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Reviewed by:
  • Ercole Pasquini, Toccate, Canzoni, Ricercari ed. by Paul Kenyon
  • Andrew Woolley
Ercole Pasquini, Toccate, Canzoni, Ricercari. Edited by Paul Kenyon (Monumenti musicali italiani, vol. 30.) (Ercole Pasquini, Opere complete, I.) Milan: Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, 2015. [lix, score, p. 1–64. ISMN 979-0-2156-1719-3. €90]

Ercole Pasquini, an elder contemporary of Monteverdi who died before 1620, is an important but shadowy figure, whose three motets, two madrigals, and over thirty keyboard pieces are all that survive of his music. He is considered a 'formative influence' on Girolamo Frescobaldi (p. xxxiii), his successor as organist of the Cappella Giulia in St Peter's, Rome (after the temporary, five-month appointment of Alessandro Costantini). The literature on the composer's keyboard music, stimulated by a pioneering edition by W. Richard Shindle, published in the 1960s (Ercole Pasquini, Collected Keyboard Works, ed. W. Richard Shindle [Corpus of early keyboard music, 12; N.p.: American Institute of Musi cology, 1966]), has drawn attention to how his techniques anticipate Frescobaldi's (cited partially on p. xxxiv, and by Anthony Newcomb, "Frescobaldi's Toccatas and their Stylistic Ancestry", Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association 111 [1984–1985]: 28–44). The keyboard pieces range from toccatas, those in contrapuntal genres such as canzonas and ricercares, to dances, some with divisions. Their principal sources can be consulted in facsimile in the series 17th Century Keyboard Music. Sources Central to the Keyboard Art of the Baroque (New York: Garland, 1987–1989); the relevant volumes edited with introductions by Alexander Silbiger), and have been studied extensively (see especially, Christine Jeanneret, L'œuvre en filigrane: une étude philologique des manuscrits de musique pour clavier à Rome au XVIIe siècle (Florence: Olschki, 2009), and Alexander Silbiger, Italian Manuscript Sources of 17th Century Keyboard Music (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 1980). The volume under consideration contains intonations, toccatas, and contrapuntal pieces, numbering twenty-five in all. They have been published in a large oblong format within a soft cover suited for placing on an organ desk, accompanied by a separate upright volume containing the prefatory material and textual commentary; the remaining pieces are to appear in a forthcoming volume in the complete works series.

The sources of the keyboard pieces are numerous manuscripts dating from the early seventeenth to the early eighteenth centuries, although most are preserved in only one source. They present significant problems for modern editors. If taken more or less literally, their texts frequently oblige the performer to resolve ambiguities regarding rhythm and the alignment between the parts, and leave many doubts regarding accidentals (see David Schulenberg, "Some Problems of Text, Attribution, and Performance in Early Italian Baroque Keyboard Music", Journal of Seventeenth Century Music 4, no. 1 [1998], online at [accessed 24 March 2017]). Conceivably, Pasquini's notation was similar to that of Frescobaldi, who left one autograph manuscript whose notation is partially illegible (see Christine Jeanneret, "Places of Memory and Invention: The Compo sitional Process in Frescobaldi's Manuscripts", in Interpreting Historical Keyboard Music: Sources, Contexts and Performance, ed. Andrew Woolley and John Kitchen [Farnham: Ashgate, 2013], 65–81). Copyists may have shared the composer's apparent lack of concern for notational precision, had problems reading the autographs, or were unable to arrive at their own solutions.

Two schools of thought exist on how to deal with these problems in a modern edition. One involves an attempt to modify the text in such a way that, while respecting the original notation, the editor intervenes to correct all its perplexing features, including rhythmic ambiguities (see editions of two Pasquini pieces, edited by David Schulenberg, published electronically at [accessed 24 March 2017]). The other limits intervention [End Page 196] mostly to pitch changes and the addition of editorial ties, in effect handing over some of the responsibility for critical judgement to the performer. Paul Kenyon, an organist with extensive experience in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Italian keyboard music, clearly leans towards the second point of view. His edition is refreshingly honest, but at the same time runs the risk of performances from it that may be unsatisfactory.

Some problems relate...


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