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  • Cristóbal de Morales. Sources, Influences, Reception
  • Esperanza Rodríguez-García
Cristóbal de Morales. Sources, Influences, Reception. Ed. by Owen Rees and Bernadette Nelson. pp. lii + 426. Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music, 6. (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, £45. ISBN 1-84383-311-6.)

Any book on the music of Morales is welcome. This one—based on a conference at Oxford in 2003 to mark the 450th anniversary of his death—is a significant achievement and provides a much-needed impetus for the revision of this figure and his music.

The scope of the new book is far-reaching: it appraises the current state of different areas of research on Morales, proposes re-evaluations of known facts and works, puts forward new discoveries, and identifies areas that need further exploration. Needless to say, a book generated from a conference is limited to some extent in terms of both structure and content (readers should not expect a ‘Morales Companion’). But the editors have managed to create a balanced contribution. Despite the broad variety of outlooks and methodologies, the book tackles virtually all the musical genres of Morales’s work.

The book opens with introductory chapters by Owen Rees and Robert Stevenson (to whom it is dedicated); it closes with Martin Ham’s magisterial worklist. Owen Rees explores controversial aspects in Morales’s biography, such as the idea that he was a mature composer when he arrived in Rome in 1535 and the fallacy that his creative impulse was exhausted after his return in 1545. The well-documented periods in Rome contrast with the time spent in Spain (or elsewhere), which presents numerous lacunae. His output is also affected by this problem. Whereas Morales’s ‘Roman’ production is mostly printed, thus reasonably accessible, attributable, and datable, the ‘Spanish’ works are transmitted in manuscript and face greater problems of preservation, authorship, and dating.

Robert Stevenson’s enlightening ‘Landmark Contributions to Cristóbal de Morales Scholarship’ presents a broad panorama of work since 1953 (when a volume of Anuario Musical marked the 400th anniversary of his death). With his accustomed erudition and generosity, he dissects every sort of topic on Morales and, in some cases, he delves into a discussion. For instance, he rejects Alison Sanders McFarland’s hypothesis that the composer sometimes named ‘clericus hyspalensis’ might be the same person as the Cristóbal de Morales ‘presbyter toletanus’ living in Rome at the same time. Stevenson also casts doubt on John Milsom’s arguments against the attribution of Emendemus in melius to Morales. [End Page 271]

Martin Ham’s ‘Worklist’ needs to be read in conjunction with his chapter, ‘Morales: The Canon’. The pair constitutes a major contribution, and such a comprehensive assessment of Morales’s output has not previously been attempted. Many of the main problems of authorship derive from two prints published under Morales’s name. Although they are clearly anthologies, no other name is listed. They bear the same title, Moralis Hispani, et multorum eximiae artis virorum musica, and were issued in Venice by Scotto (RISM 15435) and Gardano (RISM 15469). Attributions to Morales in prints by Berg and Neuber (RISM 155410, 155512, 15569) are largely dependent on Scotto and Gardano. The assumption that most of the pieces should be by Morales has led to many works now being challenged as new attributions to other composers are discovered. One that has escaped Ham’s eye is Pastores dicite, published under Pierre Colin’s name in his Liber octo missarum (Lyon, 1541), as noted by Noel O’Regan in Early Music, 23 (1995), 511. Ham also mentions attribution problems within the Lamentations and lost works listed in the sixteenth-century inventories of Tarazona cathedral, and he proposes some possible additions to the canon. All this information is painstakingly displayed in the worklist. Every piece ever attributed to Morales is listed here, including misattributions, newly discovered pieces, and recent attributions. It is preceded by a concise commentary on every conflicting piece and followed by the musical incipits of the works not included in the Opera omnia.

Section I of the book deals with sources and liturgical traditions with a focus on...


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