The joy of facsimile

Another day, another edition. Choosing and programming the music for our Cardoso450 project was one challenge; producing performing editions of all the works is quite another. The few pieces that already exist in our library will be redone; except the organ voluntaries, every piece of music on the Cardoso450 Calendar represents a from-scratch edition.

The sheer volume of music, particularly in the first two months – 10 new editions in February, 28 in March – requires careful yet quick editing. When working from secondary sources, particularly those which are less than clear about their editorial practice or honest about their interferences, one runs the risk of blindly imitating error; working from original sources removes all the questions that other editions create. Although some secondary source use is inevitable, we are fortunate to have several original sources available. 

Cardoso’s music was set out by Pieter van Craesbeeck, the royal printer in Lisbon, with great care; the prints are very clear, and ambiguous underlay or accidentals are rare. An interesting example of this is in the motet Sitivit anima mea and this particular section of text:


The recordings I have all place the ‘me’ of ‘mea’ on the semibreve A, extending the final syllable of ‘anima’ to include the crotchets. The edition to hand which prints this underlay does so without comment. Perhaps there is merit in delaying ‘mea’ so that it falls on the beat; however, this is at odds with the underlay clearly given, and at odds with the treatment of the text throughout the motet: ‘anima’ is predominantly syllabic, ‘mea’ often melismatic. The final syllable of ‘anima’ is treated melismatically only twice in the motet and both times the running crotchets begin immediately. It seems most unlikely that the text has been incorrectly positioned.

Of course, occasional errors do occur in the prints, but these are usually of no great consequence. For example, did you notice that the initial S in the example is upside down?

This level of detail is indicative of that required for each piece in the Cardoso450 project; by retaining the original underlay in our edition we hopefully come closer – one syllable at a time – to presenting Cardoso’s music as faithfully as possible.

Cardoso450 begins on Wednesday 10th February; Sitivit anima mea will be sung at Mass on Sunday 28th February.