Composers' Intentions?

Composers' Intentions?

Lost Traditions of Musical Performance

Andrew Parrott


Boydell Press



Essays on musical performance practice by an acknowledged expert in the field.
These selected essays by conductor Andrew Parrott reflect the thinking behind some four decades of his ground-breaking performances and recordings. Bringing together seminal writings on the performance expectations of, amongst others, Monteverdi, Purcell and J. S. Bach, this volume also includes the full version of a major new article calling into question the presumed historical place of the 'countertenor' voice. Focusing primarily on vocal and choral matters, the time span is broad (some five centuries) and the essays multifarious (from extensive scholarly articles to radio broadcasts). Authoritative, provocative and readable, Parrott's writing is packed with information of value to scholars, performers, students and curious listeners alike.

ANDREW PARROTT is the founder and director of the Taverner Consort, Choir and Players. His book The Essential Bach Choir (The Boydell Press, 2000) has been acclaimed as 'a brilliant piece of research' (BBC Radio 3); 'utterly fascinating' (Gramophone); and 'a document which will itself no doubt be a subject of study for years to come' (Times Literary Supplement).


July 2015
17 black and white, 50 line illustrations
421 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781783270323
Format: Paperback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BIC AVGC3, 1D, 2AB, 3J
BISAC MUS006000, MUS008000
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Table of Contents

Composers' Intentions, Performers' Responsibilities
A Brief Anatomy of Choirs
Falsetto Beliefs: The 'countertenor' cross-examined
Falsetto and the French: 'une toute autre marche'
Transposition in Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610: An 'aberration' defended
Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 Revisited
Monteverdi: Onwards and downwards
High Clefs and down-to-earth Transposition: A brief defence of Monteverdi
Performing Purcell
How many singers?
Vocal Ripienists and J. S. Bach's Mass in B minor
Bach's Chorus: The Leipzig line
J. S. Bach's Trauer-Music for Prince Leopold: Clarification and reconstruction
Performing Machaut's Mass on record - Review
'Grett and solompne singing': Instruments in English church music before the Civil War
Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - performance notes
Purcell's Dido & Aeneas on record - Radio Review
'Hail! bright Cecilia' (Purcell at 350) - Radio Essay


This volume contains a great deal of food for thought for performers of all kinds, both vocal and instrumental. THE CONSORT

A collection of Andrew Parrott's writings ... is bound to be something out of the ordinary, and this book does not disappoint. Its erudition, energy and thoroughness are staggering, and its vehemence in supporting important musicological theses results in a wonderful resource for anyone thinking further about its topics. THE MUSICAL TIMES

An incalculably valuable contribution to some of the most important debates in early music ... an immensely important book, one that demands to be read by all who practise early music. EARLY MUSIC TODAY>BR>
One of the leading members of a particularly influential generation of musician/scholars ... Parrott remains an essential component of the early music world. Hence the importance of his latest book; (T)his eminently approachable and readable book will appeal to a wide variety of readers; (E)ssential reading for performing musicians, and a very worthwhile addition to the knowledge base of the listening public...virtually anyone playing, enjoying or studying will find it invaluable. EARLY MUSIC REVIEW

This generous and impressive volume'; a 'handsome and affordable paperback edition, one which will do much to stimulate debate in early music'; 'unity of purpose and clarity of message'; 'Parrott's arguments are coolly logical'; 'Parrott's theory is uncomfortably convincing'; 'The writing is buoyant, urgent and enjoyable. GRAMOPHONE

(A) provocative yet highly readable collection of writings. A delight. 4 Stars. BBC MUSIC

'Andrew Parrott belongs among those rare musicians who have never settled for easy answers but always asked the hard questions. Having his writings between two covers should prove a tonic to everyone who takes the performance of music with the seriousness it deserves.' Joshua Rifkin

'Andrew Parrott is one of the most stimulating, thought-provoking explorers of our musical past. Never content with received opinion, he has unearthed challenging evidence about a range of controversial issues from Purcell's singers to Monteverdi's pitch, exploring performing practice from Machaut to Bach, and putting that into practice in his performances. These essential collected essays demonstrate a lifetime's commitment to taking composers' intentions seriously.' Nicholas Kenyon

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