The biggest scandal in music publishing

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John Ruggero
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The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by John Ruggero »

Suppose someone told you that there was a large collection of keyboard music of the highest level by a well-known and esteemed composer, comparable to the best keyboard works of other great composers, which after several centuries is still not available in a good, complete edited edition. That would be very difficult to believe, would it not? After all, how many editions are there of Beethoven's sonatas? Mozart's? etc.

Yet this incredible situation does exist and strikes me every few years when I again take on the project of playing through Domenico Scarlatti's 555 piano sonatas. This is an exercise I recommend to every keyboard player. It brings one into contact with music of an almost inexhaustible keyboard imagination, comparable only to Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, and possibly surpassing them all in shear hutzpah. The greatness of Scarlatti's achievement is only fully grasped when one has experienced playing all of the sonatas; excerpts just don't do it justice.

Since Scarlatti's time there have been numerous edited editions of selected sonatas, and exactly TWO complete editions. The first is the over-edited and bowdlerized 19th century edition by Longo, long ago discredited. The second is the late 20th century critical edition by Kenneth Gilbert without fingering or practical help that is now available to non-US citizens free at IMSLP. I have the Gilbert, which is in 11 volumes and has an astronomical price tag that puts it beyond the range of most players. (I was lucky enough to have purchased most of the volumes many years ago at a reduced price.)

Will someone please produce a good, reasonably-priced complete edition of one of the glories of music?
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Harpsichordmaker
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by Harpsichordmaker »

John, it’s a pity very few people outside the harpsichord world (and even inside the harpsichord world) do know the Fadini Edition (Ricordi publ.).
Emilia Fadini was an Italian scholar and harpsichordist who dedicated her life to Scarlatti and to concerts and teaching (most of the nouvelle vague of italian harpsichordists come from Fadini).
The complete edition initial plan was in 10 volumes but a handful of new sonatas have come to the light in the last few years so the general editor added a 11th volume still to be published. The volume 10 has just been published a few months ago.
The first 8 volumes were edited by Emilia Fadini alone, the 9th by Fadini with Marco Moiraghi, the 10th by Marco Moiraghi alone. Emilia Fadini passed away a couple months ago.

I hesitate to define the Gilbert edition “critical” as any variants and history of the manuscript tradition is missing. In fact the restitutio textus of the Scarlatti sonatas is far from being simple, as the manuscripts are many and the variants - even important author’s variants - are a whole lot.
All of this variants, manuscripts, antique editions etc, are recorded in the Fadini edition, which is indeed a true critical edition.
The price is fairly low for such a philological accomplishment, about 40 euros (45$) a volume. I think the Gilbert is about double than that.
I’m sure you would appreciate that the Fadini edition retains the notation style of the originals while the Gilbert modernize it. If you wish I could comment deeper on this and other subjects, I could provide some photos as well.

I warmly second what you wrote about Scarlatti music.
(I am a harpsichordist)
Domenico Statuto

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John Ruggero
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by John Ruggero »

Thanks for your astute comments, harpsichordmaker.

I had come upon the Fadini edition online quite a few years ago, but at that point it was incomplete and seemed to be in difficulty, and so I lost track of it. That is wonderful news that it is now almost complete.

Yes, the Gilbert is not a real critical edition. While beautifully engraved, the notation is modernized, and the critical notes are sparse at the back; nothing like what you describe in the Fadini, which I am now excited to purchase.

You were very nice and didn't mention that I slipped and wrote "piano" instead of "keyboard" sonatas at one point, for which I apologize to all harpsichordists. These sonatas sound wonderful on the harpsichord for which they were written, and I think also on the piano. I believe that I have read that Scarlatti had an early fortepiano at his disposal.

Is the Fadini also a practical edition? Scarlatti wrote so well for the keyboard that the expected fingering is largely obvious, but not entirely so. And does it supply the badly needed information about the realization of Scarlatti's ornamentation and other symbols?
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John Ruggero
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by John Ruggero »

I just checked on the Fadini edition, which looks like an excellent critical edition. Ricordi says that it is free from editorial suggestions etc. so what is still needed is a complete, well-edited, urtext edition at a reasonable price. Something like what is available for the complete works of all the other major keyboard composers.
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Harpsichordmaker
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by Harpsichordmaker »

John Ruggero wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 13:58
I just checked on the Fadini edition, which looks like an excellent critical edition. Ricordi says that it is free from editorial suggestions etc. so what is still needed is a complete, well-edited, urtext edition at a reasonable price. Something like what is available for the complete works of all the other major keyboard composers.
Yes, it lacks fingering and editorial dynamics (which is welcome to me) as well as other "interpretative" additions, while it does have all those needed editorial suggestions such as dotted ties or slurs, missing notes or dots in square brackets and so on.

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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by John Ruggero »

I too am glad that it doesn't have added dynamics and such, but I think that inexperienced players do need fingering, and all players need suggestions for interpreting the symbolized ornaments and other signs that are unique to Scarlatti.
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Harpsichordmaker
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by Harpsichordmaker »

Yes, I agree. Though, Scarlatti hasn't so many ornament signs, just a longer or shorter "shake" (the usual pralltriller or mordant). Nothing comparable to the French's or Bach's tables of ornaments. Its meaning is to be imagined as we have no table of ornaments, and it seems more than likely that in different situations the same sign has to be played differently. Sometimes the shake just seems to suggest "do something to embellish, whatever you wish provided it's with gusto".

As for the fingerings, yes, sure. But for who? We harpsichordists can't use the fingered Henle editions for Bach, for example, because the fingering is so often different on the harpsichord keyboard than on the piano keyboard (which the Henle is aimed to) - shorter and smaller keys, much lighter keys, and so on). And then there is the issue of the "historical fingering" (less thumb, arm shifting, no under- o over-thumb passage, same finger on consecutive notes...), which admittedly is a less sensible issue for Scarlatti than for - say - Frescobaldi or Couperin or Cabezon, but still is an issue.
However I agree with you, Ricordi should publish a double version, fingered and unfingered, just as Henle does for their Bach edition.

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John Ruggero
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by John Ruggero »

There are also the variously notated appoggiaturas, the word "tremolo" that he writes above long notes, and the squiggly line after certain notes as well as variously notated trills, all of which need to adapt to those "different situations". No easy task for the inexperienced. Regarding his compound trills, It is very interesting how he writes out many of the trill prefixes to start pre-downbeat.

If you think that the fingering would differ so extensively for harpsichord and piano, I would vote for three versions, then, one unfingered, one prepared by an expert harpsichordist and one by an expert pianist, musicians who have performed the sonatas extensively.

Incidentally, many pianists also have trouble with the Henle fingering and not just for the music of J. S. Bach.
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Romanos401
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by Romanos401 »

I really can’t imagine why you’d need fingering markings in a scholarly edition unless they were placed there but the composer for specific figures.

If anyone is seriously interested in having the complete works of Scarlatti, they are well-beyond editorial fingerings unless it has the specific aim of teaching historical fingering technique (and even then…).

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John Ruggero
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Re: The biggest scandal in music publishing

Post by John Ruggero »

Romanos401 wrote:
25 Jun 2021, 21:36
I really can’t imagine why you’d need fingering markings in a scholarly edition unless they were placed there but the composer for specific figures.

If anyone is seriously interested in having the complete works of Scarlatti, they are well-beyond editorial fingerings unless it has the specific aim of teaching historical fingering technique (and even then…).

I am asking for a good URTEXT edition of all of Scarlatti's sonatas for the same reasons that there are urtext editions of the keyboard music of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann etc. Urtext editions (as opposed to critical editions) ALWAYS include fingering.

It is not a question of buying the complete works of Scarlatti. Suppose someone wants to learn Scarlatti Sonata no. x which is 3 minutes in duration and which exists in none of the several collections of edited sonatas. Their only recourse at present is buy one of the volumes of the two available scholarly editions at 50.00 or 100.00 a pop. And there is no fingering or other editorial aid regarding ornamentation etc. which they may well need, since many of the sonatas are played by intermediate players.

The net result of the lack of access to these wonderful keyboard pieces is that many of them languish, unknown to most players and a few are played to death. The situation thus perpetuates itself as people assume, incorrectly, that only the famous ones are worth playing. Most of the 555 Scarlatti sonatas are masterpieces.
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