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Italian Madrigals Englished (1590).

Thomas Watson. Italian Madrigals Englished (1590). Transcribed and edited by Albert Chatterley. (Musica Britannica, 74.) London: Stainer and Bell, 1999. [Pref. in Eng., Fr., Ger., p. xix-xxi; introd., p. xxiii-xxvii; calendar on the life of Thomas Watson, p. xxviii-xxxiv; the source, p. xxxv-xxxvii; editorial method, p. xxxviii-xxxix; acknowledgments, p. xl; 6 plates, p. xli-xliii; score, p. 1-119; list of sources and abbreviations, p. 120-21; notes on the textual commentary, p. 122; textual commentary, p. 123-25; index of titles, p. 126-27. Cloth. ISMN M-2202-1953-5; ISBN 0-85249-850-0. [pounds sterling]76.50.]

Albert Chatterley's edition of the First Sett of Italian Madrigalls Englished, compiled and translated from the Italian by poet Thomas Watson (ca. 1557-1592) and published in 1590 by Thomas East (Este) in London, has much to recommend it. This important anthology, consisting of twenty-eight four-, five-, and six-voice madrigals, twenty-three of which were composed by Luca Marenzio (1553 / 54-1599), played a significant role in making Italian madrigals accessible to English audiences and musicians (the other madrigals include one each by Girolamo Conversi [fl. 1572-1575], Giovanni Maria Nanino [1543 / 44-1607], and Alessandro Striggio [?1573-1630], and two settings of the original English text "This Sweet and Merry Month of May" by William Byrd [ca. 1540-1623]). As Chatterley notes in the preface (p. xix), Watson's goal was not a literal translation of the words but rather a text that reflected (or "read") the gestures in the music, or as Watson wrote in the title "not to the sense of the originall dittie, but after the affection of the Noate." (For an excellent comparison of Watson's approach with that of Nicholas Yonge, the compiler of the two books of Musica transalpina published by East in 1588 and 1597, see Laura Macy, "The Due Decorum Kept: Elizabethan Translation and the Madrigals Englished of Nicholas Yonge and Thomas Watson," Journal of Musicological Research 17 [1998]: 1-21.)

In keeping with the high standards of Musica Britannica, this edition has a very helpful introduction, with a chronology of Watson's biography and literary works, as well as the customary critical apparatus. I would have welcomed, though, a section addressing the considerable secondary literature on Italian Madrigalls Englished, which might include, for example, Katherine Duncan-Jones's important essay, "'Melancholie Times': Musical Recollections of Sidney by William Byrd and Thomas Watson," in The Well Enchanting Skill: Music, Poetry, and Drama in The Culture of the Renaissance; Essays in Honour of F. W. Sternfeld (ed. John Caldwell, Edward Olleson, and Susan Wollenberg, 171-80 [Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1990]). Chatterley provides explanations in the critical notes of references in some of the texts to Philip Sidney and his circle, but discussion of the political context of the edition would have been enlightening, such as the significance of its dedication to the earl of Essex (see Paul E. J. Hammer. The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597, Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999]).

Chatterley has underlaid both Watson's English lyrics (with modernized orthography and punctuation) and the original Italian (the print gives only the Italian incipits), and at the end of each madrigal, he provides the English poem in its original spelling and a translation of the Italian. With this richness it seems churlish to complain, but I would

have liked to see the Italian text set forth in poetic form at the end as well to facilitate a line-by-line comparison with Watson's poetic reworkings and Chatterley's English translations.

I agree with most of Chatterley's editorial decisions. It does take a fine eye, however, to tell the difference in the size of accidentals (the smaller ones indicate editorial additions); the suppression of "extra" accidentals requires scholars wishing to study the use of accidentals at this time to consult the 1590 publication. I do regret the decision to insert frequent changes in time signature not explicitly in the source ("A hemiola within a sesquialtera section is realised by a change of time-signature," p. xxxviii). In "How Long with Vain Complaining" (no. 19), for example, there are eleven changes of time signatures between mm. 47 and 63. The original has only one change of mensuration, a [??]3 at m. 47. The performer would do just as well simply to ignore the editorial alterations (time signatures and barring) and simply read the note values.

Chatterley has done a preliminary investigation of the various states represented in the surviving exemplars of Italian Madrigalls Englished (pp. xxxvi-xxxvii). For example, the title page of the medius part book, which differs from the other partbooks by its lack of the publisher's address, exists in two states with differing decorative bars below the part name. This is clear from plates 1-3, which show the title page of the sextus part book followed by reproductions of the medius title pages from two copies of that part book held by the Bodleian Library.

There are also problems with the signatures, particularly in the medius, but elsewhere as well, and here his explanation needs to be challenged. He argues that
 the simplest explanation for the odd sequence of gatherings is that
 the Medius volume was originally intended to be part of a collection
 of 24 five-part madrigals with regular A, B, C, and D gatherings, the
 last three containing eight works each. (p. xxxvi)

I suggest instead an explanation based on East's printing practices. Jeremy L. Smith (Thomas East and Music Publishing in Renaissance England [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003], 40), working from observations made by Mary S. Lewis (Antonio Gardano, Venetian Music Printer, 1538-1569: A Descriptive Bibliography and Historical Study, 2 vols. [New York: Garland Publishing, 1988-97], 1:68-75), argues that East used a practice known as vertical printing, in which the compositor sets a single gathering in all the partbooks before moving on to the next gathering; the advantage was that items such as headings, signatures, and numbers could be left unchanged from part to part. In fact, there is typographical evidence that East was using this method for Italian Madrigalls Englished: for "O Hear Me, Heavenly Powers" (no. 21), the first X in the Roman numeral heading "XXI" is placed a little too high in all the partbooks, and the M of "Marenzio" is slightly askew with an upright right leg. The mistakes in the signatures in the medius can thus be much more simply explained by vertical printing rather than Chatterley's much more complicated conjecture.

Understanding the structure of the original publication will help elucidate the problem. The edition consists of six partbooks: superius, contratenor, tenor, and bassus with music for four, five, and six voices; medius with music for five and six voices only; and sextus with music for six voices only. The opening gathering in all partbooks contains the front matter and consists of two leaves (unsigned [A] and [Aii]). The superius, contratenor, tenor, and bassus have three normal quarto single sheet (four-leaf) gatherings and one half-sheet (two-leaf) gathering (BCD4E2). The contents map neatly onto this structure: B has the eight four-voice madrigals, C and the first half of D the twelve five-voice madrigals, and the second half of D and E the eight six-voice madrigals. Since the medius does not have the four-voice madrigals, it consists of three gatherings (two four-leaf and one two-leaf) instead of four (three four-leaf and one two-leaf), plus the front matter. The sextus consists of a single four-leaf gathering, plus the front matter. Such an organization is typical of partbooks that contain compositions for varied numbers of voices.

East mistakenly called the second gathering of the medius C, the label it had in the superius, contratenor, tenor, and bassus, instead of B, the correct signature for the second gathering; and the fourth gathering E rather than D. In several copies I have examined (at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.; Huntington Library, San Marino, California; Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois; and Houghton Library, Harvard University), the C has been corrected to B by a cancel slip pasted over the C (and at the Huntington by pen as well), and E to D; some copies leave Eii uncorrected, others have Dii printed (not a cancel slip), suggesting a stop-press correction. A careful examination of all extant copies will help show changes and corrections during the production of this set of partbooks.

Despite the quibbles raised in this review, it is wonderful to have a modern edition of Watson's Italian Madrigalls Englished, and I look forward to comparable editions of related sources.


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Author:Owens, Jessie Ann
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Date:Dec 1, 2004
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