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Bernardo Pasquini. Le Cantate. Edited by Alexandra Nigito. (Monumenta Musica Europea, Section III: Baroque Era, vol. 2.) Turnhout: Brepols, 2012. [Library sigla, p. xiii; abbrevs., p. xiv; introd. in Ita., p. xv-lxxxviii; editorial criteria, p. lxxxix-xcii; MSS sigla, p. xciii-xciv; cantata texts, p. xcv-clxv; portrait, p. clxvii; score, p. 3-764; desc. of MSS, p. clxix-ccxiii; crit. apparatus, p. ccxv-cclxxi; index of facsims., p. cclxxiii; bibliog., p. cclxxv-cclxxxi. ISBN-13 978-2-503-51519-9. [euro]150.]

Italian nobles and gentlemen who loved modern music and lyric poetry enjoyed countless performances of chamber cantatas during the baroque era, but the cantatas have only disproportionately survived in manuscript copies that today are scattered from Stockholm to Palermo and from San Francisco to Cracow. Cantatas by Alessandro Scarlatti (over 600), Handel (ca. 100), and Vivaldi (ca. 40) form a regular part of nonspecialist singers' repertoires. Singers can now consider the cantatas of Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710), a versatile composer of the preceding generation. Born in Tuscany, he served in Rome from the 1660s as a highly connected organist, teacher, and composer of operas and oratorios. He was admitted to the Academy of the Arcadia in 1706, along with violinist Arcangelo Corelli and composer Alessandro Scarlatti. The first published biography of him appeared in 1720 in Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni's three-volume Notizie istoriche degli Arcadi morti (Rome: De Rossi, 1720-21). A thematic catalog for Pasquini was listed as in preparation for the Wellesley Edition Cantata Index Series as late as 1997; it promised 100-150 items, but never materialized. The most recent research on him comes from a 2010 conference, proceedings published as Atti Pasquini Symposium: Convegno internazionale, Smarano, 27-30 maggio 2010, ed. by Armando Carideo for the series Quaderni Trentino cultura, 17 (Trent: Giunta della Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Assessorato alla Cultura, Rapporti Europei e Cooperazione, 2012). At that conference, Alexandra Nigito presented a catalog of Pasquini's cantatas, laboriously compiled from scattered sources.

Now she has published sixty-one solo cantatas by Pasquini, most appearing in print for the first time, along with nine ensemble cantatas for two to five voices, and three solo Latin motets. Nigito has also given all of their texts in poetic form, as well as the texts of four cantatas whose music is lost. The latter includes the large-scale Colosso della costanza, offered in 1689 by the students or the Seminario Romano in praise of James II, after the Glorious Revolution had ousted him from the British throne. For the most part, however, Pasquini's cantatas are undated. They likely stretch from before and after his quarter-century production of oratorios and operas, from 1671/72 to 1694. Some have the tender lyricism of the midcentury Italian cantata; others display the repetitive rhythmic impetus of the later baroque.

Of the seventy-three edited works in Nigito's massive volume, only seven may be heard on current recordings, including a performance by Andreas Scholl of Navicella ove ten vai (Decca 470 630-2 [2003], CD) and one by Nigito herself--she is an accomplished keyboard performer--of the solo motet lam me ligastis (Tactus TC 631802 [1998], CD). They are both in the edition as nos. 70 and 68, but classed as doubtful attributions. Nigito served as artistic director and continuo player for the vividly effective "Passion" cantata with instruments Or che il ciel fra densi orrori (no. 56) released on Brilliant Classics (BRI 94225 [2012], CD). Only a handful of Pasquini's many oratorios are available on compact disc, and none of his dozen or more acknowledged operas (a study by Arnaldo Morelli, forthcoming, will show that the three-act pastoral, La forza d'amore, directed in 1987 by Fabio Maestri and released on compact disc by Bongiovanni [GB 2067-2, no date], is not the work by that title attributed to Pasquini). In contrast, recordings abound of his works for organ and harpsichord. Nigito's edition will help make up for Pasquini's absence in the singer's standard repertory of arie an-ache. He was overlooked by Alessandro Parisotti in the late nineteenth century (Arie antiche, 3 vols. [Milan: Ricordi, 188519001) and by every modern editor who subsequently pirated or arranged Parisotti's selections. Modern performances of single arias by Pasquini have usually been from editions by Felice Boghen issued in Rome and Milan between 1923 and 1930, but they contain several problems of authorship. For example, at least two of the arias in the 1923 volume are from theatrical works by Stradella; another is by Giovanni Legrenzi, and another is likely from a work by Alessandro Melani (Felice Boghen, ed., Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710) [Rome: Casa Editrice "Musica," 1923]). Nigito reveals that Boghen's first two arias belong to the same single cantata, Filli, at chiaro seren (no. 67), whose attribution to Pasquini is furthermore not reliable. Because Nigito does not cite modern editions, these kinds of errors go uncorrected.

The solo Italian cantatas include two for mezzo, one for tenor, six for bass, and forty-one for soprano voice with continuo ensemble, as well as one lengthy monologue La Didone (no. 59) for soprano with violins and continuo. Two of the bass cantatas likewise represent dramatic figures: the ancient Roman Germanicus (no. 45), and the ghost of Sari Suleiman pasha, who was executed in 1687 after the Ottoman Turks lost Buda to the European Holy League (no. 47). For the most part, however, Pasquini set poems in pastoral milieus, with unrequited and anxious shepherds obsessed with their Phyllises and Clorises. Compared to pastoral cantatas of earlier generations, however, Pasquini's music is remarkably well balanced and without the anguished contortions and exclamations of the 1640s or the cynical archness of the 1650s and 1660s and, of course, none of the big-chested heroics of a later age. Indeed Pasquini's cantatas are generally cheerful, or, if distraught at the opening, they will often taper to a close with a restorative thought. The words might be recycled from earlier pastoral poetry, but Pasquini's clear tonal harmonies, rolling triple meters, easy flourishes of sixteenth notes, and predictable, short recitatives, make his chamber cantatas more vehicles for stunning singers than experiments in musical expression. While the soprano tessitura could be called normal, flights to high [bb.sup.1], [b.sup.1], and even [c.sup.2], make an impression, like a sixteenth-note rise on the word "vendetta" (vengeance), or an eighth-note rise to [b.sup.1] on "piago" (did wound), followed by an octave drop. The arias in [??] are lyric, but never indulgent or drenched in grief. The arias in common time often require quick, aggressive diction on chains of eighth notes, or a voice capable of great inflection. Precision and verve can command more attention than the conventional emotion offered by the words. Many arias have two strophes, inviting ornamentation for the second. Particularly effective are the moments in which Pasquini exposes the singer without accompaniment, an effect that occurs in both arias and recitatives. A few cantatas have sectional returns, but only a few hint at the da capo conventions to come, including arias that open with so-called "motto" anticipations of the main theme. What marks Pasquini's music as of the later baroque is the importance of the continuo-bass line, whose melodic and rhythmic patterning seems clearly to call for a bowed instrument. (There are enough sixteenth notes to satisfy any cellist.) The bass is often in imitation and interplay with the voice, and at other times it provides a consistent series of walking basses or other progressive instrumental figures that anchor the voice.

Two of the longest works (over 1,000 measures) involve larger forces and named roles. The cantata Vaneggia chi crede (ca. 1672, no. 61) calls for an instrumental ensemble with treble-treble-mezzo-alto-bass cleffing, in addition to the continuo line. The characters Erminia (soprano), Amore (alto), Lisa (alto), and Fileno(bass) play out an episode from Tasso's epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata. The instruments have a sinfonia and several ritornellos, but they perform in ensemble with the singers only in two internal arias. The second is Di lieto concento (no. 60), written for one of the birthdays between 1680 and 1688 of Queen Maria Luisa of Spain. Scored for a concerti no ensemble (treble--treble--bass) against a concerto grosso (treble--treble--mezzo-soprano--bass) and five soloists representing Beauty (soprano), Pallas Athene (soprano), Apollo (soprano), Destiny (tenor), and Time (bass), it may well have been intended for an outdoor performance and presented as a public serenata.

The editing of the music itself appears to have only occasional errors due to oversight The score for Or che il ciel fra i densi orrori mentioned earlier (no. 56) does not include the naming of the soloists that Nigito has in her edition of the text. Both sources specifically say that the cantata is a due, but five different personifications--Earth, the Sea, Air, the Sun, and the Moon--behold and bewail the crucifixion of Christ. (It could effectively be sung by three different sopranos and two basses.) For all the cantatas, the figures in the continuo parts are as complete as the original sources allowed, and they do not present problems or puzzles. (The variants in the critical apparatus are printed in such small type, only the most studious will compare them.) Though the volume itself is too heavy and thick for practical use, the pages of the edition are clear and legible from a music stand; the text underlay and word hyphenation are done with care. Nigito's policy leans to less rather than more intervention with respect to modernizing punctuation (for example, repeated text phrases in arias are not separated by commas), a topic not mentioned in the editorial criteria. One small general defect was the adoption of the same font, size, and type style for all rubrics. Thus performance instructions such as In tempo and ardito look just like the descriptors "A 2," "Aria," "Ritornello," and "Lidia." The modernization of clefs, beams in the continuo line, accidentals, Italian orthography, and the like are spelled out in the editorial criteria and follow current practices. Pitch references number registers, but count the octave from "middle C" as register 3, not 4 as in another common pitch-naming system. [Middle C in Notes style is designated "c"; see the Notes style sheet at For discussion of this and other pitch-naming systems, see L. S. Lloyd and Richard Rasta11, "Pitch nomenclature," in Grove Music Online,, both sites accessed 15 May 2013--Ed.] The editorial criteria also state that the barring preserves what is in the sources. Surprisingly, the barring in the edition appears absolutely metrically regular. The absence of or 2 measures created by barlines (whatever the metric signature) would be unusual in midcentury scores. In the case of Ruscelletto amoroso (no. 30), its three sources had three different opening metric signatures, [??], [C.sub.4.sup.3] and [C.sub.2.sup.3] the edition opted for [C.sub.4.sup.3] (a change of time signature to C is missing in measure 11 on p. 185). What this means and how this choice affects the tempo relationships with the later arias in the same cantata that are in triple meters ([??] and [??]) are nowhere discussed. The rare instances of coloration (that is, black whole-and half-notes) could have been explained for modern performers, for example in Il girasole (no. 21, mm. 70-72) and A imprigionar del labro (no. 1, m. 85). Nigito's editorial procedure was to follow one source, letting the extensively detailed critical apparatus spell out the differences in the other sources. In several cases, she provides stemmatic diagrams of hypothetical relationships between the musical sources of a single cantata. All seventy-three musical and textual sources are described and inventoried in an appendix.

The introduction covers several topics in seventy-three pages. Although it includes a seven-page tabular account of Pasquini's life with a chronology of his works, several images that include payment records, portraits, and examples of manuscript folios, it is more philological than historical. Only two of the sources contained solely works by Pasquini: a manuscript now in the Yale Music Library (Misc. Ms. 278) and one in the Estense Library in Modena (Mus, G. 160). Nigito devotes a section to the former and another to the patronage of Francesco II d'Este and the Modenese sources. (Pasquini had sojourned in Modena in 1687, when two of his oratorios were performed.) This is followed by a presentation of the principal copyists, beginning with the most easily recognizable hand, that of Giovanni Antelli, who worked in Rome, a copyist who has been previously discussed by Jean Lionnet, Arnaldo Morelli, Alessio Ruffatti, Christine Jeanneret, and others involved in Roman source studies. Nigito introduces the family of composer-copyists Tarquinio, Flavio, and Francesco Antonio Lanciani, and illustrates the hands of Giovanni Pertica and Paolo Lisi, all Roman copyists known from a multitude of payment documents from the households of the Colonna, Pamphili, Borghese, and Ottoboni. She then sorts through the principal copyists she encountered in the Modenese music library of Francesco II d'Este (the source of five of the six cantatas for bass voice). Though largely descriptive, this part of the introduction is of most interest to specialists. The numerous facsimiles are highly useful for further research. Nothing similar to Nigito's discussion of late-seventeenth-century music copyists has been published since Owen Jander's presentation of the Stradella copyists in 1969, in volume 4 of the Wellesley Edition Cantata Index Series (Alessandro Stradella, 1644-1682 [Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College, 1969]). The introduction does not try to explain how and why the Pasquini sources are where they are and what their histories might tell us, which would be another study in itself.

Other sections of the introduction cover the poetic texts, musical instruments in the Borghese household between 1652 and 1683 (with eleven pages of archival documents), and a brief discussion of continuo practice in the second half of the seventeenth century in Rome. The latter is especially pertinent given Pasquini's lively bass lines and his authorship of a lost treatise of "Rules for playing the harpsichord or organ well." Nigito here focuses on the use of acciaccaturas and Pasquini's appearance as an exemplar in later treatises by Benedetto Marcello and Francesco Gasparini. She refrains from commenting on Pasquini's vocal style, or the kinds of voices that may have performed these cantatas.

The performer who embraces this volume will not find, oddly enough, a discussion of the cantatas themselves--either as a genre or in a survey of Pasquini's cantatas as a whole or an examination of a selected few. Neither is there any discussion of them, however brief, vis-a-vis the cantatas of Stradella, Agostini, or Legrenzi (all of whom he outlived), or with respect to his own oratorio or opera writing. Some comments on the cantatas might have been more useful to potential performers than the transcriptions of payment records for musical instruments and tuning, material that is better digested in summary. Within their scoring categories, the cantatas themselves and the corresponding critical apparatus are presented in alphabetical order, according to their text incipits. The order governing the description of the manuscript sources is not evident (Nigito begins with four volumes in I-Bc, followed by one in I-BAcp, then B-Bc; I-MOe sources are followed by I-Fc inventories, etc.).

Trained as a musician at conservatories in Bologna, Venice, Milan, and Basel, and as a scholar at Cremona and the University of Zurich, Alexandra Nigito brings an experienced performer's eye to what is needed on the page. What Pasquini needs now is performers, who will be well served by these cantatas, some of which are light and brief, others fluent, changeable and catchy: fun to sing and a pleasure to hear.


University of California, Irvine

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