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Reviewed by:
  • Christian Thomas Leitmeir
Cipriano de Rore: New Perspectives on his Life and Music. Ed. by Jessie Ann Owens and Katelijne Schiltz. Pp. 507. Epitome Musical. (Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, 2016. €80. ISBN 978-2-503-56777-8.)

Cipriano de Rore belongs to the rare (or perhaps not so rare) group of sixteenth-century composers whose extraordinary fame, both contemporary and posthumous, is matched by an equally outstanding neglect by researchers. For want of an authoritative biography, a catalogue raisonéand even a critical edition of his music (no critical apparatus is provided in Bernhard Meier's edition in Corpus mensurabilis musicae), Rore scholarship has long been doomed to be the sole domain of a few individuals. This publication marks a decisive step towards overcoming these impediments. Assembling the cream of current Rore experts and prompting others to explore his life and works, Jessie Ann Owens (a household name in Rore scholarship) and Katelijne Schiltz have put together a pioneering volume that is equally informative and inspiring. As the title promises, the volume offers 'new perspectives' on Rore's biography, his sources and repertory, analytical approaches to his music, and his place in early twentieth-century scholarship.

Bonnie Blackburn once more lives up to her reputation as the supreme sleuth of early modern music history. She not only skilfully extracts new information from well-known primary sources, but also digs out significant new material from Italian archives. She sheds fascinating new light on Rore's early Italian career prior to his employment as maestro di cappellaat Ferrara (1546), which had long been shrouded in mystery. With all due caution, Blackburn employs circumstantial evidence to draw the contours of a network of patrons and fellow musicians within which Rore moved as an enterprising freelancer in Brescia. They include Count Fortunato Martinengo Cesaresco, famous through his portrait in the National Gallery, and the fine composers Palazzo da [End Page 107]Fano and Nolet (exemplified with one composition each in the appendix).

Laurie Stras elucidates Rore's musical relationships with two ladies from the Este household. Right at the outset of his tenure in Ferrara, Rore became involved in the complex wedding negotiations for the daughters of Duke Ercole II: his motet Hesperiae cum laeta(in praise of Anna d'Este's portrait as Venus) may have been sent with the latter to the intended spouse, the last Jagiellonian King Sigismund Augustus of Poland. Rore also contributed music to the tragedy Selene, performed during the festivities of Anna's eventual betrothal with the Duc d'Aumale. Other works, such as his settings of Ariosto, may well have been written to showcase the singing abilities of the Duke's daughters, Anna and Lucrezia. As Stras suggests, some madrigals in Rore's second book for four voices demonstrate that the composer took sides with Ercole's estranged wife Renée.

While Stras offers a sneak preview of her forthcoming monograph on Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara, Franco Piperno develops further ideas from his 2001 book on Guidubaldo II della Rovere. Rore maintained links with the Duke of Urbino throughout his professional career, as is demonstrated in many works written for his patron. As Piperno argues, Rore also played an influential role in shaping the musical life at the ducal court.

The triad of illuminating biographical chapters is followed by studies of sources and repertory. Kate van Orden addresses a tantalizing anomaly of Rore's early printed works: his collection of 'madrigali chromatici' of 1544 is an outlier both with respect to Rore's own oeuvre and—as five-part settings of predominantly Petrarchan sonnets—to the style of contemporary black-note madrigals. Whereas works such as Per mezz' i boschiare traditionally seen to anticipate much later developments in madrigal composition, van Orden reveals instead their indebtedness to Janequin's chansons.

Inspired by his earlier work on the organization of Monteverdi's fifth book of madrigals, Massimo Ossi eludicates the neat programmatic arrangement in Rore's first book of fivepart madrigals (1542) according to poetic and literary parameters. While substantial changes in later reprints may seem to obscure Rore's masterplan, Ossi appreciates the individual publishers' approaches to (re-)organizing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1477-4631
Print ISSN
0027-4224
Pages
pp. 107-110
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-05
Open Access
No
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