Mito e Realidade – por David Bryant – Parte 1

Um dos artigos mais exatos dos musicólogos mais tradicionais, esse texto pretende encerrar algumas das acepções criadas a partir dos primeiros vestígios analisados do Cori Spezzati.

Página 165: “Niccolò Fausti, master of ceremonies at St Mark’s Venice from 1576 to 1598, in one of his several additions at the back of a manuscript ceremoniale of 1564, lists the days on which Vespers in the ducal basilica were performed by two choirs of singers. The information is taken, he states, ‘from the list of duties of maestro di cappella Giuseppe Zarlino'”
– listagem de 29 celebrações com execução de música com coros duplos em 1564.

Página 166: “one of Fausti’s predecessors, Bartolomeo Bonifacio (1552-64)”

Página 167: [Bartolomeo Bonifacio] “De Annunciation B. M. V., (…) ‘in both Vespers all the psalms are sung most solemnly by two choirs of singers; and similarly the psalms of Compline of the feast-day [itself]'”
– “De Circumcisione Domini (‘all the psalms are sung by two choirs of singers’), De Assumption B. M. V. (‘the psalms … are sung in both Vespers by the singers in two choirs’), De Dedicatione Ecclesiae S. Marci (Second Vespers only: ‘the psalms … in two choirs’)”
– “Bonifacio’s observations bear out, indeed elucidate, those of Zarlino, (…) in Part III of his Le istitutioni harmoniche”
– “The earliest surviving Venetian examples in this style are the eight salmi spezzati (1550) of Willaert – cited, in fact, by Zarlino”
– “double-choir psalms for Compline (1591), Terce (1596) and Vespers (1597) of Giovanni Croce. All these works are scored for two four-voice choirs, which, in strict conformity with liturgical tradition, are alternated verse by verse (occasionally half-verse by half-verse), each of these liturgical units being expressed as a closed musical block.”

Página 168: “precise instructions for at least one occasion (First Vespers of Pentecost) are given by Bonifacio: ‘The singers sing the psalms divided in two choirs, namely, four singers in one choir and all the rest in the other.'”
– [Bonifacio, 1564] “OF THE PSALMS TO BE SUNG ON ALL SOLEMN FEASTS. Formerly, on all solemn feasts, the psalms were sung by the small choir, and by the singers who normally sing by practice [ex pratica, indicating an oral tradition], if they were available; in which case they were appointed to sing more georgiano. Today this practice of singing has fallen into disuse, and the singers of the greater choir sing all the psalms and whatever remains. And the psalms they sing divided in two choirs, namely four singers in one choir and all the rest in the other; since the small choir no longer exists”

Página 169: “That this practice was indeed polyphonic is duly confirmed by Fausti when, in a statement made in October 1589 before the Procuratia de Supra (the body responsible for the day-to-day administration of the basilica), he refers to a recent performance of the psalms which had been given ‘by two choirs in polyphonic music’.”
– “in St Mark’s, at least, the eight-voice salmi spezzati of Willaert and Croce were not, as has been believed hitherto, performed antiphonally, but rather, responsorially with four vocal soloists in one of the musical groups and all the rest of the singers, anything up to nine (for the second half of the sixteenth century) or eighteen (for the early seventeenth century onwards), in the other. One may note in this traditional manner of performance a definite liturgico-musical precedent for the systematic contrast between solo and ripieno voices used by Monteverdi in a number of his Vespers psalms”
– “During the procession on Good Friday, Venite et ploremus as sung by two choirs of singers: ‘in the first group … are four of the best; in the second group all the others’.”
– “On the same day, and on the previous Wednesday, the singers sang the Passion in three choirs: one soloist was the Evangelist; three sang the words of Christ (making four soloists in all); the others, all together, were the crowd.”
– “On Easter Sunday, at the start of the sepulchre drama, the procession (which had been formed at the nearby ducal palace) reached the church to find its entrance barred. Four singers inside began with the words ‘Quem quaeritis’, to which the rest, outside, replied ‘Iesum Nazarenum’, and so on. During many important processions the singers performed the litanies in two choirs.”

Página 170: “The manner in which they were divided is stated only in connection with the Processio de Domina ad pluviam sive serenitatem petendam: here it is prescribed that ‘the litanies of the Blessed Virgin… are said… by four singers; and all the other singers always respond “Sancta Maria ora pro nobis”‘.”
– “from where in the church did the two groups of singers perform? According to Zarlino, ‘[the] choirs are placed at a little distance one from the other’, a statement which seems to have given rise to the supposition that in St Mark’s the groups of singers were housed quite separately, one in each of the organ lofts on either side of the choir (see Figure 1). Neither this assumption, however, nor the comments upon which it is based are borne out by the contemporary documents of St Mark’s. These, in fact, contain four separate statements to the contrary.”
– “an entry in the acts of the Procuratia de Supra; it describes how at First Vespers in Dedicatione Ecclesiae S. Marci, Sunday 7 October 1589, there had been an argument in church as to whether the psalms of that service were or were not to be sung by two choirs. The master of ceremonies, Niccolò Fausti, said that they should be, but the singers disagreed. In this they had liturgical tradition on their side, for no one could recall a single precedent for the maestro’s directives. Nevertheless, Fausti had his way, and so ‘the book boy brought the books for singing in two choirs to the pergolo … Vespers was said, which the singers sang in two choirs’. This pergolo is identified by Giovanni Stringa, master of ceremonies at St Mark’s in the early years of the seventeenth century, as the hexagonal structure which stands in the nave of the church at the southern end of the iconostasis (see Figures 2 and 3); on it, he says, ‘almost always, and particularly on solemn feasts, and when the signoria comes to church, the musicians sing at High Mass and Vespers’. The procuratorial act contains the names of thirteen musicians ‘who were then in the pergolo’: their leader Baldassare Donato and twelve others, two of whom are identifiable as sopranos, three as countertenors, three as tenors and three as basses (the vocal range of the twelfth singer, a certain ‘Fra Gio: Ang.o de f.ci’, is not specified, but he was presumably a third soprano). These performed four of the five psalms according to the standard, double-choir practice outlined above. Of the fifth, however, no such double-choir setting could be found (there never having been need for it in the past), so this they sang in falsobordone.”
– “The other three statements are all from the ceremoniale of 1564:
OF [THE FEAST OF] ST JOHN THE BAPTIST. [In Second Vespers.] 1558. By order of the Most Serene Prince and the … procurators … we make a great solemnity … The psalms are sung by the singers in two choirs … in the choir [of the church] at the high altar.
On the Vigil of Ascension the singers … sing alternatim, divided in two choirs. His Serenity mounts the great pulpit and there hears Vespers … The singers sing in the new pulpit of the lessons, although they are tight in it. Whenever Our Most Serene Lord the Doge sits in the choir the singers are situated in the great pulpit.
[OF [THE FEAST OF] ST MARK. In First Vespers.] Our Lord the Doge mounts the singers’ pulpit, and there hears Vespers … Nevertheless, today the chorus [of priests] is not in the middle of the church, for Our Lord the Doge does not mount the pulpit as formerly.”

Página 175: “In the first of these excerpts the singers are said to have stood on the floor of the choir, near the high altar. In the second their preferred position is the pulpitum magnum cantorum (the hexagonal pergolo); more often, however, this was occupied by the doge, and they sang instead from the pulpitum novum lectionum, a two-storey structure which stands, like the pergolo, in the nave but at the north end of the iconostasis (see Figures 2 and 4). In the third their position is not explicitly stated; however, it may be inferred, if only tentatively, that although formerly, having been displaced from the hexagonal pergolo by the doge, they were situated with the chorus of priests ‘in medio ecclesiae’,29 they were ‘today’ free (the doge having moved elsewhere) to take up residence in what according to Stringa was their regular position, the same hexagonal pergolo, the pulpitum magnum cantorum. In no case in the ceremoniale of 1564 are the singers assigned to the organ lofts for the singing of the double-choir psalms. In no case, either, is it required that they be divided into two, spatially separated groups. Indeed, the whole need for spatial separation as an aid to distinguishing aurally between the two groups of singers would surely have been obviated by the responsorial alternations of soloists and ripieno choir so central to the liturgically prescribed manner of performing salmi spezzati. It would appear that the remarks of Zarlino – addressed, perhaps, less to his colleagues in Venice than to the musical world at large – relate more to doublechoir performance practice in general than to the particular set of conditions that governed the performance of the psalms during Vespers at St Mark’s. His very choice of Willaert’s salmi as illustrative material may well have been determined by sheer necessity: in 1558, when the first edition of Le istitutionwi as published, no other polychoral music was readily available in print to his readers.”

BRYANT, David. The ‘cori spezzati’ of St Mark’s: Myth and Reality. In: FENLON, Iain (org). Early Music History, Vol. 1 (1981). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 165-186.

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