Allegri’s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel

Allegri’s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel
Graham O’Reilly
Boydell Press, Woodbridge
Hardback, 388 pages, 234x156mm, ISBN13: 978 1 78327 487 1

`Allegri`s Miserere` in the Sistine Chapel

The approach of Holy Week seems an appropriate moment to publish this rather delayed review of this study of the Allegri Miserere – one of the most loved, discussed and performed pieces of classical music. It was composed in the 1630s for the exclusive use of the Papal Choir during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel. Much of its fame comes from the story of the young Mozart transcribing it from memory after a single hearing – something that was specifically forbidden by the Vatican authorities under pain of excommunication. The Miserere that we hear performed today has little resemblance to either the original composition or the early methods of performance. This book gives a detailed and readable account of the Miserere‘s performance history in the Sistine Chapel and beyond, notably during the peak of its popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the history of the version commonly heard today – the “English Miserere”.

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Andrew Parrott. Composers’ Intentions? Lost Traditions of Musical Performance

Andrew Parrott. Composers’ Intentions? Lost Traditions of Musical Performance
The Boydell Press, 2015
Paperback. 421pp, ISBN 9781783270323

Andrew Parrott is one of the leading members of a particularly influential generation of musician/scholars who founded performing groups in the 1970s: in his case, the Taverner Consort, Choir and Players, founded in 1973 . They changed the way that we think about, perform, and listen to, ‘early’ music. Unlike many conductors who cut their teeth in the world of period performance, Andrew Parrott has retained his strong research interests, notably around the music of Bach and Monteverdi. Perhaps best known for his book, The Essential Bach Choir (published in 2000), an expansion of the theories of Joshua Rifkin that Bach’s choirs were essentially performing as one to a part, Parrott remains an essential component of the early music world. Hence the importance of his latest book: Composers’ Intentions? Lost Traditions of Musical Performance.

This important collection of previously published essays, combined with Andrew’s further reflections on aspects of period performance, Continue reading