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The Works of Palestrina

H. Bellermann, Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina, A. F. Urio, F. Chrysander
1880 The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular  
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more » ... TIMES.-APRIL I, I880. THE MUSICAL TIMES.-APRIL I, I880. of high notes for the first trebles and the first tenors, particularly for the latter. Of course Mr. Leslie's own force would make light of these difficulties, but the proved too much for the Brighton choir at the first performance. Especial reference must be made to the very artistic treatment of the orchestra throughout the work. The composer does not crowd his score nor make any unnecessary displa) of polyphony. But his feeling for colouring is uniformly felicitous, and a study of the vocal score will convey but a feeble idea of the eSects of many passages in actual performance. De?zkmaler der Toszk IC11St. T]ze Works of Palestriwa. Edited by H. Bellermann Vol. I., Sixty-six four-part Motets. Te Dezenl. By A. F. Urio. Edited by F. Chrysander. [Novello, Ewer and Co.] GIOVANNI P1ERLUIGI PALESTRINA occupies an unique position in the gallery of musical celebrities. The middle of the sixteenth century may be taken as the telmination of an important epoch in the art and the commencement of a new era, the duration of which ended with Haydn and the inauvuration of the melodic school. The musXcal glory of Flanders had culminated with Josquin Depres and Roland de Lattre, and the centre of gravity was for a time to be shifted to Rome. It is as an Art reformer that we have chief reason to feel gratitude towards Palestrina, for had it not been for him a grievous interdict would have been pronounced, the blighting influence of which might have retarded progress for ages. Ecclesiastical music at that date might be fitly characterised as an unholy alliance betwixt pedantry and profanity. It is difficult to say whether we should feel the greater astonishment at the complacency with which the sacred text was blended with secular and often indecent airs, or at the equal lack of reverence shown in permitting the words of the Mass to serve as the groundwork of meaningless canons and other contrapuntal puzzles. It will be unnecessary to repeat here the oft-told narratisre of the circumstances under which Palestrina composed his " Missa Papa Marcelli." Let it suffice that by this work he demonstrated to the ecclesiastical authorities that a return to the primitive fAtZX bozfrdo1z was not inevitablebut that Art stripped of all meretricious surroundings might still walk hand in hand with Religion. The service he thereby rendered to both cannot be estimated by ordinary calculations. The title of " Father of Church Music " may be as appropriately bestowed upon him as that of " Father of the Symphony " upon Haydn. Like the modern master. he lived to a good old age and svrote unceasingly. tRhe number of his Masses, Motets, Litanies, Magnificats Psalms, and Madrigals would reach a total of severai hundred. Dr. Chrasander's collection is to be completed in sixteen volumes. The first volume contains thirty-six Motets for use on the various festivals of the ecclesiastical year, originally published at Rome in I563, and another collection of thirty, first published atVenice, I58I. Unless however the editor accelerates the issue of the work he will be outpaced by Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel, whose splendid subscrintion edition of Palestrina-uniform with their Handel and Bach-is proceedinffl steadily. Eiaht books are already published, and it is estimated that the edition will be completed in about thirty books, the last of hich will be in the hands of the subscribers by the year I8g4 the tercentenary of Palestrina's death. The reprint of Urio's Te Deum is the first of a series entitled " Original Sources of some of Handel's Works." The next volume will include a Maanificat by Erba, and a Serenata by Stradella. It is known to musicians that Handel did not hesitate to avail himself, not only of phrases but of entire movements from the works of his predecessors and contemporaries, and it will be interesting to have placed within our reach those scores from which he condescended to borrow his ideas. In the present instance he has succeeded in immortalising a composer who svould otherwise have been swept from remembrance. Fetis simply remarks, concerning Urio, that he was chapelmaster at Venice near the close of the seventeenth century and that he published a work entitled " Salmi Concertati," at Bologna, I697. His Te Deum is not even mentioned. Why Handel should have selected it as suitable material for wholesale plunder it is difficult to say. Suffice it
doi:10.2307/3358275 fatcat:iohwb6nxrncgzlvbhuu26at2sm