Berkshire Choral Festival
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Pronunciation of Kyrie text in Palestrina

I am working with what appears to be a reliable edition of Palestrina's Missa Brevis (Breitkopf) in which the text underlay is a bit ambiguous  (to me) in places.  
In the first entrance, the final syllable of Kyrie and the first syllable of eleison appear under the same note (a half note in this edition).  Is there a standard way of handling this?
The next to last syllable of eleison sometimes receives its own note and appears as 'i' underneath the note (first entrance of alto) and other times appears as part of 'lei' at the beginning of a melismatic passage and does not receive its own note value (second entrance of alto).
Same question.  Is there a standard, accepted way of handling the rhythmic value of the syllable 'i' when it is not clearly indicated?
on June 29, 2013 4:50am
In the first case there is no reiteration of the vowel, no glottal stroke. It is somewhat like the fluidity provided by elisions in Italian or French. It is more musical this way and the beginning of elision is implied once you hear where the second syllable comes. In the second, it is simply the composer's choice. Sometimes it is helpful and more musical or more rhythmic to define the -i- separately, and sometimes not, in which case you treat it as a mild diphthong and make the effect as natural and elegant as possible. I might say that the longer the note the more time you can give to the i. It is a subjective thing. It should not be a rhythmic value, just a beautifully done diphthong. This is one of the more telling tests of the conductors artistic sense. Practice hearing and executing a final cadence with -lei- son on long note values. With some ritard, the diphthong can feel quite long. Do not stop at any point in the collapse of the vowel on the way through the -I- to the s, otherwise you will hear the -I- as a rhythmic value. Constant, fluid flow. You will also, btw, need to decide if the s will be an s sound or a z sound. I prefer the s as the z sounds contrived, but it varies in different countries and perhaps in different time periods. Best of luck.
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