Me and my big mouth …
Minutes ago somebody posted in the Fb HARPSICHORD group a recording of Forqueray’s La Daubonne played by Mencoboni.
This is one of those very few pieces where the composer specified everything, including all sorts of ornaments and, for every single chord, whether it is to be arpeggiated upwards or downwards, and which hand has to play first. Forqueray also emphasises that his is not just a suggestion, but how each chord “should be played”. In many cases these signs go against what we would believe “natural”.
So far so good.
Then I hear Mencoboni’s recording, while I follow it with my good old Heugel edition by Colin Tilney, page 74. To my horror I see that Mencoboni arpeggiates most of the left hand chords the wrong way. So I write a comment on Fb criticising poor Mencoboni not just for a fully unmeasured performance (which is surely not how a Sarabande is to be played), but mainly for playing all the chords the wrong way around in spite of the very clear indications by Forqueray!
Then I go to YouTube to hear other recordings: Gustav Leonhardt, Christophe Rousset, Michael Borgstede. To my astonishment, not two of them play the chords in the same way, and I will shortly investigate this further.
What’s worst, however, is that they all appear to be playing wrongly all the chords in the first section. In the score they all have the slash in the upper stem, implying a downward arpeggio, but everybody arpeggiates them upwards. At this point I just did not understand what was going on.
Interestingly, Tilney’s edition also carries a facsimile of the original, just after the titlepage. So I looked at it. Now I understood: the edition has reproduced all those arpeggio signs wrongly!
Luckily I was able to delete my previous Fb post before anybody called me names, I apologised and explained what happened.
I thought I could trust my former teacher Tilney and Heugel.
Well I have learned a hard lesson.
The original score is crammed and very hard to read.
Have now to decide whether to correct the 100+ pages by hand or to buy a good edition . . .
Me and my big mouth …
Just out of curiosity, I checked Tilney’s facsimile with the download I have: they are absolutely coincidental. I rechecked against Tilney’s edition: the errors affect most of the left hand chords, reversing most olf them throughout the first 15 bars of the piece: the remaining 14 bars are correct. This is very strange indeed … Perhaps two copyists at work, one good and one bad, and Tilney failing to perform a final check?
Is it only the Tilney edition that is incorrect? Does everybody Claudio mentioned use other editions that are accurate? Or did they have to consult the facsimile also?
Good question David. No idea which editions did the others use. There were not many, so possibly they used the facsimile and followed it … mostly! Or perhaps some old edition (Oiseau-Lyre?)? Googling has not been too helpful so far.
From what I read in the foreword, it seems that these changes are a
deliberate choice on Colin Tilney’s part:
TABLE A is from Rameau’s second book of harpsichord pieces (1724) ;
Forqueray does not use
Rameau’s double (turn) or arpegement figure (decorated arpeggio). Only
one sign for
arpeggio occurs ( / ). A stroke of this kind through an upward-pointing
an arpeggio downwards, has for the sake of greater clarity been changed
back in this edition
to Rameau’s original sign ( \ )
Le 31/01/2022 23:28, Claudio Di Veroli via The Jackrail écrit :
Thanks for your suggestion, Dennis, but I am afraid this is not the case.
On p. XIV of Tilney’s edition , Table des Agréments (following Ramerau 1724), the upward arpeggio is shown with the slash below (and pointing up), while the downward arpeggio is shown with the slash above (and pointing up).
Collating with other sources I see that the important feature is where the slash is located, not which way it points (up or down).
Collating the table with Forqueray’s edition this is obvious: his slashes are ALL upwards! Therefore if the direction of the slash had a meaning, slashes would be useless: all chords would be arpeggiated upwards! It is obvious that he is following indeed Rameau’s (and many others’) convention: what matters is where the slash is located, and in this sense Forqueray is very consistent.
Tilney’s edition of La Daubonne instead is not: he mostly keeps Forqueray’s upwards direction, but arbitrarily changes the all-important slash position, and does this up to bar 15. From then onwards Tilney follows the original!
These are the main shortcomings of Tilney’s La Daubonne, but there is more. He fails to properly reproduce the alignment in some chords. For example, in bar 15, the first note in the bass, an F, is correctly reproduced with the slash below (meaning arpeggio upwards) but the note is written a good 3mm after the d, meaning the reverse! In the original the two notes are a normal 2-note upward arpeggiate chord, perfectly aligned.
By the way, Dennis, you mention that Tilney says something about this matter in the Foreword. I cannot find it! Thanks.
Le 01/02/2022 11:50, Claudio Di Veroli via The Jackrail écrit :
By the way, Dennis, you mention that Tilney says something about this
matter in the Foreword. I cannot find it! Thanks.
I mean in the front matter of the edition (after the ornament tables);
it’s the passage I quoted, and that I reproduce here (page XV):
“TABLE A is from Rameau’s second book of harpsichord pieces (1724) ;
Forqueray does not use Rameau’s double (turn) or arpegement figure
(decorated arpeggio). Only one sign for arpeggio occurs ( / ). A stroke
of this kind through an upward-pointing stem, meaning an arpeggio
downwards, has for the sake of greater clarity been changed back in this
edition to Rameau’s original sign ( \ ) .”
My point is that some of Forqueray’s arpeggio signs have been
deliberately changed by Colin Tilney.
Well spotted Dennis thanks!
You are correct: Tilney’s explanation is utterly confusing. Prima facie he appears to have changed Forqueray’s convention (arpeggio shown by slash position, slash always pointing upwards) by Rameau Tab le’s convention (arpeggio shown by slash position, confirmed by the way it is pointing).
Unfortunately, Tilney is actually using a third convention: only the direction of the slash is relevant!
Accordingly, and for unfathomed reasons, he changes all the slashes up to bar 15, but he leaves them as per the original from then onwards. Very confusing indeed.
I agree. He reverses the slashes for descending arpeggios so they agree
with the direction of the arpeggio (and follow the D’Anglebert-Rameau
convention), as he says in the front matter. This choice could make
sense. But then he also changes the stemming of some of the chords
(using only one stem instead of two), and hence the position of the
slashes - starting with the very first, but doesn’t say anything about
this. This was definitely not a good idea, because if you read Tilney’s
score with Forqueray’s convention, you get the reverse (as you rightly
pointed out) of what he wanted. Moreover, it is much easier to sightread
if the arpeggio sign is on the (stem of the) first note you need to
play, and not on the last. There seems to be no logic in the number of
I wonder what Forqueray wanted on the first beat of 24, with two
Le 01/02/2022 12:32, Claudio Di Veroli via The Jackrail écrit :
Correct. As for the first beat of 24, a very deliberate sign, I guess Forqueray meant arpegio up and down. Why first up? Because on bar 25, although there is no slash, the chord is best arpeggiated upwards, so that the following 3 small notes are a continuation of sorts.
Want more inconsistencies? Tilney reads a misalignment in the last beat of bar 27, and he prints the l.h. after the r.h.: so we have an upwards arpeggio played after the r.h. note, not a nice effect. In the original the misalignment (elsewhere very deliberate when Forqueray means it) is barely perceptible, probably just an engraving inaccuracy: it is apparent that the r.h. note is aligned, thus part of the arpeggio, to be played after the l.h., not before!