A little-known source for Baroque music for flute and recorder – Versailles Mus. Ms. 116
The wave of digitized primary sources available from the great library collections around the world means that musicians increasingly can make music from unmediated facsimiles of manuscripts and prints formerly accessible only to scholars, and which do not pass through the various stages of publication which also served to help connect materials with those who might be interested in them – publication, advertising, reviews, the music and book trade. A source which may be of general interest is the Mus. Ms. 116 held at the BibliothèqueMunicipale de Versailles, and available for free download from the library's website, or via the Gallica site of the National Library of France (gallica.bnf.fr). It has been online since July 20091, but remains generally unknown, perhaps since the cataloging for the item gives little information about its contents, with simply a title noting that it is a "Recueil de piecesinstrumentals pour un, deux, ou trois dessus avec ou sans basse de différents auteurs" [Collection of instrumental works for one, two or three trebles with or without continuo, by various authors], and a note which observes that it "probably comes from the library of James II, King of Great Britain".
Indeed, these works are for "dessus" (a general name for a treble part, which might be played by violin, recorder, oboe, transverse flute, as one finds in such collections as the Pieces en Trio by Marais of 1692, where the parts are labeled 1re and 2me dessus). However, as is the case with the Marais and some other collections, the range of the parts is such that they may be played particularly by recorders (in some cases) and/or transverse flutes (in others), since the lowest range of the violin is not called for.
The source apparently comes from the personal musicians of the exiled James II, who, after losing the English throne due to insurrection by the English nobility, spent the remaining years of his life living in the royal chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where he died in 1701. His son, James III of England and VIII of Scotland, and his grandson, Charles ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") continued to attempt to re-establish the legitimate Stewart line on the throne of Great Britain, with the last venture being defeated in 17452.
The 82-page manuscript is beautifully copied, with the pages carefully numbered, and each piece beginning with an ornamental capital. The contents are clearly divided into several sections.
The first section (pp. 1-28) consists of seven sonatas for two unnamed treble parts, with no composers given for any of the works. All the treble parts use the "French violin" clef, with G on the bottom line of the staff.
Sonata [in C], pp. 1-5 - [no marking]; Grave; Allegro; Adagio-Presto; Grave
Sonata [in C], pp. 6-10 - [no marking]; Presto; Grave; Prestissimo; Adagio; Poco Largo
Sonata [in d minor], pp. 11- 13 - Grave; Allegro; Vivace; Adagio; Largo
Sonata [in B-flat], pp. 14- 17. - Allegro; Largo; Adagio; [no marking]; Largo; Prestissimo
Sonata [in G], pp. 18-21 - [no marking]; Adagio; Vivace; Presto
Sonata [in D], pp. 22- 26 - Allegro; Adagio; Presto; Allegro; Adagio; Prestissimo
Sonata [in F], pp. 26- Allegro; Allegro
The parts range from a low F to a top E and E-flat, so they would be equally comfortable for either recorders or tranverse flutes. The style is Italian, with no infiltration of French idioms.
The second section consists of two sonatas for three trebles, the first without continuo by InnocenzoFede, the second with continuo, by IgnazioPulici.
Ouverture [in C], pp. 29-33, "Del Sig.re Inn. Fede"
Ouverture – Allegro; Sarabanda; Gavotta
Sinfonia a tre flauti [in C, with continuo], pp. 34-41 "Del Sig.re D. IgnatioPulici".
Largo; Allegro; Largo; Adagio; [Giga? – no marking]
Here the Ouverture is an approximation to the French style, with rhythms that could be overdotted in the first section, and two dance movements to conclude. The first of the three flauto parts (which presumably means flauto dolce here) is clearly the soloist, and is so marked in the concluding fast movement.
After a seemingly extraneous movement found on p. 42 ("Sortez des vastesmers", for two parts in French violin clef and soprano clef, the latter presumably vocal in origin, though no text is given), the third section begins after three numbered blank pages (pp. 43-45)
This is a set of seven works (pp. 46-82) for treble part and continuo, all with composers given.
[Sonata in g minor] "Del Sig.re Clerk" [Jeremiah Clarke], pp. 46-52
Plainte, Lentement; Air Ecosois; Entrée; Bourée; Sarabande; Petit plainte.Lentement; Gigue
Here the range clearly suggests the transverse flute (low D- B-flat), or perhaps the oboe. The presence of the opening "plainte" (lament) followed b the Scottish air suggest a direct connection with James II in exile.
[Sonata in B-flat] "Del Sig.re God. Finger", pp. 53-57.
Prelude – Grave – [unmarked]; Air; Sarabande; Rondeau; Chaconne
The range is even narrower than the preceding piece (low F-B-flat), and the sustained characterof the writing, with no fast passagework, suggests that an oboe would be effective, though it would be playable on treble recorder.
Sinfonie [in g minor] "Du Sieur Gautier" , pp. 58-65
Sinfonie; Gigue, gay; [unmarked]; Les plaisirs du Sieur Gautier; Les heuresheureuses du Sr. Gautier; Gigue en rondeau
The range (low D-high C) and tonality suggests the tranverse flute. The two titled movements are both clearly dance forms, with the first ("Les plaisirs" ) using the characteristic rhythmic patterns of the sarabande, and the latter ("Les heures") apparently a minuet. The two gigues (the first in 6/4, the second in 6/8) both have the dotted rhythms of the "Canaries". It is interesting to note that "Les plaisirs" is found as the second movement of an otherwise entirely different suite by Gautier, this one a work for trio found in the manuscript Bibliothèquenationale de France, RES-F-9183, which combines the treble and bass parts found here with an additional second treble part. In addition, virtually all the passages noted as equal eighth notes in the version for two parts are noted as dotted eighths plus sixteenths (that is "inégal" or unequal rhythms) in the trio version. This particular movement is also found in the posthumous publication of "Symphonies de feuMr Gaultier de Marseille ;divisées par suites de tons". Paris : Christophe Ballard, 1707
[Sonata in d minor] "Del Sig.re G. Finger", pp. 66-71
Prelude – [unmarked]; Air; [unmarked]; Air; Bourée; Gigue
Here the range and tonality (low F- high C) suggest the recorder. The first movement is a French overture, with an initial section allabreve opening with a pompous triadic motif leading to an imitative (and presumably quicker) section in 6/4. The third movement is clearly a minuet, and the fourth possibly a gavotte.
Sonata [in d minor] "Del Sig.re Paisible" , pp. 71-75, - [unmarked]; Vivace; Rondeau; Grave; [Giga?]
Sonata [in F] "Del Sig.re Paisible" , pp. 76-75, - Vivace; Allegro; Adagio; [unmarked]
These sonatas are both particularly characteristic of music for the recorder, with a range (low F- high e) and tonality that take advantage of its best qualities, particularly the sixteenth-note passagework in the upper register.
Sonata di Camera "Del Sig.re Inn. Fede", pp. 80-82
The low tesssitura (ranging from low E to B-flat) and the use of the low G-sharp would seem to suggest the oboe for this work, though the flute would also be feasible.
Modern editions have been published of several of the works in the manuscript. The pieces by Clarke and Gautier and the Sonata di Camera were edited by Pierre Boragno for a publication issued by Leduc in 2000. Boragno also edited the work by Pulici for Les Caheiers du Tourdion (Strasbourg, 2000) and the Fede trio for Delrieu (Paris, 2004). I understand that the Paisible sonatas as well as the Fede sonatas will be appearing in the near future in an edition by David Lasocki. To my knowledge the anonymous duos have not been republished. The manuscript is so clear that the only barrier to using it for performance would be an unfamiliarity with the French violin clef, which is easily learned, since the pitch-names are the same as those for the bass clef (but two octaves higher).
The works of JacquesPaisible and Finger are reasonably familiar to modern musicians through the editions of their works including the recorder; those of Clarke, Gautier, Fede, and Pulici much less so. InnocenzoFede was an Italian tenor and organist who was hired for James II Catholic chapel in 1686, and went to Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1689. In addition to his musical duties, he tutored the young prince in Italian. Paisible was also a member of James II's musical establishment, and lived at Saint-Germain-en-Laye from 1689 to 1693. Clarke was a pupil of John Blow, and is known almost exclusively for his Prince of Denmark's March, formerly attributed to Purcell. The Sieur Gautier represented here is apparently Pierre Gaultier of Marseille (ca. 1642-1697). IgnazioPollice is a particularly obscure figure, apparently active predominantly in Palermo, Sicily as a composer of vocal music in the early eighteenth century.
2. Details regarding James II in exile are to be found in the 'A Court in Exile: The Stuarts in France, 1689-1718', by Edward Corp, Cambridge University Press, 2004