Le Codex de Chypre (Torino, Biblioteca Universitaria J.II.9), vol. 1, Rondeaux et Virelais I.
Rondeaux et Virelais. I is the first volume in Ut Orpheus's new series Opus Ards Novae, Whose mission is to present editions of medieval polyphony in diplomatic transcription, that is, in the original notation. This volume includes a selection of works from (commonly referred to as TuB) located in the Biblioteca nazionale universi-taria, Turin. Other offerings in the series include an edition of ballades in TuB, as well as plans for a second volume of rondeaux and virelais from TuB, and two volumes From the Codex Canonici Miscellaneous 213 (Bologna, Biblioteca universitaria)--Du Fay's pieces, and the chansons bourguignonnes, respectively.
Rondeaux et Virelais I represents the first new edition of the pieces in TuB since Richard Hoppin's landmark edition of the entire Turin manuscript fifty years ago in The Cypriot-French Repertory of Mc Manuscript Torino, Biblioteca nazionale, 1.11.9 (4 vols., Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae, 21 [Rome: American Institute of Musicology, 1960-- Hoppin was the preeminent scholar of this repertoire following his 1952 dissertation on the motets from TuB ("The Motets of the Early 15th Century MS. J.II.9 in the Biblioteca nazioirale, Turin" [Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 19521). This fascinating repertoire has remained comparatively unexplored since then, and only a handful of recordings and a few scholarly articles have been devoted to specific aspects of this collection. The 1990s saw a resurgence of interest in TO), exemplified by a conference in 1992, the proceedings of which were published in The Cypriot-French Repertory of the Manuscript Torino J.II.9: Report of the International Musicological Congress, Paphos 20-25 March, 1992 (Ludwig Finscher and Ursula Gunther, eds., Musicological Studies & Documents, 45 [Neuhausen-Stuttgart: American Institute Musicology. 19951). A full-color facsimile edition was published in 1999 (Isabella Fragala Data and Karl Kugle. eds., IL codice J.II.9: Torino. Biblioteca nazionale universitaria Ars Nova, 4 [Lucca: Libreria NIL iii Ic Italiana, 1999]).
The MS Torino J.II.9 is a unique collection in the history of medieval polyphony because all of the music copied within it are both anonymous and unica. The creation of nth can be linked to Janus's reign (r. 1398-1432) by the front flyleaf which contains an abstract from a papal bull of John XXIII responding to Janus's request for the creation of an Office to St. Hilarion. Although long believed to have been written in Cyprus, the works bear no resemblance to traditional Cypriot music, which gathers its style mainly from Ancient Greek and Byzantine sources. The pieces, instead, are stylistically related to the contemporary French ars subtilior repertoire from the Continent.
The continental influence on Cyprus began when the island was wrested from Greek control by Richard the Lionheart in 1191. In the following year, Richard sold the island to the recently dispossessed king of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan. Following Guy's death in 1194, his brother Aimery de Lusignan was elected king, thus beginning over 250 years of French rule, which ended when Venetians assumed control of the island in 1489. Thus, the ruling class of Cyprus was "in effect an ex-patriate French .dynasty" (Andrew Wathey, "European Politics and Musical Culture at the Court of Cyprus," in 7'he Cypriot-French Repertory Manuscript Torino p. 33). Peter I of Cyprus (r. 1359-1369) is the most widely known of the Lusignan kings, having been written about in Guillaume de Machaut's poem La prise d'Alexandrie. Peter spent two months visiting the papal court in Avignon, and nearly a year in Venice in 1365. Three years later he returned to Italy, visiting Florence and Bologna, where he met Jean Froissart. He and his retinue had ample opportunities to become familiar with the continental music of the late fourteenth century. (For a thorough account of the continental influence of Cypriot nobles, see Richard Hoppin, "The Cypriot-French Repertory of the Mansucript Torino, Biblioteca nazionale 111.9," Musica Disciplina 11 : 79-125.) Hoppin suggests that the French musicians responsible for the creation of TuB may have arrived in 1411 with Charlotte of Bourbon, the second wife of Janus (Peter's nephew). She is said to have arrived in Cyprus with a retinue of sixty persons. including Gillet Veliont, possibly the smme composer whose pieces are found in continental ars subtilior sources. Other evidence linking the pieces in TuB with continental sources are the many textual correspondences. In addition to the text relationship between Amour me vient en sa donee prison, and Machaut's rondeau Tani doucement mo sens emprisonnes (Hoppin, Torino. J.II.9, 4:viii-ix), Karl Kugle also notes the similarities between the beginning of Vitry's motet Douce playsance/Garison (Garison scion nature) with the TuB virelai Garison, genie figure. Both examples show the "indebtedness of the Torino chanson repertory to the French courtly tradition of the fourteenth century" (Kugle, "The Repertory of Manuscript Torino, Biblioteca nazionale J. 119," in The Cypriot-French Repertory of the Manuscript Torino J.II.9 p. 169). These correspondences, along with accounts that the rites of the Roman Church in Cyprus were essentially performed in the same way as they were on the Continent, support the theory of a connection between TuB and the continental ars subtilior style. More recently, Kugle has argued that the manuscript in fact may have been compiled in Brescia, which would even better explain its close ties to other sources of the ars subtilior (Karl Kugle, "Glorious Sounds for a Holy Warrior: New Light on Codex Turin J.II.9," Journal of the American Musicological Society 65, no. 3 Tall 2012]: 637-90).
In Rondeaux et Virelais I, all of the nonmusical text is presented in both English and French. The text begins with an introduction, "Towards an Enlightened Reading of Ancient Notations," which lays out the editors' lofty goals and defends their decision to publish this repertoire in diplomatic transcription. They have chosen to present the music like other modern transcriptions of medieval polyphony, in score format, which "favors polyphonic listening and the vertical control of the contrapuntal meeting points" (p. xvii). I hope Lit Orpheus also chooses to publish the parts separately, as they did with the madrigal books of Monteverdi (Madrigali opera completa [Bologna: Ut Orpheus Edizioni, 1998-2011]). Those seasoned performers of this repertoire who .typically do not perform from modern scores would be most grateful. The arguments made for using the original notation are essentially strong even if the prose is a bit convoluted. Because a defining characteristic of this repertoire is its rhythmic subtlety, adherence to regular barlines when transcribing these works leads one to a false understanding of the music. That is to say, modern musicians is are trained to react with strong rhythmic responses to barlines. In typical modern transcriptions, which utilize barlines, we read medieval syncopations as "off-beats" rather than shirting the pulse temporarily in one direction or another. This anachronistic accenting obscures the subtle beauty of the complex rhythms. This edition, in diplomatic transcription with no barlines, facilitates a smooth execution of these rhythms without applying inappropriate stress.
The methodology used for these transcriptions is clearly laid out in the introduction. The editors relied on the facsimile edition of TuB cited above, which contains exceptional color photographs of the manuscript. Where there were doubts, they consulted the manuscript directly. As with any transcription, some deviations from the original are to be expected. In order to present the music with a more accurate vertical alignment, ligatures are separated into individual notes and indicated with square brackets. In an effort to keep printing costs down, the editors transcribed red notes (which show 1.sesquialtera proportions) as white notes (void black notes). Each voice part includes small notches, or ticks, on the top (fifth) line of each staff that delineate the breve. These ticks are helpful, but confusion can easily arise where the medieval scribe places a semibreve or minim rest (which look nearly identical to the tick) on the top line of the staff. When the individual voices are in different prolations simultaneously, the ticks follow the individual voice, that is, the ticks will not line up. Another modern concession the editors made was to include measure numbers in multiples of five, but only in the tenor part. Since the tenor is typically the least active, the extraneous numbers do not interfere with the reading of the music, and the' are practical for rehearsal purposes. The editors also attempted to align the text as closely as possible to its original placement. Of course, no transcription of medieval music would be complete without the addition of musica ficta. The editors have placed these in the conventional manner above the staff. They admit in the reader that their application of musica ficta follows the rules of medieval counterpoint. and should be treated as suggestions. Their ficta choices are similar to those of Hoppin in his edition, but here the editors have opted to suggest double leading-tone cadences far more often.
The next section of the introduction describes the editorial decisions made when transcribing the texts, which generally follow common usage. For example, they add the cedilla under the letter c when it should be pronounced as "s." The editors also add capital letters at the beginning of each verse, following a full stop. and tor proper names and personifications. They choose to add a dieresis on one of two consecutive vowels when the vowel should be pronounced separately in order to retain a proper syllable count. I found this unnecessary since the syllables are clearly divided under the music. In representing those letters in which abbreviations were used in the original, the editors chose not to print the restored letters in italics, stating that the goal of this score is essentially practical; however, in the few instances where the scribe omitted letters, presumably by mistake, these added letters are shown within square brackets. They did not normalize spelling, so variants like amor and amour, pitie and pite are left in the score. The syllabification in the scores follows modern French practice, but when dealing with the semivowel, there is not a standard way of dividing the syllable. I found their division of the semivowel very performer-friendly. The editors use the example of joye, which is divided jo-ye in both the manuscript and in Hoppin's edition (see the virelai Le mois de mal qui tout plein est de joy, Hoppin, vol. 4, no. 3; this edition, also no. 3). If the syllables are spread apart., or on different lines, the performer may not realize that the syllable is actually a diphthong; therefore, the editors wisely chose to divide the word as joy-e.
This edition presents the music with original clef's, mostly C clefs with the occasional F clef, and on five-line staves, which is consistent with the manuscript. The order of the staves for three-voice compositions differs from Hoppin's edition. Here, the editors have placed the tenor line in the middle. Each piece begins on a new page with the tide, form, and folio number. The music is well spaced and the text is printed in a clear, serif font. For particularly "torturous" figures of syncopation, the editors have indicated (in minims) the values of certain breves and semibreves (see no. 12, Tart psi douce Ia morsure). In addition to the aforementioned modern elements, the editors include staff groupings and the final barlines. They include a double bar to indicate the end of a section in the virelais, and a first-ending and second-ending bracket to more clearly show when these ouvert and clos endings begin; however, they do not include repeat signs. The editors include a section break in only one rondeau, no. 18, Nut urai amant ne pregne desconfort, which I believe was by mistake. In no other rondeau, even those whose sections end and begin cleanly at the completion of a breve, do they include the sectional double bar. Perhaps it was the result of an error in numbering the verses (verse 2 should read 2.8). It is curious that Hoppin also includes a double bar only in this particular rondeau.
The appendices of Rondeaux et Viretais are first presented in French, then in English, and include a short chart of abbreviations and the critical notes for each piece. In addition to discussing editorial decisions that involve variants from the source, the editors also include the syllable count and rhyme scheme of the text. In the appendix, they translate the original French texts into both modern French and English. The translations (French by Germana Schiassi, English by Terence Waterhouse) attempt to stay faithful to the original language, and respect the syntax and order of the lines of verse, but thankfully do not reproduce the rhyme.
One of the most valuable assets of this new edition is.. appendix 3, entitled "Milestones for Study" by Raphael Picazos. This seven-page synopsis of medieval mensural notation is one of the clearest I have read. It is "intended to give the reader the essential landmarks for the mechanisms of reading ancient rhythms" (p. 120 n. 1). Because it is a synopsis, it leaves out many of the exceptions to the rules, which abound in the manuscript sources. Consequently, it is a most valuable source for those performers who are just beginning their study of original notation, and a quick refresher for those who are coming hack to it. It wisely does not deal with the theories of solmisation or musica ficta, as those subjects are beyond the scope of a performing edition. What makes this synopsis so useful is the liberal use of music examples in the original notation. It begins by showing each note and rest shape, or token, and then gives a thorough explanation on the relationships between them in both perfect and imperfect time. It then explains the four prolations of French music and how they relate to one another. Picazos also lists which works are in which prolations so the reader can quickly reference the actual pieces to see complete music examples. The complex of points of addition, division, and [perfection are explained well, and have ver' clear examples.
When describing proportion and coloration, which are the hallmark of the ars subtilior, Picazos provides a copious number of music examples. He prudently in an exercise in which a musician can practice moving from one mensuration to the next. The notational representation of syncopation gets very complex. since it uses the punctus in ways other than for addition, division, or perfection. The explanation and examples are well done, but when faced with performing them from the actual score, they are still quite daunting. The final page includes a succinct bibliography of the Cypriot repertoire; paleography, philology, and history of the French language; a general overview of music history; notation; treatises on medieval music theory; and facsimile editions of related music.
This diplomatic transcription of rondeaux and virelais in TuB represents an auspicious beginning for a series sure to be of interest to all performers of medieval repertory. It will also be a welcome addition to any library supporting the study of early musk.
Illinois Wesleyan University
EDITED BY KEITH COCHRAN
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||MUSIC REVIEWS|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2013|
|Previous Article:||Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM) Sound Files Search and Discography.|
|Next Article:||Two versions of C.P.E. Bach's Magnificat.|