Herb Myers has reconstructed the trombone parts for Magnificat’s performance of vespers music from Monteverdi’s Selva morale on June 8 as part of the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition. We asked him to discuss the issues involved in “Re-composing” Monteverdi.
In the rubrics heading a number of the items in the Selva morale – including the Dixit Dominus secondo, Beatus vir primo, Laudate Dominum primo, and Magnificat primo on today’s program – Monteverdi mentions the optional inclusion of a choir of either viole (in this case meaning lower members of the violin family) or tromboni. The rubrics are somewhat deceptive however, in that they suggest these instruments may be “left out, according to need,” while in fact if we wish to include them their parts must be reconstructed, as such parts are generally lacking in the original print.
We are thus left with a number of puzzles. Are the instruments simply supposed to double the vocal parts? If so, which ones? (There are always more vocal parts than the suggested number of viole or tromboni – usually just four.) And where do they play? Throughout? (Unlikely, but possible.) Just in the tutti sections? Or wherever the obbligato violins play?
Happily an otherwise unfortunate mistake on the part of Bartolomeo Magni, Monteverdi’s publisher, helps provide answers. Read more…