Notes 60.1 (2003) 272-274
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Melchior Franck. Paradisus Musicus. Edited by Martin P. Setchell. (Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, 106.) Madison, WI: A-R Editions, c2000. [Acknowledgments, p. viii; introd., p. ix-xii; texts and trans., p. xiii-xxii; 7 plates; part 1: title page in Ger., Eng. and honorific poem in Lat., Eng., p. 2-6; score, p. 7-88; part 2: title page in Ger., Eng. and onomastic epigrams in Lat., Eng., p. 90-92; score, p. 93-288; crit. report, p. 289-90. ISBN 0-89579-464-0. $100.]
Martin P. Setchell's edition of Melchior Franck's two-part Paradisus musicus (Coburg: Johann Eyrich; Nuremberg: Wolfgang Endter, 1636) is the third volume devoted to this composer in the series Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era (Geistliche Gesäng und Melodeyen, ed. William Weinert, vol. 70 ; Dulces mundani exilij deliciae, ed. Randall Craig Sheets, vol. 80 ). This may seem surprising, especially considering Franck's relative obscurity even in musicological circles. Franck nonetheless ranks along side Samuel Scheidt, Johann Hermann Schein, and Heinrich Schütz as one of the most important—not to mention one of the most prolific—composers of Lutheran sacred music, and this volume is a welcome addition to our still woefully limited modern library of sacred music composed north of the Alps during the seventeenth century. The Paradisus musicus, moreover, is a fascinating work in itself; not only was it the last publication issued by Franck in his lifetime (he died in [End Page 272] 1639), but it also consists entirely of motets setting verses from nearly every chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah, carefully selected and sequentially arranged by the composer.
Setchell's edition generally conforms to our expectations of the volumes published in the Recent Researches series as resources of high quality and reliable scholarship. The music is clearly printed and well laid out, with very few errors; any harmonic or melodic oddities in the edition are easily fixable by performers on the first run-through. Setchell does not employ any unusual or confusing editorial methods, and his insertions are clearly differentiated in the score from the original material. This is especially true of the figured bass: although Setchell is perhaps a bit heavy-handed with the profusion of additional figures, his bracketed additions are nonetheless easily distinguishable from Franck's own figures. Scholars will surely appreciate the appearance of incipits (with original clefs, signatures, and first notes) at the opening of each work, as well as Setchell's concise and clear critical notes. These notes are an essential supplement to the editorial changes: by consulting them, I located two passages (No. 4, m. 2, and No. 49, mm. 4-5) where by suppressing a figure instead of adding accidentals to a vocal part, Setchell has created somewhat awkward harmonic passages.
Other general features of the edition are excellent. Setchell provides seven high-quality facsimile reproductions from the original publication, including a full facsimile of the dedication to part one. The complete texts and translations of all sixty-six motets are clearly presented, though I do wonder why editors insist on providing "translations" of the Lutheran Bible from the English King James Version, which can unnecessarily muddle the language and sometimes change the meaning of the German entirely (in No. 47, for instance, the clause sol mir kein Mensch abbitten is rendered "I will not meet thee as a man" rather than "no man shall beg forgiveness from me"). Also very helpful are the accurate and idiomatic side-by-side translations of all additional textual matter in the original, from the German dedications to the Latin laudatory poems, with footnotes astutely pointing out the many puns. (A look at Setchell's acknowledgments, however, indicates that these translations are not his own but are the contributions of colleagues Mary McMorran and Alison Holcroft.)
All these features make the edition a joy to use and a valuable resource for scholars. Yet as part of the Recent Researches series, we would also expect to find in this volume a trenchant...