Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2003.
Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) is regarded as the greatest French poet-composer of the middle ages, as he was during his lifetime. A trained secretary, with a passion for collecting, copying and ordering his own work, the number of surviving notated musical works attributed to him far exceeds that of any of his contemporaries. All the main genres of song – lais, virelais, balades, and rondeaux – together with Machaut’s motets, and his famous Mass cycle are considered here from a variety of perspectives. These incorporate the latest scholarly understanding of both Machaut’s poetry and music, and the material form they take when notated in the surviving manuscripts. The book thus presents a detailed picture of the current range of interpretative approaches to Machaut’s music, focusing variously on counterpoint,musica ficta, text setting, musico-poetic meanings, citation and intertextuality, tonality, and compositional method. Several of Machaut’s works are discussed by a pair of contributors, who reach conclusions at times mutually reinforcing or complementary, at times contradictory and mutually exclusive. That Machaut’s music thrives on such constructive debate and disagreement is a tribute to his scope as an artist, and his musico-poetic achievement.
Jennifer Bain, Margaret Bent, Christian Berger, Jacques Boogaart, Thomas Brown, Alice V. Clark, Jane E. Flynn, Jehoash Hirshberg, Karl Kügle, Elizabeth Eva Leach, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Peter M. Lefferts, William Peter Mahrt, Kevin N. Moll, Virginia Newes, Yolanda Plumley, Owen Rees, Anne Stone
JENNIFER SWINGER THOMAS, THE RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY60 (2007), 976-8.
This sophisticated, penetrating, lucid collection promises to ripple through musicological approaches to music of earlier and later periods and of Machaut’s contemporaries. Many essays will infiltrate the classroom because of systematic and illuminating organization and content…. This collection emulates Machaut’s own masterful counterpoint.
[A] useful collection that gathers current discourses and debates into one convenient volume. In the diversity of views expressed and the consequential issues attendant upon them, it offers much to occupy the mind. It stands as a stimulating point of departure for anyone entering the field or wishing to survey directions in Machaut research.
[A] welcome new addition to Machaut bibliography…. take[s] important steps towards a fuller appreciation of the richness of compositional thought at this time…. much to interest the specialist…no less accessible to the general reader.
A strong point of this volume is its cohesiveness…. In sum, this very rich collection offers an overview of Machaut’s musical corpus, combining in-depth examination of particular pieces and critical issues with an extremely wide-ranging coverage. It has much to offer to all Machaut scholars, regardless of their particular field of expertise.
…immensely thought-provoking and should be present on the shelves of any institution teaching and researching the music of the late middle ages.
MARK SEELEY, CLASSICAL NET 2009: read full review here.