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Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1555-1612): A Thematic Catalogue of His Music with a Guide to the Source Materials and Translations of His Vocal Texts.

Very often a thematic catalogue for a major composer refines, consolidates, and systematizes previous research, sometimes serving to codify generations of scholarship. Richard Charteris's new thematic catalogue of Giovanni Gabrieli's music is less an act of synthesis than a major breakthrough. The task facing Charteris was particularly daunting, for it would be hard to think of an equally prominent composer on whom the literature remains so meager. In this century, only two major scholars besides Charteris, Egon Kenton and Denis Arnold, have made contributions to Gabrieli research over the course of a career, and the number of substantial articles, monographs, and dissertations on Gabriel's music remains remarkably small. Several preliminary catalogues of Gabrieli's oeuvre had been prepared, most notably the one published in Kenton's Life and Works of Giovanni Gabrieli (s.l.: American Institute of Musicology, 1967), but even his catalogue provided little more than rudimentary bibliographical control. The Charteris catalogue, then, is most welcome, for it provides a truly comprehensive listing of the sources for Gabrieli's music for the first time, not only identifying a large number of overlooked manuscripts and printed editions, but also carefully reevaluating those that were previously known.

The degree to which Charteris's catalogue extends our knowledge of Gabrieli's works can be gauged from several telling figures: his catalogue adds forty compositions to the Gabrieli canon and augments the number of known manuscript sources for the music by no fewer than 160. The publication of this magisterial catalogue, along with Charteris's twelve-volume critical edition of Gabrieli's works, whose publication is now in progress (American Institute of Musicology, 1991-), marks a potential coming of age for Gabrieli scholarship.

The main portion of the catalogue is organized by genre, with each genre receiving slightly different treatment owing to somewhat dissimilar source situations. Thus, the motets are treated in five separate chapters, three devoted to the major editions (the Concerti, 1597; the Sacrae symphoniae, 1597; and the Symphoniae sacrae, 1615), one devoted to motets in manuscripts sources and printed anthologies, and another to incomplete motets and related works. Instrumental ensemble works are treated in two chapters, one containing entries for works from the Canzoni et sonate, 1615, and the other combining entries for the Sacrae symphoniae, 1597 with those for works in anthologies and manuscripts. Single chapters are allotted to madrigals and keyboard works, and three remaining chapters provide entries for contrafacta, works with questionable attributions, and works whose ascriptions to Gabrieli are spurious. While the reasons for some of these groupings may not be immediately apparent, they will have the great advantage of corresponding with the organization of forthcoming volumes in the Gabrieli Gesamtausgabe.

Most of the entries for individual works are typical of those found in thematic catalogues of similar repertories: the title and number of voices, an incipit showing original clefs, key signatures, note values, a listing of the sources, modern editions of the work, cross-references to previous indexes, sources for the texts of vocal works, information on the liturgical uses of religious texts, and additional commentary, including relevant secondary literature.

The catalogue also includes several unaccustomed features, including complete translations of all the vocal texts, a thoughtful addition that renders the catalogue even more useful. In addition, the catalogue includes translations of the dedications from five Venetian editions closely connected to Gabrieli. For translations of biblical texts, Charteris relies on the Authorized version; the so-called Douay Bible, which provides modern translation directly from the Vulgate, would have been a more logical choice. A spot-check of nonbiblical translations from both Latin and Italian, suggests that they are accurate, at times even elegant. Another feature that is not commonly found in thematic catalogues is an extensive discography, complete with an index to the works contained on each recording.

Charteris clearly inclines toward being inclusive, even exhaustive in his editorial approach. The commentary on the well-known "In ecclesiis" from the 1615 Symphoniae sacrae, for example, contains more than one hundred citations of relevant literature, not only to substantial works of scholarship but also to publications in which the motet is mentioned only in passing. The list even includes entries for a number of undergraduate music appreciation textbooks, notably three separate editions of Donald Grout's (or Grout/Palisca) A History of Western Music. Similarly, there are entries for no fewer than forty-three modern editions of "In ecclesiis," including arrangements of portions of the piece, short excerpts from music history and counterpoint textbooks, and an orchestral piece by Bruno Maderna based loosely on Gabrieli's motet. The treatment of liturgical texts shows a similar devotion to detail. For motets that set several verses drawn from a single psalm, for instance, Charteris lists every feast at which the complete psalm is sung, not only in the liturgy of St. Mark's, but also in the post-Tridentine Roman liturgy. For some works such listings run to three or four columns and include references to nearly one hundred separate feast days. Another, perhaps less-welcome, example of this penchant for exhaustiveness involves portions of text that are repeated. To cite one example, the entries for every motet from the 1597 Sacrae symphoniae begin with an identical note concerning the work's attribution, which runs: "'IOANNIS GABRIELII' on the title-page of each part-book (Gabrieli's name also appears in the abbreviated titles of the print at the foot of some pages throughout the part-books)." Since the attributions for these works is hardly in question, such a statement could surely have been included at the beginning of the entries for the Sacrae symphoniae instead of being repeated forty-six times.

The inclusion of so much material in the entries, with relatively little attempt at critical evaluation, makes the catalogue larger and more cumbersome to use than it might have been. Still, it is impossible not to be impressed, even awed, by the command of detail that informs every page. With remarkable facility Charteris deals with bibliography, liturgy, and four more or less discrete bodies of secondary literature (those for sacred music, madrigal, concerted instrumental works, and keyboard music). In fact, Charteris's inclusiveness also yields significant dividends. His discussions of questions of attribution surrounding doubtful and spurious works are always carefully reasoned, with all the evidence presented with dispassionate objectivity. The author also includes in his preface a list of the pupils of Gabrieli, and, even more important, an evaluation of seventeen other musicians who have been claimed as Gabrieli students, but who either did not study with the Venetian master, or whose relationship with him is tenuous, ambiguous, or, in several cases, nonexistent. This portion of the book contains many useful corrections to previous literature. Another felicitous decision was the addition in the chapter on contrafacta of notes on early printed copies of Gabrieli's works in which handwritten alternative texts appear.

Charteris's thoroughness also makes this catalogue useful in ways that transcend studies of Gabrieli's music. For example, appendix 3, "Manuscript Sources," provides detailed information on the manuscript sources discussed in the catalogue. Yet it turns out to be one of the most useful concise guides to the provenance, dating, and literature on many of the most important collections of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century music, including the Graz choirbooks housed in the Austrian National Library; the manuscripts from the Sammlung Bohn, lost during the Second World War and now in Berlin; the manuscripts from the courts of Landgraves Moritz and Wilhelm of Hessen-Kassel, now in the Landesbibliothek und Murhardsche Bibliothek der Stadt Kassel; and the Proske Collection in the Bischofliche Zentralbibliothek, Regensburg.

A close reading of the catalogue discloses a number of recurrent themes that constitute open invitations for future research on Gabrieli. One such is the extraordinary extent to which Gabrieli's works were adapted and arranged during his lifetime, quite possibly by the composer himself. Charteris shows that some sources long considered to preserve a single work, in fact, transmit separate, though related compositions. To cite only a single example involving a well-known composition, there are two versions of the motet "Timor et tremor," one published in the Reliquiae sacrorum concentuum (Nuremberg, 1615) and transmitted in several later manuscripts, and a second distinct version, preserved in the Berlin manuscript D-B Mus. MS 40028. The catalogue also contains a wealth of information about similarities between sections of compositions that had gone unnoticed before Charteris's pioneering work. Charteris is able to reveal even more distant connections. He notes, for example, that Giovanni Battista Riccio (fl. 1609-1621) used the initial notes of the fifth voice of Gabrieli's "Audi Domine hymnum" in his own setting of "Audite omnes gentes."

In general, the catalogue is easy to navigate, thanks in part to several useful indexes, including a title index, a name index, a numerical index, and an index of the liturgical uses and textual sources for the sacred texts. Still, as is almost inevitable in a catalogue of this scope, there are some small idiosyncrasies with which users must cope. For example, "C 3" refers to the third piece in Charteris's catalogue "Deus Deus meus ad te," while "C3" designates the alto clef. Both of these are abbreviations, and are thus explained on p. xxvi. In contrast, the letters "GR," "AM," and "LU" (respectively Graduale Romanae, Antiphonale monasticum, and Liber usualis), which also appear to be abbreviations, are found in the bibliography, although nearly all bibliographic citations have the form author-date (e.g., "Charteris 1984"). One finds information on the manuscript D-B Mus. MS 40615, as expected, in the appendix on manuscript sources, yet it took me considerable time to locate information on D-B Mus. MS 40608 (a thirteenth-century Gradual from St. Mark's, Venice), which is listed in a separate, and otherwise unidentified subsection called "General Manuscript Sources." The short titles employed in the catalogue are also somewhat awkward. The principal printed collections for Gabrieli's music are consistently referred to by their numbers in RISM series A/1. Thus, the Concerti di Andrea, et di Gio: Gabrieli (Venice, 1587) is designated throughout the catalogue as "RISM G 85 (1587)"; a short title such as "Concerti 1587" might have been both simpler and more evocative. These reservations are minor in a book of this scope; after only a brief acquaintance, the book becomes a delight to use.

This publication marks yet another landmark contribution to the Gabrieli literature from a scholar whose previous work has significantly advanced our understanding of the composer's music. Charteris's catalogue will become an indispensable source for all future Gabrieli research, and one suspects that it will not be long before references to Gabrieli's works in the literature and on recordings will routinely bear "C numbers." Moreover, the care and attention to detail with which this catalogue has been prepared ensure that it will remain useful for a long time to come. It is difficult to imagine that any sections other than the discography. and references to secondary literature will ever require more than a modest updating. It is particularly regrettable, and a real indignity for the author, that the publishers did not exercise similar care in their presentation of this volume. The copy editing is uneven, and Gabrieli's name is misspelled (Gabrielli) on both the front cover and spine.

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Author:Saunders, Steven
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1997
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