On-line Book Review

YO TOMITA


FRONT COVER OVERVIEW
Dimension 22.7 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
TITLE The Crucifixion in Music: An Analytical Survey of Settings of the Crucifixus between 1680 and 1800 by Jasmin Melissa Cameron. (= Contextual Bach Studies, no.1)
PUBL. DETAILS Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, Inc. (2006) xxiv, 371p. Hardback. US$90.00; Paper $50.00
ISBN 0-8108-5275-6 (cloth); 0-8108-5872-X (paper)
TO ORDER Scarecrow Press, Inc. 4720 Boston Way, Lenham, Maryland 10706, USA
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION A monograph exploring the Crucifixus from a broader historical context.
WORKS COVERED BWV 4, 12, 105, 232.
READERSHIP Scholars and students interested in Mass settings.
RESEARCH 
CONTRIBUTION
It opens our horizon to see a wider range of issues in perspective, allowing us to see ‘what to study next’ towards the better understanding of the subject.

F

or more than a century Bach’s music has attracted intense scholarly interests. Some studies have been so narrowly focused that they often failed to consider appropriately the contextual perspective of the music of his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors, leaving the study itself as an end rather than a beginning of further investigations.

The book under review is the first of this new series of monographs for which the editor, Robin A. Leaver chose Jasmin Cameron’s PhD thesis submitted to the University of Liverpool in 2001. Cameron’s thesis offers many fresh insights as she approaches the subject very differently from those scholars who have examined Bach’s works from ‘within’.

Contents in brief

List of Figures and Tables
Reader's Note
Editor's Foreword (Robin A. Leaver)
Preface
Acknowledgements

I

The Liturgy and Its Musical Implications

1. The Crucifixus: An Overview

II

Investigative Approaches

2. Music and Rhetoric: Representation of the Text as Conceived by Theorists of the Eighteenth Century.

3. Modern Analytical Views Relevant to the Subject and Their Relationship to Rhetoric

III

Analysis

4. A Musical Overview

5. Analytical Results

IV

Case Studies

6. Adaptation of Preexisting Music for a Setting of the Crucifixus: J. S. Bach: Crucifixus from Mass in B minor, BWV 232

7. Organization of Texture and Text: Caldara: Crucifixus a 16 Voci

8. A Semiotic Analysis: Bertoni: Crucifixus con Organo a 4 Voci

9. A Rhetorical Analysis: Zelenka: Crucifixus from Missa Paschalis ZWV 7

10. Textual Influence: Vivaldi: Crucifixus from Credo RV 591

11. Constraints of Style: Lotti: Crucifixus Settings for Six and Ten Voices

12. Orchestral Practice and Cricifixus Conventions: Mozart, Haydn, and Beyond.

V

Summary

13. The Crucifixus Tradition: Patterns of Influence and Modes of Transmission

14. General Overview

Appendixes

Bibliography

General Index

Musical Index

The Crucifixion in Music: An Analytical Survey of Settings of the Crucifixus between 1680 and 1800 by Jasmin Melissa Cameron. (= Contextual Bach Studies, no.1)
'it opens our horizon to see a wider range of issues in perspective'
'it opens our horizon to see a wider range of issues in perspective'

For this work Cameron examines 102 different settings of ‘Crucifixus’ — a small section or movement from the Credo of the Mass Ordinary — that were composed between 1680 and 1800 in Italy, Austria, and southern Germany, and Bach’s Crucifixus from the B-minor Mass was studied as one of the highlights. Her decision to focus on this section of the Mass is an excellent one: theologically it is the Christological core of the liturgical Credo, and musically its expressive potential was well recognized even in the eighteenth century. Seeing that ‘it contains far greater potential for musical word painting and direct expression of the text’ (p.3), she successfully argues how the composers of the time used rhetorical devices to support the expression of the text, and in doing so, she adds her voice to the discussion of how tactfully Bach adapted the opening chorus of Cantata 12 ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’ (composed in 1714) in the B-minor Mass (compiled in 1748-49), which is probably the most detailed discussion of Bach’s parody procedure of this movement ever published.

Some of the most illuminating contributions come from her findings that pose additional questions for future research. For example, her detailed analysis of wide-ranging sources that span more than a century paints interesting pictures of how widely some of the compositional ideas and parameters such as length, segregation of movements, tempo, scoring, form, and style were shared or not shared by the featured composers. From the examination of musical aspects alone, it is impossible to draw satisfactory answers as to why these similarities or dissimilarities occurred. In discussing ‘modes of transmission’ (p.216-21), she recognizes appropriately numerous other burning issues that are not addressed in the present study, which needs to be addressed in future. For me the most valuable part of Cameron’s study is the way in which she made use of such a large body of primary sources she consulted. With her new and more representative statistical information, she was able to measure the tendency of how various compositional parameters in the Crucifixus were understood by the composers at the time. As many of these sources have not yet been made available in the printed editions, it is useful to have selected settings typeset and reproduced in Appendixes as well.

Although there are countless other points to be added to this wish list, it is fair to say that Cameron’s work opens our horizon to see a wider range of issues in perspective, allowing us to see ‘what to do next’ towards our better understanding of the subject. It is this positive attitude to scholarship that emerges most powerfully in Cameron’s study. To me it seems that the Contextual Bach Studies have a bright and vibrant future.

Published online on 2 May 2007