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Notes 60.1 (2003) 275-277

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Gaspar Sanz. The Complete Guitar Works: A Transcription and Translation of the Complete Music and Text in Sanz's Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española (Zaragoza, 1674/5 & 1697). Transcribed and edited for classical guitar by Robert Strizich. Saint-Nicolas, Quebec: Les Éditions Doberman-Yppan, c1999. [Frontispiece, 1 p.; editor's note, acknowledgments, pref., p. 2-13; suggestions for interpretation, p. 14-15; facsim. reprod. of title page, p. 16; transcription, p. 17-156; editorial modifications to the music, p. 157-69. Cloth-bound spiral. ISBN 2-89503-030-8; DO 250. $69.50.]

Handsomely and legibly printed in a large format, and hardbound with a square spine, this new transcription of the complete guitar works of Gaspar Sanz has much to recommend it. Robert Strizich, the volume's editor, is an authority on Sanz and on this type of baroque guitar repertory and is the author of the Sanz entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In the works list of that entry is a reference to this very edition as "forthcoming," and some twenty years later the author has made good on that promise (although curiously, no mention of this edition, in progress or complete, appears in Strizich's Sanz article for the second edition of the dictionary published in 2001). Today's classical guitarists should be pleased with Strizich's thoughtful and musically coherent adaptation of Sanz's baroque guitar tablatures for six-string guitar, even if musicologists may still be left wondering about some minor oversights in a generally excellent scholarly edition.

My first questions about this edition were bibliographical rather than musical. Strizich writes (p. 12) that he "consulted microfilms and/or facsimiles of several extant copies of Sanz' Instrucción de música" and identifies five of them—four in Spain and one in London. I wonder if there were any variant readings between them, or were all five identical? How representative of the eight presumed editions of the Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española y método de sus primeros rudimentos hasto tañerla con destreza published between 1674 and 1697 were these five consulted sources? And did Strizich regard a particular edition or state of the engraved tablature plates as authoritative?

Those consulting this edition may wonder, too, how it fits into the sequence of modern facsimiles and transcriptions of the corpus in question. There have been quite a few Sanz editions already published. It is too easy to dismiss them with the words "many of the long-available editions of baroque guitar music are based on outmoded concepts of 'transcription,' and are, in fact, 'arrangements' and not true transcriptions" (p. 2). Strizich continues, "such editions do not faithfully represent the original tablatures and therefore are no longer acceptable by current standards of scholarship. Fortunately there is an increasing number of reliable editions of old guitar music which do set forth accurate and undistorted transcriptions; this present edition is intended to be a contribution to this growing body of work." But if the present edition provides only a modern transcription, and not the original tablature, and if that transcription revoices lines (which it does) to take advantage of the low E, A, and D strings on the classical guitar, then arguably some users will still feel the need to consult the original tablature. Since it is not provided by Strizich, readers may find it helpful to review some of the facsimiles of Sanz's Instrucción de música issued in recent decades.

Perhaps the most widely circulated facsimile reprint of Sanz's three books of guitar music (bound and sold as one) is that prepared by Luis García-Abrines, which has been through several printings since the early fifties (Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española: Reproducción en facsímil de los libros primero y segundo de la tercera edición...


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