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Reviewed by:
  • Madrigali e madrigaletti
  • Ruth I. Deford
Mogens Pedersøn . Madrigali e madrigaletti. Ed. Kitti Messina. Monumenta Musica Europea II/2. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2005. xxxiii + 214 pp. append. tbls. $125. ISBN: 2-503-51801-X.

Many critical editions of early music appeared during the twentieth century in series devoted to individual countries. It is fitting that the present century should [End Page 1202] give us the series Monumenta Musica Europea, which aims to cover the entire European continent with particular emphasis on areas neglected by the older national series. The present volume is the second in the Renaissance section of that series. Its content clearly merits the designation "European": Italian madrigals and madrigaletti by Mogens Pedersøn (Magno Petreo), a Danish composer who was trained in Italy and spent three years in England, where some of his madrigals were copied into a manuscript containing both English and continental works.

Pedersøn was born ca. 1583 and died in 1623. In 1599 the Danish king, Christian IV, sent him to Venice in the company of three compatriots to study for a year with the celebrated composer Giovanni Gabrieli. He returned to Venice for more extended study with Gabrieli during the years 1605-09. His first book of Italian madrigals for five voices (Venice, 1608) is a product of this second apprenticeship. He was appointed instrumentalist at the Danish court in 1603 and promoted to assistant director of music in 1618. He spent the years 1611-14 in the service of Christian IV's sister, Anne, the wife of King James I of England. The English sojourn led to the copying of ten pieces from his second book of five-voice madrigals (1611) into the manuscript British Library, Egerton 3665, an enormous collection once thought to have been copied by Francis Tregian "the younger." The Egerton manuscript is the only surviving source of music from Pedersøn's second madrigal book. Apart from madrigals, the composer's works include two madrigaletti in a collection by Hans Brachrogge (Copenhagen, 1619), a large collection of sacred music entitled Pratum spirituale (Copenhagen, 1620), and two incomplete pavans in another English manuscript.

Pedersøn's madrigals are skillfully composed in the style of the time, but less adventurous than the avant-garde madrigals by composers such as Luca Marenzio, Carlo Gesualdo, and Claudio Monteverdi. Their texts are of the simple, lighthearted variety that was fashionable in the 1580s and 1590s. All of the texts are in the form of free madrigals; several are modified versions of strophic canzonettas. Most are anonymous, but five are by Giovanni Battista Guarini, two by Livio Celiano (Angelo Grillo), and one by Ercole Cavalletto. The music features the kinds of word painting (such as melismas for singing, rests for sighs, and dissonances for pain and suffering) that were standard at the time. Written-out vocal ornaments and occasional liberties in the treatment of dissonance distinguish the music from works published a decade earlier, but they are not nearly as extreme as those in Monteverdi's fourth and fifth madrigal books (published in 1603 and 1605, respectively), which Pedersøn certainly knew.

The present edition includes all of Pedersøn's madrigals and madrigaletti and nine works by other composers based on texts set by Pedersøn: two madrigals by Hans Nielsen (Giovanni Fonteiio), one madrigaletto by Francesco di Gregorii, and six canzonettas, called "fioretti" in the sources, by Amante Franzoni. The editorial introduction, in English and Italian, contains information about music at the court of Christian IV, Pedersøn's life and works, a list of all known settings of the Italian texts set by Pedersøn, and comparisons of Pedersøn's settings with the other settings in the edition. The critical commentary includes information about [End Page 1203] sources, editorial policies, and textual emendations. The editor has adopted the unconventional (thus, potentially confusing) policy of making editorial accidentals valid throughout the measure in which they occur, rather than applying them only to individual notes. The poetic texts are edited separately. They are accompanied by metric analyses and brief comments, but not translations.

Pedersøn's first madrigal book was edited by Knud Jeppesen (Dania sonans, Samfundet til...


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