Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764)
From the Source to the Edition
An example from the edition may serve to illustrate the relevance of editorial work to the world of musical performance.
Second edition of the full score, used in the performances of 1733 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Rés. 1079, pp. 83-4). This source contains the original version of the second trio of the Fates with the chromatic modulations beginning at “Où cours-tu malheureux?
The third edition, which was used for the performances of 1733, 1742, 1757 and posthumous productions, contains a large number of corrections, paper overpastes, and revisions (Paris, Bibliothèque – Musée de l’Opéra, Rés. A. 128 a, pp. 83 [83bis]).
Fourth edition of the full score (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds du Conservatoire, Rés. 1234, pp. 83–4). This source contains the autograph of the second trio of the Fates in its revised version, written in fair copy and divested of its chromatic enharmonic modulations.
Our edition publishes the complete version with the parts (viola) issued in a further source (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, F Pn Vm2. 325). The controversial version of this trio, in which Rameau experimented with the principle of enharmonic modulation, was retained in the later editions of the music. In 1737 Rameau expressed himself in terms that betray his bitterness at the deletion of the modulating passages:
“In the second trio of the Fates, in our opera ‘Hippolyte et Aricie’, we discovered a means of inserting a song in an enharmonic diatonic style for which we held out high expectations in this context. But although some of the singers proved capable of adopting this style, not all did so in equal measure, so that things which can sound most beautiful when executed to perfection become unbearable when this perfection is lacking. For this reason, we had to alter this passage for the theatre, but have left it in the print in the form originally envisaged, so that the curious may form their own opinion of it [...].” (Rameau, Génération harmonique, Paris, Prault et fils, 1737, S. 154–155)