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  • The Rosary Cantoral: Ritual and Social Design in a Chantbook from Early Renaissance Toledo
  • Michael B. O'Connor
Lorenzo F. Candelaria . The Rosary Cantoral: Ritual and Social Design in a Chantbook from Early Renaissance Toledo. Eastman Studies in Music. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2008. x + 212 pp. index. append. illus. bibl. $55. ISBN: 978-1-58046-205-1.

Studies of post-medieval chant sources are still relatively few in number, but a great deal can be learned about the process of chant transmission and performance practice from these neglected sources. In the case of the manuscript at the heart of Lorenzo Candelaria's The Rosary Cantoral, some fascinating contextual issues that extend beyond purely musical considerations are revealed through the extraordinary diligence of the author. The subject of the study, Beinecke Library, Ms. 710, is a huge (96 x 62 cm) and elaborately decorated chant choirbook, or libro de cantoral, that preserves twenty-two troped parts of the Mass Ordinary and two fragments of Renaissance polyphony, including the "Et incarnatus est" of Josquin's Missa sine nomine and an unidentified Spanish setting of the same based on the L'homme armé tune.

The late fifteenth-century, Toledan provenance of the Beinecke Kyriale has been convincingly determined by Candelaria through his impressive interdisciplinary approach that took into consideration the iconography, paleography, the history of the work's ownership, and the connection to several related individual leaves from other liturgical books held by the Beinecke and the Pierpont Morgan Library. This interdisciplinary method has been popular in recent decades, but few studies have been more compelling in describing the search for a source's origins and function than this author's study of "The Rosary Cantoral." The subject grew out of Candelaria's 2001 musicology dissertation, but his findings reveal that he is equally at home when dealing with the finer points of art history or the sometimes murky nature of the antiquities market.

Candelaria's designation of the manuscript as "The Rosary Cantoral" derives from a web of iconographical evidence that centers on a vignette portraying the Virgin with Child flanked by two men, one in prayer before the Virgin and an armed man standing to the side. The illustration appears on a number of the large illuminated letters, but the lack of noble heraldry in the manuscript prompted Candelaria to reject the idea that these men represented donors. A closer inspection reveals that the Virgin is weaving a garland of roses and that the man in prayer has such a garland on his head. The author concludes that the vignette represents the "Miracle of the Gentleman of Cologne," a late fifteenth-century legend tied to powers of the rosary devotion. Armed with this initial data, Candaleria sets off on an exploration of the rosary legend, a tenuous lead regarding a monastery in Toledo, and the connections between the Five Wounds of Christ, Hercules, Albrecht Dürer's Meerwunder, and Arthur Rau, a Parisian rare books dealer. Candelaria's description of the quest vividly captures the excitement and frustrations experienced by researchers in all fields as he expertly examines the evidence, provides context —occasionally a little too much —and crafts a story that rivals good detective fiction. It even has a surprise at the end that involves the dark halls of the Spanish Inquisition. [End Page 1334]

Answers to the questions of provenance were necessary in order to begin an informed study of the musical contents, but, as every researcher knows, sometimes the preliminaries overtake the original mission. As a result, the music takes a bit of a backseat to the fascinating story of the manuscript's origin. The author posits that the unusually late example of a troped Kyriale has connections to the rosary devotion. He reads the tropes as musical garlands of roses that parallel the blessing presented by the Virgin to the penitent man of the legend. For chant scholars the author's identification of concordances for the tropes, nine of which are found only in Spanish sources, is a valuable contribution.

Fortunately for the readers of Candelaria's book, the author was not only equal to the task of sifting through iconographical, paleographical, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-0236
Print ISSN
0034-4338
Pages
pp. 1334-1335
Launched on MUSE
2008-12-24
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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