Category: 1/2022

FUGUE FOR 13 SOLO STRINGS BY WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI: BETWEEN THE AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY AND MUSICOLOGICAL REFLECTION

Abstract: The Fugue for 13 Solo Strings by Witold Lutoslawski is one of the remarkable examples of a sonorous interpretation of the Baroque form. The first researcher to study the Fugue was Yuzef Kon, who chose Lutoslawski’s own statements about his opus as a starting point for research. Further studies are based, largely, on the conclusions made by Kon. Among them a special mention should be made to significant contributions by Valeria Tsenova and Natalia Simakova. Thus, the existing Russian research framework concerning the Lutoslawski Fugue is largely determined by the composer’s commentary and does not embrace elements of the form. The analytical part of the article explores issues that have not been the focus of research to date. It shows how sonorism transforms the theme texture, the logic of relations between the subject and the answer, the juxtaposition of the subject and countersubject. The article also discusses the choice of the means for the development and conclusion of the sections of the form and describes changes to the poetics of the Fugue. The article is a follow-up and a contribution to the development of Yuzef Kon’s ideas about the reinterpretation of the form of Lutoslawski’s Fugue. Download the article

MAXIM BEREZOVSKY’S CONCERTO DO NOT REJECT ME IN MY OLD AGE: A PERSPECTIVE FROM JOHANN JOSEPH FUX’ SCHOOL OF FUGUE

Abstract: The fugues in the 1st and 4th movements of Maxim Berezovsky’s sacred concerto Do Not Reject Me in My Old Age, created no later than 1768, are probably among the first ones composed by him. Fugues differ in their texture. Written for four voices, the fugue of the first movement is, in fact, two-voice. Here, solo and ensemble statements alternate with choral interludes. The form of the 4th movement is a four-part fugue without solo episodes. At the same time, fugues have the same compositional structure: four sections delimited by cadences on the principal scale degrees V, III, and I. The uniformity and, at the same time, uniqueness of the structure of both fugues suggests that they follow a certain pattern or reproduce a scholarly model. An attempt to track this model in the 17th-18th century treatises by G. Karissimi, J. A. Reincken, G. Bononcini, J. Mattheson, J. J. Fux, J.A. Scheibe, M. Spiess, and F. W. Marpurg leads to Gradus ad Parnassum (1725) by Johann Joseph Fux—the most sought-after treatise on composition back in the 18th century. Two-part examples from the first part of Gradus ad Parnassum may have served as a hypothetical model of fugues from Do Not Reject Me in My Old Age. They also consist of sections completed by cadences on the V, III and I degrees. At the same time, cadences in the fugue Let Them be Ashamed (the 4th movement of the Concerto) are consistent with Fux’ remarks about the use of cadences in the conditions of polyphony. However, Berezovsky’s approaches are not always consistent with the ideas of Gradus ad Parnassum. This is partly due to the difference in the modal systems used by Fux and Berezovsky, and, partly, due to the difference in their ultimate goals: educational and artistic, respectively. Download the article

J.S. BACH’S CANONS BWV 1087: MORE ON MUSICAL EMBLEMATICS

Abstract: The article focuses on 14 canons by J.S. Bach, BWV 1087, written by the composer in the printed copy of the Clavierübung IV (Goldberg Variations) under the title Various Сanons on the First Eight Foundation Notes of the Preceding Aria. The article compares this cycle with the canons from the Goldberg Variations. In particular, it explores the information accompanying the canons. Every third Goldberg Variation is called Canon. This first group of canons is marked by an imitative sequential form of variation with a completely open and fixed musical text. The second group of Fourteen Canons is marked by specific encryption. Here, the notation does not contain the complete melodic material: the melodic material given is the foundation for the full text of the composition to be derived by means of, inter alia, titles and a set of signs that serve as a guide to their reading. Each of the 14 encrypted canons features an eight-sound soggetto as an initial construction of the bass melody from the Goldberg Variations theme, the Aria. As a canon-forming voice on the whole, in part or as a cantus firmus, an eight-sound theme is the audible and visible basis of all the canons in question. Due to its brevity and constructive isolation, the theme is perceived entirely and at once. The analysis of the encrypted canons BWV 1087 revealed parallels to the three constituent parts of an emblem: the word (a motto) is the soggetto, the image is the musical text of the canon as a voluminous and polysemantic entity subject to decoding, and, finally, a signature that allows you to “read the depicted”. The latter, in case of the canons, implies hearing the decrypted whole and understanding the accompanying signs and explanations. Download the article

BACH’S “FOURS”

Abstract: The grouping of pieces is the matter of concern for both composers and researchers. For the former, it manifests itself already in the titles of collections, while for the latter it is an impetus for a comprehensive study of hidden mechanisms behind composers’ thinking. Milka in his article Bach’s Sixes (1999) identified several ways Bach approached the grouping of works. However, in his large cyclical opuses another “measure” stands out: the four, formed by canons (Die Kunst der Fuge) or duettos loaded by canonical work (Clavier Übung III). By way of a reminder, Bach’s canons are usually grouped by ten and/or four: Einige Canonische Verænderungen, BWV 769, contains four contrapuntal canons (variations I–IV) and four thematic ones (variation V); Musicalisches Opfer features ten canons: six countrapunctal and four thematic; Verschiedene Canones, BWV 1087, includes 14 canons written in groups of four, six and four canons. In fact, the grouping of four is not limited to Bach’s canons alone: he is known for numerous four-part suites and sonatas. So, it is not surprising that four orchestral suites, created in different years, were collected and numbered by W. Schmieder as a specific group of four. Research should focus on how Bach organises his compositions in groups of four, but also how, under the pressure of circumstances, he himself violates his plans (e.g., his engraving of Musicalisches Opfer and Die Kunst der Fuge). Whatever approach to grouping we take, a question begs itself: what provides diversity and what facilitates integrity? A. Milka answered this question through his analysis of the “sixes”. This article is an attempt to approach the Bach’s “fours”. The internal organisation of the “four” depends on its context: in a contrasting environment, it demonstrates the diversity of its components, in a balanced environment, it is organized in the order of the main technical characteristics. The functional and semantic content of the “fours” depends on how they are presented in a large cycle: together or in random order. In the first case, the highlight is the difference between the “four” and the pieces surrounding it. In the second case, it strengthens the structure of the whole, as its part, from inside. Download the article

SOME THOUGHTS ON BWV 769 AND 769a CANONS

Abstract: J. S. Bach’s Canonic Variations are available in their original edition (BWV 769) and the autograph manuscript (BWV 769a, manuscript P 271). Remarkably, the two versions differ significantly not only in graphics and design, but also in musical composition. The comparative analysis reveals a number of oddities. The original edition, according to the title, presents the work as a cycle of variations, while the autograph version as a sequence of canons, without a hint of any variation. In this regard, of particular interest is the original printed edition. It has obvious signs it was intended for performance: a layout meant to avoid page-turning when performing the piece, an indication which hand (dextra or sinistra) to play a particular voice, signs of dynamics, the manner of performance, etc. At the same time, it has certain features that indicate the opposite. First of all, the canons in the first three variations are encrypted. Another oddity associated with the first one, yet representing a separate issue, is that the canons in the fourth and fifth variations are not encrypted. Why prompted the composer to encrypt the canons and why did he do it only in the original printed version? This is the question the article aims to answer. Download the article

MUSICAL INTERPRETATIONS OF AMOR, SE VUO’ CH’I’TORNI AL GIOGO ANTICHO BY PETRARCH IN CANZONES BY BARTOLOMEO TROMBONCINO, BERNARDO PISANO AND SEBASTIANO FESTA

Abstract: The development of poetic Petrarchism in the first decade of the 16th century entailed the flourishing of Petrachism in music. During the transformation of poetic and musical composition due to the development of madrigal, musicians resorted to Petrarch’s poems as a way to free themselves from the dictate of normative song forms and language and to find new ways of musical expression. Among them are Bartolomeo Tromboncino, Bernardo Pisano, and Sebastiano Festa and their focus on Petrarch’s canzone Amor, se vuo’ ch’i’torni al giogo anticho. All the works were published within a short time span. The earliest is the canzone by Tromboncino, included in the Eleventh Book of Frottole by Ottaviano Petrucci (Fossombrone, 1514). Next came Pisano with a work from his author’s collection, also published by Petrucci (Venice, 1510). Finally, the composition of Festa became part of the First Book of Frottole, published by Giovanni Giacomo Pasoti and Valerio Dorico (Rome, 1526). In all the three cases the first stanza of the Petrarch’s canzone is set to music. Tromboncino’s version clearly shows the reliance on the frottola style and the possibility of a solo performance by cantore al liuto. Pisano creates a canzone-motet in a sublime contrapuntal style with a deep intonation-based elaboration of the text. Festa’s interpretation is based on his experience as a church musician. He has a penchant for complex texture, yet, in general, opts for a declamatory presentation of the text. In this way, the three stylistic interpretations of Petrarch’s canzone reflect both the creative individuality of each author and the general evolutionary trends of the first decades of the Cinquecento and its concepts about high secular vocal composition. Download the article