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davidh

Couperin Organ Masses

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I read this with some interest as a new critical edition of the Couperin organ masses will be published in June by the Norwegian publishing house Cantando Musikkforlag.

While researching for the edition, I came upon quite an interesting document in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in the hand of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, which is a gradual that is dated 1685-91. It describes the alternatim practice rather well. I thought it would be interesting to share with readers:

Quote

 

When the celebrant leaves the sacristy to go to the altar, a single cantor begins the introit until the first double bar, then the choir continues. The two cantors sing the psalm that follows the introit, but only to the midpoint, which the choir repeats. The cantors sing Gloria Patri, the choir, Sicut erat. The cantors repeat the introit, and the choir continues as before. Then, if the organ is in use, it plays the first Kyrie. The choir chants the second. And then in alternation. And the same for the Gloria in excelsis.

But, if there is no organ and with the introit finished, the cantors sing the first Kyrie and the choir sing all the others. 

When the celebrant has sung Gloria in Et in terra pax: and the choir the remainder.

After, the celebrant says Dominus vobiscum. The choir responds: Et cum Spiritu tuo. The celebrant says one or more prayers and, at the end, the choir immediately responds: Amen.

With the epistle complete (the organ plays – if there is one), the cantors sing the Alleluia, following the setting [for the day]. They continue with the verse that follows the Alleluia until the first double bar, and the choir continues to the end. The cantors then repeat the Alleluia as before; the choir does not, but rather goes on to complete the passage.

The Gospel is sung as marked. Then, the celebrant sings Credo in unum Deum. The cantors start Patrem omnipotentem. The choir follows with the remainder. 

Or two voices sing a verse and the choir the next, always in alternation.

The celebrant says Dominus vobiscum. The choir, Et cum Spiritu tuo. The celebrant, the Oremus. Also, if there is one, the organ plays and if not, we chant the Offertory. Following is the Preface. Then the Sanctus, where the organ plays the first [verset], the choir sings the second; the organ the third, the choir Pleni sunt cœli etc.

At the Elévation, the cantors begin O Salutaris hostia and the choir continues. And the organ plays the Benedictus. But if there is no organ, the cantors begin the first Sanctus. The choir follows with all the other verses. Then, the cantors begin the Benedictus and the choir continues. 

The celebrant sings the Lord’s Prayer, and the rest as marked. The organ plays the first and third Agnus, and the choir sings the second. But if there is no organ, the cantors begin the Agnus Dei and the choir continues. 

After, we sing the motet O Sacramentum pietatisfor the Communion.

The celebrant says Dominus vobiscum. The choir responds: Et cum Spiritu tuo and then Amen at the end of the prayers, which is sung immediately.

Finally, the Deacon or the celebrant sings Ite Missa est to the same chant of the Kyrie and the choir responds, using the same [chant], the Deo Gratias. Or the organ plays it, if there is one in use.

Then we sing the Exaudiat for the King.

‘Quand le Celebrant sort de la Sacristie pour aller a l’Autel, La Chantre Seul commence l’Introite iusqu’a la premiere grande bare, puis toute le Chœur poursuit. Les deux Chantres disent le Pseaume qui suit l’Introite, iusqu’a la moitée, que le Chœur reprend. Les Chantres, Gloria Patri. Le Chœur, Sicut erat. Les Chantres reprennent l’Introite, et le Chœur la poursuit toute entire comme auparavant. Ensuite, si l’on touche l’orgue a la Messe, l’orgue ioüe le premier Kyrie. Le Chœur chant le second Kyrie. Et ainsy alternativement. Et de mesme au Gloria in excelsis. | Mais s’il n’y a point d’Orgue, l’Introite estant achevée, les Chantres chantent le premier Kyrie. Puis le Chœur chant tous les autres. | Quand le Celebrant a chanté Gloria in excelsis Deo, les Chantres disent Et in terra pax. le premier couplet entier: et le Chœur tout le reste. | Aprés, le Celebrant dit Dominus vobiscum. Le Chœur répond Et cum Spiritu tuo. Le Celebrant dit une ou plusieurs Oraisons, et a la fin le Chœur repond Amen. Ce qui se chant tout droit. | L’Epistre achevée, (l’orgue ioüer s’il y en a,) les Chantres disent l’Alleluya, et poursuite le Trait des Notes. Les Chantres commencent le verset qui suit l’Alleluya, iusqu’a la premiere grande bare, et le Chœur poursuit iusqu’a la fin. Les Chantres reprennent encore l’Alleluya comme devant ; Et le Chœur ne le repete pas, mais il poursuit et acheve le Trait de Notes. | L’on chante ensuite l’Evangelie, comme il est marqué en son lieu. Puis le Celebrant chante Credo in unum Deum. Les Chantres commencent Patrem omnipotentem. Le Chœur poursuit tout le reste. Ou bien deux Voix chantent un couplet, et tout le Chœur un autre, ainsy tousiours alternativement. | Le Celebrant dit Dominus vobiscum. Le Chœur, Et cum Spiritu tuo. Le Celebrant, Oremus. Aussi ton l’orgue s’il y a en a. Sinon l’on chant l’Offertoire. Suit la Preface. Puis les Sanctus, dont l’orgue ioüe le premier, le Chœur chante le second. L’orgue le troiseme couplet. Le chœur, Pleni sunt cœli &c. | A l’Elevation les Chantres commencent O Salutaris hostia. Le chœur poursuit. Et l’orgue ioüe Benedictus. Mais s’il n’y a point d’orgue, les Chantres commencement le premier Sanctus. Le Chœur poursuit tous les autres couplets. Les Chantres commencent Benedictus, le Chœur poursuit. | Le Celebrant chante le Pater, et le reste comme il est marqué en son lieu. L’orgue ioüe le 1. et le 3. Agnus. Et le Chœur chante le second. Mais s’il n’y a point d’orgue, les Chantres commencement les trois Agnus Dei. Et le Chœur poursuit. | Aprés, l’on chante pour la Communion, le Motet O Sacramentum pietatis. | Le Celebrant dit Dominus vobiscum. Le Chœur répond Et cum Spiritu tuo. Et Amen, a la fin des Oraisons. Ce qui se chante tout droit. | Enfin le Diacre ou le Celebrant chant Ite Missa est, du mesme chant que le Kyrie. Et le Chœur répond de mesme Deo gratias. Ou bien l’Orgue s’il y en a. | Puis l’on chante Exaudiat, pour le Roy.’

15
 

 

The document may be found on Gallica's website in case anyone would like to see the original. It also contains the propers for the various masses, which – for those wishing to put at least the Paroisses mass into a liturgical context – may be combined with the setting of Cunctipotens genitor Deus, which is found on page cxvii of this document >>>.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 29/01/2016 at 16:38, Vox Humana said:

Whether it is still the best I don't know and I've not seen it, but I remember that the 1982 version by Kenneth Gilbert and Davitt Moroney from Éditions de l'Oiseau Lyre (a revision of Paul Brunold's 1932 edition) received very favourable reviews at the time. Brunold's edition was based on Couperin's print (which, incidentally, is on IMSLP); I believe the revised edition additionally took (autograph?) manuscripts into account.

The problem with the sources is that there are only four known copies and two that are now lost. Only one copy of the original 1690 edition exists, which was hand-copied with an engraved title page, extrait du privilège and a certificat by Michel-Richard Delalande, who acted as a censor for the office of the chancellor (a necessary requirement when applying for the rights to publish). This is found in the Bibliothèque  Inguimbertine in Carpentras. The masses were only allowed to be copied by a bookseller, who presumably employed a couple of copyists since each mass (they were sold separately) is in a different hand. The hand of the Couvent's mass has been dubbed by Catherine Massip as copiste Z , who was responsible for a number of manuscripts between c. 1690 and 1706, many of which are identified as coming from the atelier of André Danican Philidor. One other copy of the original edition was known to exist as late as 1837 and was mentioned in Fétis's Biographie Universelle; this cannot have been the Carpentras edition since both masses were in the same hand.

Copiste Z was also responsible for another major copy, which has the attractive title of F-V Ms Mus 4, which is housed in the Bibliothèque royale, Versailles. This is closely linked to two other known copies, one of dubious quality that was made in c. 1720 of the Paroisses mass and which is littered with omissions and mistakes; and another from c. 1840, which was copied by Alexandre Boëly from another lost manuscript, F-V Vm 2057. Bibliographical evidence suggests that this lost manuscript consisted of two sources, one from the late 17th/early 18th century and another from much later on. None of these copies can be traced directly back to Couperin and are probably related to a copy of an earlier draft since a number of common errors as well as variants that appear to have been revised for the publication, exist.

No other known sources are extant, which is possibly a good thing. The new edition, which comes out next month, contains over 1,200 entries in the commentary, so great are the differences.

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Welcome, Mathrafal.  Thank you very much for these two very interesting posts and especially for clarifying the situation regarding the sources. Gallica is such an interesting site!

3 hours ago, Mathrafal said:

... the setting of Cunctipotens genitor Deus, which is found on page cxvii of this document >>>.

Please could clarify this link to the Gradual? Am I missing something? Page 117 lands me in the middle of the Propers for the Third Sunday after Pentecost. The chants for the Ordinary start here, but I don't see Couperin's cantus firmi amongst them - at least not the Kyrie Cunctipotens or the Gloria (the Sanctus and Agnus are on pages 144-5).

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37 minutes ago, Vox Humana said:

Welcome, Mathrafal.  Thank you very much for these two very interesting posts and especially for clarifying the situation regarding the sources. Gallica is such an interesting site!

Please could clarify this link to the Gradual? Am I missing something? Page 117 lands me in the middle of the Propers for the Third Sunday after Pentecost. The chants for the Ordinary start here, but I don't see Couperin's cantus firmi amongst them - at least not the Kyrie Cunctipotens or the Gloria (the Sanctus and Agnus are on pages 144-5).

Thank you. This is AltMus, the same as AltNews! My apologies. I have updated the link and have also added it here>>>

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For the Couvents mass, the new edition uses Messe de Ste. Cecile by Paul D'Amance, which is in Tone VI and quite appropriate to work alongside Tone VIII. This is a very interesting example of neo-gallican chant and, although syllabically based, contains a number of trembelements  and  tremblements appuyées.

As I mentioned, the edition will be published in June and contains the liturgical contexts with the correct chant and appendices with Cuntipotens, the propers for the Sainte-Vièrge and Ste Cecile mass in full.

Incidentally, both masses are also being recorded in June by Jean-Luc Ho and Les Méslanges at Saint Michel en Thiérache (Paroisses) and Juvigny (Couvents). The label is Harmonia Mundi. This should prove to be an interesting performance: there have been several, notably with Marcel Pérez (although this is a little old-hat nowadays). Ho is a fine player and the scholarship of the conductor is quite something to behold!

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46 minutes ago, Mathrafal said:

Thank you. This is AltMus, the same as AltNews! My apologies. I have updated the link and have also added it here>>>

Many thanks, Mathrafal. Here is a direct link to the relevant plainsongs for anyone interested. 
 

34 minutes ago, Mathrafal said:

Incidentally, both masses are also being recorded in June by Jean-Luc Ho and Les Méslanges at Saint Michel en Thiérache (Paroisses) and Juvigny (Couvents). The label is Harmonia Mundi. This should prove to be an interesting performance: there have been several, notably with Marcel Pérez (although this is a little old-hat nowadays). Ho is a fine player and the scholarship of the conductor is quite something to behold!

This should be interesting. Somewhere I have an old casette tape (but no longer any means of playing it!) of a BBC broadcast of both masses played by Michel Bouvard with plainsong sung by what was billed as the Maitrises of the Versailles Baroque Music Centre conducted by Olivier Schneebeli. The performance style of the plainsong, with its (semi-rhythmical?) stretched notes and ornaments, was quite unlike the evenly-flowing plainsong we normally hear. It was said to be the result of research, but it's not a field I know anything about.

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Yes, it is interesting that we have been somewhat tainted by the Solemnes way of doing things. It seems to me that the tones were considerably longer in medieval and baroque days, which is why there are so many held tenors in the works of Dufay, Machaut etc., and why the quoted plainchant in the French organ masses is usually in semibreves. The Caeremonial Parisienne (1660? - I don't have my notes to hand) stated that the plainsong should be chanted at the same time the organ versets were played. This suggests that the norm was longish sustained notes, possibly supported by the organ, or that the pieces were so quick that no one noticed them happening!

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16 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

 

Many thanks, Mathrafal. Here is a direct link to the relevant plainsongs for anyone interested. 

 

You mnight also be interested to know that this particular volume contains Eugene Gigout's signature with the words "Souvenier de l'Abbé Jules Bonhomme | Avril 1876" on the flyleaf. 

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