Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Twentieth-Century Countertenor Repertoire: A Guide

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Twentieth-Century Countertenor Repertoire: A Guide

Article excerpt

Steven L. Rickards, Twentieth-Century Countertenor Repertoire: A Guide. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008. Cloth, xv, 400 pp., $100.00. ISBN 13: 978-8108-6103-9, ISBN 10: 0-8108-6103-8. www.scarecrowpress.com

Alfred Deller played an important role in the resurgence of countertenor singing in the twentieth century. The British countertenor revitalized interest in the Fach both through his own performances and by founding the Deller Consort in 1950. In recognition of Deller's influence, author Steven Rickards chose the year the ensemble was founded as a starting point for Twentieth-Century Countertenor Repertoire. The volume is a catalogue of more than 600 pieces for countertenor that were written in the last half of the twentieth century.

The entries are arranged alphabetically by the name of the composer, with each piece assigned a reference number. Every entry is a complete reference in itself; each includes the dates and nationality of the composer, even if multiple works are listed in the book. Multimovement works, such as song cycles, share one number, with lower case letters that designate individual songs. In addition to the title and medium (such as song, opera, or duet), the citation lists the author of the text, language, instrumentation, voicing (if other voices are involved), range, tessitura, approximate length, year of composition, publisher, and availability. Each entry cites who, if any one, commissioned the work and who sang the premiere. Finally, brief comments-most written by Rickards, but some from other sources-describe the piece in general and its overall level of difficulty.

Sixteen appendixes enhance the usefulness of the volume. Rickards offers cross-indexes by title and by author, and by a staggering number of permutations: without accompaniment, with single, two, three, four, or five accompanying instruments, with six or more accompanying instruments, works for multiple voices with and without accompaniment, chamber works, cantatas, oratorios, choral and orchestral works, operas and theatrical works, and song cycles. …

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