John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator

Bernardino Bottazzi: Choro et Organo (Versetti per sonar sull’organo, Messe, Antifone e Inni),

Title:Bernardino Bottazzi: Choro et Organo (Versetti per sonar sull’organo, Messe, Antifone e Inni),

Editor: edited by Marco Ghirotti.

Publisher: Armelin Musica AMM282. 40Euros

Reviewed by John Collins

Bernadino Bottazzi, a Friar from Ferrara, is another of the nebulous figures of early 17th century European keyboard music, known to posterity only through this volume of pieces published in Venice in 1614; described on the title page as the first book, we do not know whether a second book was ever printed. There is a long history of organ masses in Italy both preceding and following Bottazzi’s print, in both Ms and printed sources, including the second book published by Girolamo Cavazzoni in 1543, the Messa de la Dominica by Brumel included in the Castell Arquato MS, the three organ masses by Andrea Gabrieli (which survive only in the Turin MS, the original print published by his nephew Giovanni having been lost ), the three organ masses published by Claudio Merulo, and the pieces includee by Adriano Banchieri in L’organo suonarino. Later examples up to 1645 include publications by Frescobaldi, Croce and Fasolo.

Bottazzi’s print contains settings for the Mass of the Apostles, the Mass Dominicale and the Mass of the Madonna, the Credo Cardinale, Credo Dominicale, a chromatic ricercar on the third tone and a set of 22 hymns covering the church year, concluding with four Antiphons of the Madonna which between them also cover the church year. There is also a set of the eight Tones in use.

The bulk of the book (pp. 9-55 ) contain the verses for the three Masses, which include the following verses: Kyrie 1 and3, Christe, Kyrie 1 and3, followed by the verses for the Gloria - Et in terra Pax, Benedicimus te, Glorificamus te, Domine Deus, Dominus Dei Agnus Dei, Qui tollis, Quoniam, Tu solus, In Gloria, concluding with the Sanctus 1 and 3, and the Agnus (one verse ). Although there are some written out trills and occasional passagework, these verses are generally far simpler in style than the more florid and highly ornamented verses by Andrea Gabrieli and Merulo. Bottazzi’s verses are also mainly imitative, but the In Gloria is chordal, and are far closer to the earlier verses of Girolamo Cavazzoni, indeed, some ten verses of the Missa della Madonna have been taken from Cavazzoni’s Missa de Beata Virgine which was published in 1543. All the appropriate plainchants are given, including those of the non-organ verses.

The two Credos cover pp. 56- 73. Both include verses for the Patrem, Et ex patre, Gentium, Crucifixus, Et ascendit, Et in spiritum, Et unam sanctam, Et expecto and the Amen. Five verses of the Credo Cardinale have been taken from Cavazzoni’s setting of this Credo included in his publication of 1543, (in the listing of Bottazini’s verses which appear in other, earlier sources, the opening bar of the Gentium is listed as being identical to the opening bar of Merulo’s Toccata Undecimo in his 2nd book of Toccatas in 1604 – this reference should be to the Gentium of the Credo Dominicale ). The verses are mainly imitative with occasional written out trills and other passagework. The Recercar Cromatico sopra il terzo tuono of 39 bars opens with the ascending chromatic fourth from E to A, in bar 24 the subject appears in its descending form, the slow solemn work concluding with a brief coda of intonazione or toccata -like character.

The hymns, each preceded by its plainchant, all contain just one verse, and are arranged from the Nativity onwards, with several not so well known hymns being included (Quicunque Christum qaeritis, Aurea luce, Pater supernis, Tibi Christe splendor Patris, Exultet caelum laudibus, Deus tuorum militSactorum meritis, Iesu corona virginum, Huius obtentu ). Like the Credo settings, most open with imitative writing building up to four parts but a few are homophonic and chordal. The setting of Christe Redemptor omnium appears twice, firstly for the Nativity and also for the Festo omnium Sanctorum. Several settings include fast passagework in the manner of a Gabrieli or Merulo verse. Bars 8-16 of Lucis Creator is also taken from Cavazzoni’s Missa de Beata Virgine, specifically from the verse Domine deus, Rex coelestis, and small sections of Tibi Christe and Exultet caelum are taken from the settings in the second part, fourth book of Il Transilvano, Girolamo Diruta’s treatise on playing of 1609. The four Marian Antiphons (Redemptoris mater, Regian caelorum, Letare and the salve Regina ) are similarly constructed, with written out trills in Regina and fast scalar passages in Letare, the editor suggesting a B natural in the final trill rather than a B♭, before its upward resolution onto the dominant, known from Giovanni Gabrieli.

The music is clearly printed, with no pageturns required. There is a comprehensive introduction to the work in particular and the Italian organ mass in general, a detailed concordance of Bottazzi’s use of material from Cavazzoni, Diruta and Merulo, the original introduction or “alli benigni lettori”, the 18 Avvertimenti or comments from the original print which contain invaluable advice on performance and ornamentation and, in no. 16, a much abbreviated adaptation of a Toccata by Merulo which was included in Il Transilvano. Only the introduction and the critical commentary have been translated into English, but alas, the translation reads as if it has been made by Google translate or some such internet tool, and the reader with a knowledge of Italian is advised to read all the notes in this language. The bibliography offers some useful further reading on the composer and the print and its place in the history of Italian keyboard music in general and the organ mass in particular. It is a great pity and serious problem that the first modern edition of these pieces is devalued by such a poor translation.

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© John Collins 2015