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Early Music for Harpsichord-1 Author(s): Howard Schott Source: Early Music, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Jan., 1976), pp.

27-30 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3126020 . Accessed: 31/05/2011 13:44
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Early harpsichord-i
music

for

HOWARD SCHOTTI

Ruckers, 1638, Keyboard of Two-manual harpsichord, transposing Russell Collection, Edinburgh

able to make actual on-the-spot comparisons between one edition and another. But all too many will simply have to take their chances and order music sight unseen. The present article is the first in a series of collective, retrospective reviews of what is currently available. We shall begin with an examination of the most familiar repertoire of music for harpsichord, the works of the five greatest 18thcentury keyboard composers. Further instalments will deal with earlier periods. In contemplating the imaginary horror of a total loss of my own keyboard music collection, the first constructive, happy thought which comes to mind is that it would not all have to be replaced. Bad editions left over from earlier days would certainly not be reacquired. The works of many minor masters could well be omitted from any scheme of restocking, so I shall limit my discussion in these articles to the major ones. This will exclude some rather big names, composers of high rank whose works for keyboard, other than the organ, are not on the same level of importance as their music taken as a whole. Buxtehude is an obvious example. Those composers whose works have been published in a great variety of editions, Bach most of all, will have to receive fuller attention than those whose music exists only in a single usable edition, such as Orlando Gibbons. Except for the FitzwilliamVirginal Book which is a unique collection, I shall not concern myself with anthologies as such. Before getting down to specific cases, it would be well to restate briefly the general principles, as I understand them, of what constitutes a good edition of early music. It will be textually accurate and typographically clear. It will offer some commentary, albeit very brief, on the music and how it was edited from what sources. Anything added by the editor will be clearly distinguishable as such. All but the most trivial textual changes will be noted. Any explanatory matter by way of suggested realizations or interpretations, whether of ornaments, conventional rhythmic alterations or whatever it may be, will be given on supplementary staves or in footnotes, but never merely incorporated in the main text. This may all sound very obvious, but there are still many editions in print, mainly older ones, which are far from meeting these commonly accepted standards. Some of these will be mentioned in passing by way of warning. Francois Couperin was about 15 years older than the generation of Rameau, Bach, Handel and Scarlatti, so let us begin with him. The four books of Pilces de Clavecin are currently available in no less than six complete editions. One of these, that made by Louis Dimmerand published by Durand, can be dismissed immediately from serious consideration. It is heavily over-edited with all ornaments written out, often incorrectly. The old Brahms-Chrysander edition, originally engraved almost a century ago for the Denkmiilrder Tonkunst series, is still available from Galliard, the successors to Augener who later brought out a trade edition of the publication. The text is unaltered but replete with errors and decidedly difficult to decipher because of the small format 27

Like so much being written today, this article is in a sense a product of our inflationary age. Along with virtually every other commodity, books not least of all, printed music has increased greatly in price during the past few years. I shudder to think what it would cost today to replace the entire collection of keyboard music which has been accumulated so painstakingly, lovingly, and above all, luckily since my first purchases while still a schoolboy. Although each new publication of importance in the early keyboard music field will surely be reviewed in this journal and perhaps elsewhere, there is hardly any general consumer information available to the reader who is in the process of assembling a basic library of music. Those fortunate enough to live in the vicinity of a well-stocked music shop or public library are

Francois Couperin

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and muddy printing. Admirable for its day though it was, the Brahms-Chrysander Couperin has outlived its usefulness. The edition by J6zsef Git, published by Editio Musica of Budapest, is textually acceptable but marginally less accurate than the other two Urtexteditions more readily available in western countries, those published by Heugel in its Le Pupitreseries, and by Les Editions de l'Oiseau-Lyre. The Heugel volumes, admirably edited by Kenneth Gilbert, offer a modern engraving of the music which closely follows the original. The introductions by the distinguished Canadian harpsichordist are most informative, especially the lengthy detailed preface to the first volume. The OiseauLyre edition is a reprinting of the pieces as they were originally published in the complete works of Couperin in an edition by Maurice Cauchie, now very slightly revised by Thurston Dart. The engraving dates from the early 1930s and is particularly elegant, with much more 'white space' than was allowed by Heugel for their somewhat crowded pages. But, alas, certain of Couperin's notational peculiarities were not retained by Cauchie and could not be restored by Dart. For instance, the lines drawn between two notes to indicate legato were replaced by two-note slurs which could possibly have other implications. Cauchie-Dart write out all rondeau refrains in full so that, given the generous lay-out of the pages, the player spends much time turning them over, more than is needed when using the Gilbert edition. There is also an excellent comprehensive selection from Couperin's four books in a volume edited by Sylvia Marlowe and published by G. Schirmer. It includes four of the 27 ordres in complete form and generous samples of the best pieces from the others. The introduction by this leading American performer and teacher provides sound guidance to interpreting the music. The engraving of the musical text is quite large and generously spaced, a considerable help to the inexperienced player who can so easily be confused by the multiplicity of ornament signs and the use of short notevalues in Couperin's music. is currently to be His treatise, L'Artde Toucher le Clavecin, had in two modern editions. The newer one by Margery Halford, published by Alfred/Boosey & Hawkes and reviewed elsewhere in this issue, is preferable because of a more legible and accurate musical text. However, the editor's English rendering of Couperin's less than limpid prose cannot always be relied upon. The 1933 edition by Anne Linde, published by Breitkopf & Hirtel, offers both German and English translations of serviceable quality. The small format of the musical text is rather difficult to play firom, and contains numerous changes and inaccuracies which have never been corrected. The Fuller-Maitland edition (Chester) of the eight preludes and little allemande without the rest of Couperin's treatise is over-edited with incorrect written-out ornaments so as to be quite unusable. Handsome facsimiles of the original 18th-century prints le Clavecin have of the Pilces de Clavecin and L'Artde Toucher been issued by Broude Brothers Limited. Those truly able to cope with the language and the notation of the period may

28

wish to consider these as alternatives to the recommended modern editions.

Domenico Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti's 555 sonata movements are currently being issued by Heugel in a series of 11 Le Pupitrevolumes edited by Kenneth Gilbert. The engraving is clear and the text quite pure, sometimes almost too much so, for Gilbert has avoided imposing consistency in many passages where an editor could not be criticized for doing so. This will probably be the complete Scarlatti to own. However, the house of Ricordi are planning a new Scarlatti-in-full in an edition by Emilia Fadini. Their previous pioneering edition by Alessandro Longo, dating from the turn of the century, is still in print but the editing is so pianistic and subjective as to put it out of court on every count. Among the many volumes of selected sonatas issued by various publishers, the outstanding one remains the 60 sonatas edited by Ralph Kirkpatrickand published by G. Schirmer. The extensive introduction alone is worth the price for it incorporates much of the teaching of this eminent virtuoso and scholar whose full-length study of the composer and his works has established itself as a classic. Unfortunately a fair number of errors in the musical text, mainly missing accidentals, remain uncorrected after 22 years. This anthology was the first to put into practice Kirkpatrick's discovery that most of the sonata movements were intended to be performedin pairs, occasionally in threes. The pairwise arrangement is not respected in the three volumes of 150 sonatas revised by Hermann Keller and Wilhelm Weissmann for Peters. The text is pure, with only occasional suggested pianistic nuances in small print and 'standard' fingerings to muddy the page. Neither are the 37 sonatas edited by Arnold Goldsborough for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music grouped in pairs. This is similar in form to the Keller-Weissmann edition and, as the sonata movements are given in order of increasing technical difficulty, can be used to introduce Scarlattiat an early stage. Other older anthologies, such as those revised by Buonamici (Schirmer), Sauer (Peters) and Barth (Universal) should be shunned as textually inaccurate and highly overedited. The facsimile edition of the complete sonatas published in 18 volumes byJohnson Reprints with introduction and notes by Ralph Kirkpatrick,is very expensive. It is so clear that one can play from it easily. The facsimile of the 30 Essercizi published by Gregg from a copy of the sumptuous 1739 original engraving is, alas, out of print.

able treatise in miniature on harpsichord technique, De la Michanique des Doigts sur le Clavessin (1724). Successive printings of Jacobi's edition, first published in 1958, have been corrected and supplemented in various small ways. All in all it remains exemplary. While Saint-Satns' revision was no doubt well meant, there is no justifying the bowdlerization of the musical text, tampering with the ornamentation and ruthless elimination of Rameau's own introductory matter. Facsimiles of two of the component volumes, the Suites (c.1728) have de Clavecin Pikces (1724) and the Nouvelles also been issued by Broude, but they obviously will not take the place of a complete modern edition.

Handel
The publishing history of Handel's harpsichord music, starting with the eight suites issued in 1720, is a complex tale, possibly not yet fully elucidated. Three more or less complete editions are currently in print. Of these the most recommendable is that still in progress based on the new complete Handel (HallischeHindel-Ausgabe),published by Barenreiter (Kassel) and Deutscher Verlag fiir Musik (Leipzig). The great eight suites were issued about 20 years ago in a revision by Rudolph Steglich with extensive notes and introductory matter, printed only in German. Except for a few passages where the editor's suggestions are indicated in smaller, lighter print rather than on separate staves, the text is very good. (One hopes that future printings may correct this fault.) The second collection of suites and pieces, originally issued in 1733, appears in a volume edited by Peter Northway while the third volume, a miscellany of suites, pieces and the six Grand Fugues, is edited by Terence Best. Both contain brief prefaces and editorial notes in English and Germar. A fourth volume of works in various manuscripts is planned and is expected to include a new revision of the so-called 'Aylesford Pieces' friom four manuscript volumes now in the King's Music Libraryat the British Library. (The original 1928 edition of these by BarclaySquire and Fuller-Maitland has been out of print for some years, but a selection of 20 of them, edited by Willy Rehberg is still available. Both are Schott publications.) The other Urtext Handel is a series of five volumes published by Peters, edited by Walter Serauky and C. F. Glasenapp, containing, in addition to the principal works, a number of further pieces, some of doubtful authenticity, aus derJugendzeit). especially in the 5th volume (Klavierbuch The editorial standard is generally acceptable, but there are some unaccountable deviations, especially in the text of the eight great suites of 1720, from the original. Peters have also continued to keep in print the older, pianistically conceived edition by Adolph Ruthardt in four volumes. Textually it is based on the old complete Handel edited by Chrysander. If one disregards the editorial markings and is able to restore some deleted ornaments, the edition is not unusable.

Rameau
The case of Rameau is relatively simple. There are two editions, one a modern Urtextby Erwin R. Jacobi, published by Biirenreiter,the other an 1895 revision by Camille SaintSaens, issued by Durand and recently reprinted by International Music Publishers as well. The Jacobi edition wins hands down. It is beautifully engraved and faithful to the last significant details. It prints Rameau's important introductions to his books of pieces, including that invalu-

Bach
Pure text editions of Bach tend to multiply these days. It is 29

very interesting to note that the earliest 19th-centuryprints of' his music, although insufficiently researched from a textual point of view, were much less disfigured than later issues of the keyboard music after Czerny set his bad example in an edition of the '48' which first appeared in 1837 and is still in print in many publishers' stocks. Peters, which had enjoyed such a success with his highly subjective and textually inaccurate revision, brought out an excellent pure text of the '48' in 1862 edited by FranzKroll, who later for the Bach Gesellschaft. Clavier provided the WellTempered But it was not until 1933 that another such Urtextfollowed when Peters brought out Ludwig Landshoff's model edition of' the Inventions and Sinfonias. The same firm has since issued the balance of Bach's harpsichord music in a series of volumes edited by KurtSoldan, Alfred Kreutzand Hermann Keller. These are all quite acceptable. Most have been newly engraved but a few have merely had their 19th-century accretions erased. The prospective purchaser must be on his guard, however, because Peters continue to market the older Czerny-typeeditions along with the newer Urtexts. The Henle edition, a post-1946 series of superbly engraved pure texts of Bach and the late 18th- and 19thcentury classics, is completely trustworthy. (One minor reservation is noted below.) The Henle publication of Bach's harpsichord music is now almost complete. The brief editorial reports are printed in three languages including English. As successive volumes of the new complete Bach edition (NeueBach-Ausgabe) appear, trade editions based on them are also published by Barenreiter.Thus far only three books of harpsichord music have come out, the two for Anna Magdalena, the one for Wilhelm Clavierbiichlein Friedmann and the Inventions and Sinfonias. These are handsomely produced and impeccably edited. Finally, the Vienna Urtext Edition, jointly published by Universal and Schott, is generally similar in scope to the Henle series. To ,date the only solo keyboard music of Bach's issued has been the Little Preludes and Fugues and the Inventions and Sinfonias. Typographically and editorially these two volumes are of a high standard. Commentaries, including a very detailed one for the Inventions volume, available with or without this lengthy appendix, are printed in English as well as German. A rather muddy reprint in reduced format of the old Bach Gesellschaft editions of the six English Suites, six French Suites, six Partitas, Goldberg Variations, 15 Inventions and 15 Sinfonias, issued a few years ago by Dover Publications certainly offer a lot of Bach at a low price. Unfortunately the French and English Suites are reprinted from an early Bach Gesellschaft volume which was later found to be so inaccurate that it was necessary to republish their text in another volume decades later. The other works printed are also textually deficient. Kalmus in the USA has reprinted the famous Bach edition of Hans Bischoff originally issued by in the 1880s. While not typographically distinSteingrAiber guished, these volumes do present a scholarly text with only a modest amount of editorial disfigurement of the original, fortunately printed in lighter type. 30

It was Bischoff's edition of the suites which showed how deficient the first Bach Gesellschaft version of them had been. They are still the most problematical works for keyboard textually. Never published by Bach, as were the Partitas, and constantly revised by the composer, they have come down to us through a number of manuscript sources, some friom the Bach h6usehold, others from the hands of pupils and disciples. The Bischoff editions are still textually as reliable as any, but there are some good modern redactions as well. The English Suites in the edition of Alfred Kreutz (Peters) and in that by Rudolph Steglich (Henle) are clearly and accurately presented but with miniscule editorial reports, considering the difficulty of preparing the text. The French Suites in Steglich's edition (Henle) only reflect the late versions which is regrettable. The differencesbetween certain passages can be exploited by the player in varying the repeats of the dance movements. The principal variant readings are shown in Hermann Keller's edition (Peters) but, although this is labelled as an Urtext,in fact there are articulation signs printed in normal engraving style which are not original. Still, it is quite usable as it stands. It is impossible to discuss all the many editions of single works which do not form part of an entire complete edition of Bach's keyboard music. A number of individual works were well edited by Alfred Kreutz for Schott. Outstanding editions in a class by themselves are Ralph Kirkpatrick'sof the Goldberg Variations and Donald Francis Tovey's of the '48'. Kirkpatrickoffers a clearly printed Urtextin large type, with explanatory matter engraved on small staves, and his extensive commentary on the interpretation of the music, covering such matters as tempo, phrasing and ornamentation, provides a most useful general guide to Bach playing on the harpsichord. Tovey's witty and erudite notes on the Clavier are helpful in dispelling the notion Well-Tempered that the work is intellectual, arid and of purely pedagogical value. The text is well presented: not quite pure because certain ornament signs are slightly changed. The edition dates from 1924, when the modern piano reigned unchallenged as the medium of performing Bach's keyboard music, but the fingerings by the great Bach pianist of the time, Harold Samuel, are more useful on the whole, especially for larger hands, than the usual sort of published fingerings, Facsimiles of the Inventions and Sinfonias have been issued by Peters (in some printings with a foreword by Kirkpatrick) and by Dover, which added the Bach Gesellschaft edition plus notes by Eric Simon. Neither these nor the reproduction of the autograph manuscript of the first book of the '48' published as Volume 5 of the facsimile series of the Leipzig Bach Archive, are intended for practical use. However, some of the Alfred Masterwork Edition volumes of Bach (Fantasiasin C minor [BWV906], Partita in B flat, Italian Concerto) include facsimiles of the principal sources of each, along with commentaries by Willard A. Palmer, together with his highly edited texts, printed in densest black fbr Bach and pale grey for Palmer.