By Dom Gregory Murrii, 0.S.8.
GREGORIAN CHANT. by With Apel (Burns Oates, 84s.).
T"E present year will surely go
down as a vintage year in the history of Gregorian chant studies, especially for English readers. Already it has witnessed the publication of Fr. Vollaerts's "Rhythrale Proportions in Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Chant", an epochmaking book which has unquestionably opened the way to the correct performance of the chant.
Now comes a monumental treatise of a different kind, in some sense complementary to that of Fr. Vollacrts.
Dr. Apel's reputation as a musicologist is such that, when it became known that he was preparing a work on Gregorian chant, expectations ran high. Justifiably so, as the event proves, for the outcome is a book in every way worthy both of its author and of its subject.
IN dealing with the rhythmic problem, of course. Dr. Apel * was labouring under the disadvantage of not having seen Fr. Vollaerts's book. Here, therefore, his treatment is incomplete and inconclusive. But his main concern is not so much with practical performance as with systematic melodic and stylistic analysis.
Having traced the structure of the liturgical year and the daily liturgical offices, he passes to an examination of some general as pects of the chant, its verbal texts,
notation and tonality. Then. after 4setting the stage (so to speak), he
provides the reader with the enthralling experience of witnessing a detailed analysis of all the various kinds of chant. from the simplest recitative to the most ornate melody.
Practically the whole of what
must always remain the greatest corpus of pure melody in musical history is passed in review, and the treatment reveals a scholar whose painstaking thoroughness is matched only by his critical insight.
I find it difficult to believe that this magnificent study could ever be superseded. Henceforth it must he regarded as an essential guide through the complicated maze of melodic and stylistic variety within the Gregorian chant, just as Fr. Vollaerts's book gives its the clue to its proper performance.