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William Byrd.

William Byrd. Domine, tu jurasti. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 56.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10-11. $4.95.]

William Byrd. Vide, Domine, afflictionem. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 60.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 12 p.; editorial commentary, p. 13-14. $5.95.]

Clemens (non Papa). Angelus Domini. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 50.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10. $3.95.]

Clemens (non Papa). Conserva me, Domine. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 38.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10. $3.95.]

Clemens (non Papa). Vox clamantis in deserto. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 52.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10-11. $4.95.]

Loyset Compere. Crux triumphans. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 2.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, [1999], c1998. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 9-10. $4.95.]

Pierre de la Rue. Ave regina caelorum. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 35.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 6 p.; editorial commentary, p. 7. $3.95.]

Guillaume Dufay, attr. Salve regina. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 29.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 10 p.; editorial commentary, p. 11-12. $4.95.]

Nicolas Gombert. Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. 2d ed. revised. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 22.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2004, 1999. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10-11. $4.95.]

Nicolas Gombert. O domina mundi. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 59.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10-11. $4.95.]

Heinrich Isaac. Regina caeli laetare. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 20.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 13 p.; editorial commentary, p. 14-15. $5.95.]

Jacquet of Mantua. Aspice Domini. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 55.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 10 p.; editorial commentary, p. 11-12. $4.95.]

Josquin Desprez or Pierre de la Rue. Absalon fili mi. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. 2d ed. revised. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 8.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001, 1999. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6-7. $3.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 3.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1998. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10-12. $4.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. 2d ed. revised. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 3.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2003, 1998. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 9-11. $4.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Ave verum corpus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 1.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1998. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6-7. $3.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Ave verum corpus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. 2d ed. revised. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 1.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, [2003], c1998. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6-7. $3.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Illibata Dei virgo nutrix. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 9.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 15 p.; editorial commentary, p. 16-19. $8.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Inviolata, integra et casta es Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 42.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 14 p.; editorial commentary, p. 15-16. $5.95.]

Josquin Desprez. Missus est Gabriel angelus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. 2d ed. revised. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 15.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001, 1999. [Score, 6 p.; editorial commentary, p. 7-8. $3.95.]

Orlande de Lassus. Gustate et videte. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 57.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 11 p.; editorial commentary, p. 12. $4.95.]

Orlande de Lassus. Jersusalem plantabis vineam. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 51.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 10 p.; editorial commentary, p. 11. $4.95.]

Orlande de Lassus. Tribus miraculis. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 53.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 9. $3.95.]

Orlande de Lassus. Verbum caro factum est. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 49.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

Philippe de Monte. Lux perpetual lucebit sanctis tuis. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 30.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

Cristobal de Morales. In illo tempore: assumpsit Jesus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 44.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

Jean Mouton. Nesciens mater. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 24.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 9-10. $3.95.]

Jean Mouton. Queramus cum pastoribus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 48.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 9-10. $3.95.]

Jacob Obrecht. Beata es Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 16.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 9-10. $3.95.]

Johannes Ockeghem. Alma Redemptoris mater. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 26.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8-9. $3.95.]

Johannes Ockeghem. Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 4.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1998. [Score, 4 p.; editorial commentary, p. 5-6. $2.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 18.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 6 p.; editorial commentary, p. 5-6. $2.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Caro mea. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 27.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Coenantibus illis. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 43.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Ego sum panis vivus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 58.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2002. [Score, 15 p.; editorial commentary, p. 16. $5.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Exaltabo te. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 45.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Haec dies. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 12.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 6 p.; editorial commentary, p. 7. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. O beata et benedicta et gloriosa Trinitas. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 23.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 15 p.; editorial commentary, p. 16. $5.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. O bone Jesu. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 10.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 6 p.; editorial commentary, p. 7. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. O sacrum convivium. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 6.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1998. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Peccantem me quotidie. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 11.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

G. P. da Palestrina. Tantum ergo Sacramentum. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 33.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

Johannes Regis. Haec dies. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 14.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 4 p.; editorial commentary, p. 5-6. $2.95.]

John Sheppard. Haec dies. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 25.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

Thomas Tallis. Candidi facti sunt. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 19.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

Thomas Tallis. In jejunio et fletu. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 46.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

Thomas Tallis. Salvator mundi (II). Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 5.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1998. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

John Taverner. Dum transisset sabbatum (I). Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 34.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 7 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

Tomas Luis de Victoria. Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 21.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10. $3.95.]

Tomas Luis de Victoria. Ecce Dominus veniet. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 47.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 11 p.; editorial commentary, p. 12. $4.95.]

Tomas Luis de Victoria. O sacrum convivium! Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 37.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 9 p.; editorial commentary, p. 10. $3.95.]

Tomas Luis de Victoria. Vidi aquam. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 17.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c1999. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

Adrian Willaert. Ecce lignum crucis / Crux fidelis. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 39.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2001. [Score, 14 p.; editorial commentary, p. 15-16. $5.95.]

Adrian Willaert. O magnum mysterium / Ave Maria. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 13.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, 2001, c1999. [Score, 8 p.; editorial commentary, p. 8. $3.95.]

Adrian Willaert. Videns Dominus. Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. (Notre Dame Choir Editions, 36.) New York: NDC Editions; C. F. Peters Corp., sole selling agent, c2000. [Score, 5 p.; editorial commentary, p. 6. $2.95.]

For those interested in performing early music with choral ensembles, the recent publication of the series Notre Dame Choir Editions (henceforth NDCE) is welcome indeed. Since the first title appeared in 1998, some sixty small-scale works have been published under the NDCE banner, all edited by Ralph Buxton. Fifty-three of these compositions are by Renaissance composers ranging from Guillaume Du Fay to Tomas Luis de Victoria; it is these that are the focus of this review. The remaining seven titles--five pieces by Buxton, one by David Schofield (the series general editor), and a single set of three Passiontide chorales harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach--are anomalous historically and stylistically, and thus are omitted from the discussion here.

What is the intended coverage of this series? When I initially read through the varied list of Continental and English pieces published thus far, I thought it might have evolved from past performances by a conductor who, for lack of usable alternatives, made new editions of the repertoire he wanted his ensemble to sing. A look at the publication's Web site (www.ndceditions.com [accessed 24 November 2004]) seems to confirm this hunch. Both Buxton and Schofield have backgrounds in choral music--Buxton as a composer and a student of early music at the New England Conservatory and Columbia University; and Schofield as an active organist and conductor, whose various ensembles have performed many of the titles published in the series.

According to the Web site, Buxton and Schofield launched this series "to furnish choral singers with reliable, reasonably priced editions of significant and attractive a cappella motets and other works drawn from the lesser-known areas of the sacred repertory ... [that] have not been published before, or have appeared in editions that are relatively inaccessible, cost prohibitive or difficult for modern performers to use." Indeed, with few exceptions, reliable editions of historical classical art music are not easy to come by in the United States as sheet music businesses increasingly cater to current popular trends: music for show choirs, "a cappella" vocal ensembles (in the non-classical, twenty-first-century sense), pop groups, and so on. Once, a conductor could go to almost any good shop and browse through bin after bin filled with all sorts of choral music, from pop and contemporary classical, to plentiful stacks of secular and sacred art music from all the historical periods. Not now. Many sheet-music stores have severely reduced their in-stock holdings, relying instead on online databases to advertise their wares.

This trend has had two principal yet unfortunate consequences. First, the titles available for store browsing are a comparatively small number that, in too many cases, fail to challenge singers (and their audiences) intellectually and artistically; hardly any of this music is from the Renaissance or earlier. Thus hands-on browsing of the sort that feeds conductors with new ideas for classical repertoire is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The second problem lies with the growing number of sheet-music businesses that force customers to rely on Internet databases rather than in-store stock when looking for music. Sadly, most of these databases seriously lack the kind of information one needs to purchase music, let alone browse for new ideas. Too often the basic description included for a work is hopelessly inaccurate, inconsistent between entries, or simply omitted altogether, to the point that some search results are laughable. And although some sites have PDF images available for contemporary works, rarely do they provide such images for early-music titles. This is a significant problem where medieval and Renaissance music is concerned because there are so many notational variables that performers need to know before choosing which version to purchase. In this climate of inaccessibility, then, I can only be pleased to see even this small number of Renaissance pieces made more easily and reliably available by Notre Dame Choir Editions. (A page or two of each title can be viewed on the NDCE Web site.)

From a choral conductor's and musicologist's perspective, these scores include many positive features. First some thoughts about them as a group. Overall, they are a handsome lot. Ranging in price from $2.95 to $5.95 a title--only one, Josquin Desprez's Illibata Dei virgo nutrix (NDCE 9) is priced unreasonably at $8.95--they are certainly not inexpensive, but they are competitively priced in the market of good editions of similar repertoire, which is almost exclusively the domain of foreign publishers. (There are cheaper early-music editions by American publishers, but their editorial practices are often suspect.) The typography is sharp and large enough--the physical dimensions are 8.5" X 11"--to make the music extremely easy to read. In only one case, Jean Mouton's eight-voice Nesciens mater (NDCE 24), did the top and bottom staves seem a little too close together. (In another eight-part work, Victoria's Ave Maria (NDCE 21), Buxton solved this problem by reducing the point size of the edition slightly to allow for more room between systems.) Only one score showed even the slightest sign of poor reproduction quality: Du Fay's Salve regina (NDCE 29).

Buxton's approach for each title in terms of content and editorial comments seems fairly consistent throughout the series. Each score has modern clefs and time signatures (after a prefatory bar that shows the original clef and initial note as they appear in the principal source), reduced note values (where appropriate), and regular barring, making these scores practical for use by specialists and nonspecialists alike. Ligatures and coloration are not noted. Buxton adds easy-to-spot measure numbers enclosed in boxes that appear at the beginning of each system. With the exception of a few breath marks inserted in relatively obvious places (before the final amen in Josquin's Ave Maria [NDCE 3], for example), and slurs added to the chant-bearing tenor voice in John Taverner's first setting of Dum transisset sabbatum (NDCE 34), Buxton adds no other interpretative markings. He makes sensible tempo suggestions in his editorial commentaries at the end of each score, but he is careful to note that acoustics and ensemble size might suggest other options.

Text underlay is generally sound throughout the series, although there are plenty of instances where more experienced performers may want to quibble. In Josquin's Ave Maria (NDCE 3), for example, Buxton's initial decision to follow his principal source's apparent religious placement of the penultimate syllable on the third to last note of each phrase rather than on the penultimate one seems awkward for Continental music of this period. Buxton changed this quirky underlay in the second revised edition of the piece published in late 2003, noting: "For this revised edition, the text underlay was reviewed and a number of changes in syllable placement introduced" (p. 11). Other underlay ideas were adjusted in response to hearing the work "in the context of rehearsals and performances" (Loyset Compere's Crux triumphans, NDCE 2, p. 10, for example; similar statements appear in the other editions). While some of these adjusted underlays appear in italics (according to conventional editorial practice), those that match any one of the secondary sources Buxton consulted are not, nor are they noted in the list of variant readings, so performers wishing to make other choices cannot do so as intelligently as they might otherwise.

Buxton abandons convention when it comes to musica ficta and other editorial accidentals. Instead of placing these marks above the staff, he opts to put them "in small type in front of the notes to which they refer" (e.g., Heinrich Isaac, Regina caeli laetare [NDCE 20], p. 15). Unfortunately, the smaller type is difficult to discern, so these signs end up looking just like notated accidentals rather than ones added or suggested by the editor. In many cases this sizing is not especially problematic, but I do wonder why placing them above the score was not an acceptable choice.

Buxton frequently transposes the music from the original pitch level to accommodate performances for mixed-voice choirs. I endorse this approach from a practicing musician's point of view, and overall his transposition choices are good ones. In eight titles, though, he selected awkward keys requiring anachronistic signatures of four and five flats, which look a little odd for this repertoire (and in my experience, transpositions that use G[??]s are also terribly difficult to sing in tune). Perhaps the least successful of these transposed works is Nicholas Gombert's O domina mundi (NDCE 59), which Buxton moves up a perfect fifth instead of leaving it as a low-voice piece (ATTB) and transposing it up the more practical distance of a major third. It is hard to explain this decision and others like it, especially when transposing one half-step more or less than he did would have been more sensible, and in some cases would provide for a more successful result in performance.

A number of titles are antiphons or responsories requiring plainchant passages not included in their original sources; Buxton provides these chants, along with directions where to insert them within the polyphony. In most cases, his directions are clear and accurate, but in several editions they are a bit confusing or inspire curiosity. Thomas Tallis's Candidi facti sunt (NDCE 19), for example, includes repeat signs that could easily lead to an extra (and inaccurate) repetition of mm. 31-48 before moving on to the first of two plainchant phrases. In another case, Victoria's Vidi aquam (NDCE 17) includes the rubric "Vidi aquam ut supra," placed rather unusually after the concluding polyphonic doxology rather than before it; some explanation here would have been useful. (Felipe Pedrell's edition in volume 7 of the old Victoria Opera omnia [Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1911; reprint, Ridgewood, NJ: Gregg Press, 1966] shows the same rubric in the same place on page 134, also without explanation.)

Each commentary includes a brief introductory paragraph on the composer, followed by a sentence or two about the specific work. Only seventeen editions do not include at least brief observations about the individual piece; mysteriously, ten of the eleven works by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina omit such information, as do three of the four Victoria pieces. The commentaries, as with the scores themselves, appear to be remarkably devoid of typographical errors: I noted less than a dozen in the set I reviewed, and only one that was egregious.

The information provided in these commentaries is basic but functional, and is especially valuable for directors and performers who are not early-music experts. Texts and functional translations, set in side-by-side columns, precede a list of manuscript sources and (where appropriate) modern editions consulted, usually the standard complete edition or a historical monument in which the piece is published. Buxton was selective with the manuscripts he consulted, often choosing to base his edition only on a single source; occasionally, he overlooked a standard modern edition as well. None of these oversights takes away from the basic practicality of these scores, but for those who prefer a text that considers all extant sources, one should not expect to find this type of approach in these editions.

As a historian, I am thrilled Buxton uses the appropriate terminology in his editorial comments: ligature, musica ficta, coloration, and so on. But if an intended goal of this series (or even an incidental one) is to make these scores available to a wide audience of potential performers--church choirs, collegiate ensembles, even ambitious senior high school choirs could handle much of this music if encouraged to do so by performer-friendly editions--using such technical language without including an explanation of it runs the risk of putting off conductors whose experience with early music is limited. I am not suggesting that Buxton should have dumbed down his language. But a link to a page on the NDCE's Web site explaining this terminology, perhaps even offering an introductory essay on early-music performance issues, would have been helpful and encouraging.

A few other minor issues should be mentioned. Inaccuracies occasionally crop up in Buxton's comments. The Salve regina attributed to Du Fay (NDCE 29) is not for four equal voices literally, for example, and it is hard to agree completely with Buxton's observation that Johannes Ockeghem's Alma redemptoris mater (NDCE 26) portrays "almost a complete absence of imitation or other obvious melodic patterning" (p. 8). It is curious, too, that Buxton calls for male-voice support for the alto line in his second revised edition of Josquin's Ave verum corpus (but not in the first edition) because the alto part "requires some agility in the register below middle C" (p. 7). The part in question is not especially low, sitting mainly in the B-[c.sup.1] range, and it only descends to G in a single repeated phrase that is not especially active. Admittedly, the first of these repeated phrases appears in a soprano-alto duet passage with the G sounding a full octave below the soprano for several beats. Still, in my experience this really is not too low for female voices, and while volume balance might be an issue here, agility really is not. Comments such as these are relatively infrequent, however, and they do not take away from the scores' serviceability as performance editions.

For a series that seems to want to encourage the performance of this repertoire, several practical issues raise two additional concerns for me. The lack of staples or any other binding material in fifteen of the scores is impractical. It is a critical oversight in those scores in which, thanks to a layout decision that seems to disallow any printing on the inside front or back covers, the middle page is a loose sheet that cannot be secured in any kind of performance folder except a ring binder. How this decision for cost (I guess) was able to trump fundamental practicality is beyond reason, especially when a simple solution--allow printing on the inside front or back cover--was at hand. Instead, the middle sheets in these scores are left unattached, waiting to fly out of the score and onto the floor the instant a singer forgets to hold on tight.

Another disappointment from an academic conductor's perspective is the absence of a keyboard reduction for rehearsal purposes. In an age when rehearsal accompanists and individual performers are frequently unable to play from open score, this decision is regrettable, especially since music notation software makes creating a reduction relatively simple. Cost may again have been a factor when Buxton decided not to include reductions, as adding them may have increased the overall page count, making the scores more expensive to produce. Yet the decision not to include reductions missed an easy opportunity to make these titles more attractive, more useable for high school ensembles, as well as for collegiate choirs, where students often run sectionals--on such occasions, reductions are invaluable.

Perhaps part of the overall problem here is that Buxton cannot seem to decide whether he is making a practical performance edition that is attractive both to those without much early-music experience as well as to those whose experience is extensive, or simply a scholarly edition meant only for specialists. This is not to say that these scores cannot be used by inexpert performers. Rather, it is to suggest that the scores could have been made so much more attractive with just a little more attention to the needs of the nonspecialist. It is simply a missed opportunity.

Overall, then, this is a worthy series, one that makes individual titles by Jacob Obrecht, Clemens non Papa, Heinrich Isaac, Thomas Tallis, Adrian Willaert, Orlando di Lasso, William Byrd, and several other Renaissance composers accessible, some for the first time. I hope the series will continue to add to its list of titles, and I would happily encourage their use.

DONNA M. DI GRAZIA

Pomona College
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Author:Di Grazia, Donna M.
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Date:Mar 1, 2005
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