« AnteriorContinuar »
external impressions of such a nature. For these reasons we think it consistent to vindicate Mr. Noyello's choice, though perhaps rather from its benefit in practice than in principle. We consider that if devout feelings can be excited or raised by fire music, the melodies MR. N. has so beautifully adapted, will in the million of instances, be most successfully employed, while they will strike upon the recollection of very few indeed as appertaining to things less serious and important. We state the objection and its answer because we have heard it made, rather than because we hold it to be of any material validity, except in its general application as a principle. We deem this to be an exception to a rule.
Mr. Noyello, in his six books of Motetts, * falls under our consideration in several capacities. He has selected, arranged, and adapted various works of celebrated authors, and be has favored us with compositions of his own. The world has so fully decided on his judgment and taste from his former publications, that we might safely consider we had truly discharged our function in assuring the musical reader that the later productions only continue to add to the sum of his acquired reputation. But we cannot be satisfied with so slovenly a mode of performing our duty. We think far too highly of the elegance and ability displayed throughout the whole to dismiss them with so loose a notice. We are under much obligation to the author for having made known to us some compositions which, but for his assistance and direction, we might but too probably never have enjoyed the opportunity of seeing.
* The Motett is a species of vocal harmony appropriated to the service of the church. The etymology of the word is not easy to be ascertained; MENAGE derives it from modus, to which it bears not the least affinity. BUTLER, a motu, because, says he, 5 the church songs called moteta, move the hearts of the hearers, striking into them a devout and reverent regard of them for whose praise they were made." On Music, page 5, in notis. Morley seems to acquiesce in this etymology, but understands motion in a sense different from BUTLER, as appears by these his words : “ A motet is properlie a song made for the church, either upon some hymne or anthem, or such like; and that name I take to have been given to that kinde of musicke in opposition to the other, which they called canto fermo, and we do commonlie call plain song, for as nothing is more opposit to standing and firmness than motion, so they did give the motet that name of moving, because it is in a manner quite contrarie to the other, which after some sorte and in respect to the other, standeth still.”—Introd. Part III. page 179.
Du Cange voce Motetum says, that though this kind of composition is now confined to the church, it was originally of the most gay and lively nature; an opinion not inconsistent with the definition of the word.-Hawkins's History of DIusic, vol. 3. page 79.
By far the largest portion of the volume, it will be conjectured, appertains to the classes of selection and arrangement. These labours, however, are neither slight in themselves nor in their effects. We give Mr. Novello full credit for the implicd task of searching out, through an immense body of music, the beauties hic has chosen. There is not a single specimen that has not pre-eminent merit, while the whole collection embraces a far greater variety of style and diversification of parts than could be well imagined in so few pages. This diversification renders the work particularly applicable and useful both in the choir and the chamber, for there is hardly a possible combination of treble, counter-tenor, tenor, and bass, that is not to be found in the book; and although none of the airs are to be called light in the customary acceptation of the word, there are yet among them vory graceful, pleasing, and elegant melodies in one, two, three, four, and five parts—pieces which cannot fail, whether used for the purposes of devotion or of scientific amusement, to elevate and gratify the mind.
Where Mr. Novello has adapted șecular music to sacred words, he has surmounted the difficulties with great felicity. WinTer's “ Mi lusci o madre amata," “ Grand Isi," from Mozart's “ Zauberflotte,” Haydn's“ Distressful nature fainting sinks," " Deh prendi un dolce amplesso," from the Clemenza di Tito, and some other things of a like sort, go so well that they appear to have been composed to the words they now bear. But the chiefest praise we can bestow upon the inotetts is, the direction of the taste to the soundest compositions of the best masters, which in their original form would probably have been lost to the greater part of the world. Perez* and MOREIRA are almost unknown to the British public, except through Mr. Novello; and we may fairly conclude that nothing but such a collection could have brought the single compositions of the Webbes, Wesley, Russell, and Evans, or the masses of Mozart and Haydn, into general acquaintance. They come to us too divested of the less popular and pleasing parts.
In the arrangement, Mr. Novello bas evinced a profound
* David Perez was by birth a Spaniard, and brought up in the Conservatorio of Santa Maria di Loreto, at Naples, under Antonio Gallo and FRANCESCO MANCINI. Ile wrote many operas and much church music. DR. BURNEY speaks of him at length in his Ilistory of Music, vol. 4. page 570. He was Born in 1711, and died after being many years blind, at the age of 67. His Nutiuntino dei morti was published in England in score about 30 years
knowledge of the art of accompaniment. He has combined the parts with a fullness, a richness, and an elegance that cannot be too highly esteemed. When Mr. Clementi's harpsichord score of the Creation appeared, it was universally recommended by scientific men as a model for accompanists. Mr. Novello's arrangements are by no means second to this reputed score. They afford admirable lessons for the mind of the student as well as a copious variety of practice for the hand, rising through several degrees from simple and easy instructions to some of complicated execution.
It is no slight honour to the musicians of our own age and country that Ma. NovelLo's nice and instructed eye should have delighted to dwell
and to select more than a fourth part (including Mr. N.'s own works) of the six books from the writings of Englishmen. The honour too is enhanced when we find that they possess natural strength enough to enable them to stand upon the same field with such men as SEBASTIAN Bach, Mozart, and Haydn. The compositions of Webbe and Russell have each their proper and peculiar merits. The treble solo by Russell, “ Miserere me Deus," is exquisite both in its melody and accompaniment; and the “ Are rerum” and “ Gloria et honore,” by Wesley, are extremely fine, in bowever rather an organ stile. Webbe's recitative, duet, and chorus, “Qui seminant,” is exceedingly expressive, and in the latter part highly spirited and animating. His quartett “ Tu eligisti,” though grand and affecting, preserves throughout an elegance which is scarcely exceeded in this respect by any composition in parts in the book.
S. Webbe, Jun.'s “ Pater noster" is very singular, and appears to us to be very original; the expression is frequently admirably heigbtened, and in the last few musical phrases to the words“ Regnum potentia et gloria,” the bass is very effectively employed. We could not quite reconcile the accentuation to our ears, yet we are wholly unable to discover wherefore. There is, however, something very peculiar in the construction of the whole air. Perbaps a portion of the singularity belongs to the vocal sentences almost all commencing in the middle of the bar. 66 Voluntas tua sicut in cælo et terra,” are scarcely good vocal passages, and more striking than pleasing. The solo by Mr. Evans, one of the gentlemen of the King's chapel, is of great merit, considering the limits which nature has placed upon the composer for the circumscribed compass of a counter-tenor voice; it abounds in graceful passages, and does not weary the ear by repe
titions; this is one of the instances that prove how few riotes are necessary to the structure of fine melody.
From Haydn and Perez MR. Novello has drawn the greatest quantity of wbat we may be permitted to call bis foreign matter. The subjects he has chosen from the former are identified with the numberlesss works of the master already known, by the same rich and flowing melody, the same variety of modulation and fullness of harmony. In the hands of such a skilful anatomist and demon strator as Mr. N. has proved himself to be, HAYDN is safe. None but his beauties will be presented for the inspection of the world.The quartett of which the music is from the Stabat mater—“ Te ergo quæsumus equals, in the particular excellencies of Ilaydn, almost any thing of this kind from his pen ; it is exceedingly elegant and pathetic, but often as we have seen these words set in different ways and by many composers, they never reach the heart so surely as through the exquisite duet of GRAUN. Indeed the recollection of this inestimable example of expression, always dampší our hopes when we open a “ Te ergo,” and may perhaps detract from our impartiality. However so it is. “ T'u ad liberandum" contains some delightful applications of melody and of harmony also to words. The transitions are in parts bighly striking and impassioned. “Jesu deus pacis” is a powerful example of Haydn's mannerism, inasmuch as relates to subject and modulation, but stopping short of that exuberant fertility, that overflow of the imagination which scarcely ever to be restrained or wearied when most felicitously employed, is one of the chief characteristics of his genius.
From Haydn we pass to Perez, whose compositions, almost as little known to England as those of any ancient author, MR. Novello has shewn to possess much that entitles them to veneration. Indeed he draws more largely from Perez than any other. Our acquaintance with the works of the Spaniard is so slight, that we know not whether these adaptations are from bis secular or Iris sacred writings, and we are free to confess, we are unable to form any judgment upon tlie point from internal evidence, for they appear to us so naturally fitted to the wor.Is, tliat we are indifferent as to their real origin. Nothing can exceed parts of them. We are almost induced to prefer them to any other portion of the collection. From beginning to end there is a predominating character of superiority. Tlie first “ Tenebræ
alæ sunt” is a sublime composition indeed. The opening movement is awfully grand, though full of the pathetic import of the last words of the Saviour upon the cross, " My God, my God, why hust thou forsaken me;" while the second, “ Et inclinato capite emisit spiritum,” is far above any commendation we can bestow; and its repetition after the 5 Exclamans Jesus,” carries into the conclusion the sweet, calm, and touching conception which is the pervading spirit of the whole. We know not what to prefer to this.--The first strain of “ Medid nocte" is also eminently grand and affecting from its air and harmonies, while the other parts are equally strong and exciting. The duet “ Sentiant omnes,” is pathetic; but we think it somewhat heayier and less interesting than his other pieces. The most magnificent of all we have, is the “ Regnum et civitatem circunda.” Nothing can go beyond the contrasted simplicity and grandeur of the opening of the second movement, and the working of the parts, especially the bass, which comes in with a dignity and effect that reminds us of some of Handel's most successful uses of it in his chorusses. This is truly a noble composition. “ Cum jucun, dilate” is really jocund; it is in a new and lively style, essentially differing from those things we have noticed. Upon the whole, we greatly admire this author; and, if we think he has failed at all, it is in the subjects of his fugues, which do not seem to be happily chosen. But what occurs to our observation as most curious is, that after the years which have elapsed since he flourished, and the quantity of music written, we do not discover a single mean or common place passage. On the contrary, the music of Perez breathes a lofty, original, and a modern air, together with a sweetness and a smoothness equal to the best compositions, either of biş own or later timnes.
LEAL MOREIRA, who stands next in the order of proportion, is of our own age, he being the composer to the patriarchal church at Lisbon. The selections from him are far below those we haye just reviewed, in melody; this necessarily leaves a dissatisfation in the comparison, which is unavoidable to those who shall look carefully into the book. But Moreira is not without the degree of merit that entitles a com; poser to a niche in Mæ. Novello's temple of taste. His pieces have more of the visible force of art than those of Perez, because they are less simple. Their characteristics are originality and power rather than grace and softness, and perhaps the contrast they ex