suggests that Martoretta's talent may have come to Moncada's attention with his madrigal "O fortunato augello," published in Jacques Arcadelt's Quinto libro di madrigali ... a quattro voci of 1544. By that time, Martoretta already seems to have been part of both Venetian and Roman madrigal circles.
In an intriguing study of reconstruction, Balsano turns to the single canto partbook that survives from Martoretta's first book of four-voice madrigals, published in 1548 (RISM A1, L352). She discusses Martoretta's use of musical cycles as well as his literary preference for Ariosto, Petrarch, and Ariosto-like texts (such as those by Luigi Cassola and Luigi Tansillo), all entirely in line with contemporary Sicilian literary tastes. Significantly, the viceroy of Sicily from 1535 to 1546 was Ferrante Gonzaga, one of the earliest patrons of Ariosto and son of the great musical and artistic patron Isabella d'Este. Although Balsano modestly admits that little can be deduced from the canto partbook alone, she succeeds in developing a remarkable social and musical context in which to view the musical fragment.
This leads to the subject of the edition itself, Martoretta's second book of madrigals (RISM A1, L353). In a highly unusual gesture by the composer, each of the pieces of the second book carries a separate dedication. Balsano, by examining the social position of these dedicatees and the sources of the madrigal texts, hints at a complex web of patronage and influence involving Sicilians, Neapolitans, and Calabrians. In this print, Martoretta adopted the note here style and seems to have been particularly influenced by the styles of Arcadelt and Cipriano de Rore. Rather unusual are four madrigals written for performance in two different modes, as well as two others with Sicilian texts and two more in Latin. Unlike his first collection, Martoretta makes less use here of musical cycles, although Balsano points out that Martoretta's later contemporary, Vinci, likely imitated his three opening madrigals on three stanzas of a canzone by Tansillo and perhaps his use of Latin texts as well.
The texts to all of the madrigals with their sources, authors, and both textual and musical variants or errors follow, along with ten handsome plates, including a portrait of Martoretta's patron, Francesco Moncada, as well as reproductions of pages from both the first and second books of madrigals. In addition to the pure physical beauty of the first forty pages, I found the entire opening to be remarkably free of textual misprints (I found only one - on p. xxii, "primo lugo" for "primo luogo").
The opening scholarly essay fares much better under close scrutiny than does the musical edition. Olschki continues to employ a rather ugly type for text underlay that compares unfavorably with the elegant type used elsewhere. Also, the musical format seems crowded, as on page 40, where twenty staves jam the page. I found six pitch errors, but most of these can be corrected out-of-hand. This is not the case with no. 21, "La bella donna chi lu pettu m'ardi," where an incorrect pitch in the tenor, a (m. 34, beat 1), might be replaced by b[flat], b??, or even g. In the same madrigal, the critical notes (p. xxxi) indicate that the tenor incorrectly carried d' as the last pitch of m. 26 in the 1552 print - and here it appears correctly, also as d'! In no. 27, "O notte o ciel," two errors may be found in the same location (m. 20, second semi-minim). The critical notes (p. xxxii) indicate that the tenor had been mistakenly printed as b[flat], and here it has been altered to c'. Yet apparently it is the bass that is incorrect, printed here as an a rather than as g, and the tenor proves to be correct after all.
I would have made far more liberal use of editorial accidentals to highlight the cadential implications of a major sixth expanding to an octave between two voices (or its inversion, the minor third collapsing into a unison) than Balsano has employed in this edition. Also, the application of accidentals to the lower member of a voice pair to produce Phrygian cadences was often overlooked, even though it would have been more generally consistent with the style of the madrigal. For instance, in no. 14, "Da un sol guardo," written e[flat]'s occur regularly in mm. 17-20. Yet in m. 20, Balsano creates the cadence by raising the c', not by lowering the e.
At least a dozen outright errors in the application of editorial accidentals may be found, particularly involving the failure to correct horizontal augmented fourths (no. 6, "Son questi i capei biondi," mm. 1-2, bass, f-b) or horizontal augmented fourths mediated by single pitches (no. 12, "Se far potessi," min. 12-13, bass, f-g-b). Occasionally no attempt is made to eliminate simultaneous cross-relations (no. 28, "Doppo che sott'il ciel," m. 19, alto f' against tenor f[sharp]) nor unpleasant vertical intervals (such as in no. 13, "Qual sventurato mai," min. 19-20, e-b[flat] between bass and alto, then again between bass and canto.) In some cases, identical harmonic and melodic situations in close proximity are treated in entirely different ways (no. 22, "Si e debile il filo," mm. 21-23, where an explicit f[sharp]' in the alto is followed by an editorial f[sharp]' in the same voice; although retaining the identical melodic and harmonic profile, the next phrase has no alto sharps specified). Consequently, many of these pieces simply could not be successfully performed by inexperienced singers.
Fortunately, most of the problems in the musical portion of the edition present few obstacles for a veteran of Renaissance music. Maria Antonella Balsano, and the publishing house of Olschki, should be commended for providing scholars with another valuable tool to aid in the interpretation of not only the periphery of the madrigal's development but also the central stylistic trends of the Italian Renaissance.
RICHARD J. AGEE The Colorado College
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|Author:||Agee, Richard J.|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1996|
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