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The motet around 1500 : on the relationship of imitation and text treatment ?
Schmidt-Beste Thomas (éd.)
Turnhout, Brepols Publishers, 2012
Collection Épitome musical
ISBN 978-2-503-52566-2, 569 pages, 190 x 290
In an article published in 1979, Ludwig Finscher defined imitation and text treatment as the main parameters of the stylistic shift he detected in motet composition around 1500, and Josquin Desprez as the composer whose works embodied them most clearly. This volume of twenty-five essays by leading Renaissance musicologists – based on a conference which took place in Bangor (Wales) in 2007 – takes stock of developments in motet research in the intervening three decades. It does focus considerable attention on text treatment and compositional technique (texture and cantus firmus manipulation as much as imitation in the strict sense), but also on questions such as regional repertoires (such as Bohemia and Spain), manuscripts (such as the ‘Medici Codex’), and semantic aspects (devotion, symbolism etc.). Josquin’s oeuvre, while still the focus of several essays, is contextualized through studies on composers as diverse as Regis, Busnoys, Obrecht, Févin, Moulu, Gascongne, Gaffurio, Martini, and Senfl. Although there are still many questions to be answered about the motet around 1500 – a period which, according to Joshua Rifkin, is like a ‘black hole’ for the genre given the lack of extant works, ascriptions, and stylistic consistency – the volume is an important step forward in exploring and understanding this crucial repertoire.

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