Sinfonia in D major
ed. Paul Everett
Research over the past twenty years has revealed Giuseppe Valentini (1681–1753) to be a figure of considerable importance in early-eighteenth-century Italian music.(1) As both a violinist and a composer (of operas, oratorios and cantatas, as well as instrumental pieces), he was evidently one of the most prominent musicians active in Rome from around 1700, achieving substantial success there with his sonatas and concertos even before the death in 1713 of Arcangelo Corelli. Besides his several published collections issued in the period 1701–24, numerous instrumental works survive in manuscript, including nine preserved in Manchester (in a collection described below), twelve in the archive of the Scuole Pie di S. Pantaleo, Rome, and six in Dresden.(2) Working often in a freelance capacity, Valentini received patronage in Rome from various churches and important persons, many of whom were connected with the Arcadian Academy. Most pertinent to the sinfonia presented here is his association, notably in the 1720s, with the court of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667–1740).(3)
To the best of my knowledge, the only known source for the present work is a set of seven manuscript parts within a large collection of Italian music now known as ‘The Manchester Concerto Partbooks’.(4) Since the history and contents of this significant collection, representative of the heyday of the Italian concerto, are assessed in detail elsewhere, only a summary needs to be given here.(5) The volumes contain sets of separate parts for 95 compositions, mostly concertos, that came into the possession of Charles Jennens, well-known as the librettist for Handel’s Messiah and other works; later they passed to the music libraries of the earls of Aylesford and Sir Newman Flower. It was Jennens who had acquired the music from Italy and had it bound in its existing volumes. Earlier, in its unbound state, the collection had almost certainly been part of a much larger corpus: the music amassed over many years at Cardinal Ottoboni’s court, sold oV after the illustrious patron’s death in 1740. The diverse contents of the concerto collection suggest that Ottoboni’s musicians acquired and performed music from artistic centres elsewhere (notably Venice and Bologna) as well as works composed locally. Like most pieces contained in the partbooks, the source for the present work is a utilitarian manuscript intended to be used in performance rather than to grace a library shelf. Catalogued as item 64, it belongs to the largest subset of the collection: 43 works copied on Roman music-paper by scribes who are likely to have worked at Ottoboni’s court, in and around the mid-1720s.6 The seven parts’ original nomenclature and location within the partbooks are as follows:
First oboe & recorder: Oboè Primo volume ix, f. 25
& recorder: Oboè 2.o
volume xi, f. 20
First trumpet: Tromba Prima
volume xiv, f. 21
Second trumpet: Tromba 2.a
volume v, f. 34
First violin: Violino Primo
volume vii, ff. 55–56
Second violin: Violino 2.o
volume viii, ff. 38–39
Basso continuo: Basso
volume xiii, ff. 40–41
The oboe parts are of special interest in that they each call for “Flauto” (here meaning the standard flauto dolce, an alto recorder) at the beginning of the third movement and then revert to “Oboè” for the final movement. This demonstrates a common practice of the time whereby woodwind players were employed to perform on more than one type of instrument, sometimes within the same piece. If suitable personnel are available, the solution of engaging oboists who are capable also of playing the recorder parts naturally remains the best one today.
Only the Basso part identifies the composer and gives a title for the work, having been designed as a folder into which the remaining parts could be inserted when not in use. The music of the bass itself begins on the second page (f. 40v), following a title-page which reads: ‘Basso | Sinfonia Con Oboe, Violini | e Trombe à | beneplacito | Del Sig.RE Gioseppe Valentini | Sono fogli 2 ÷’. Those words and the music of all seven parts are in a notably competent, presumably professional, hand; the same copyist was responsible for several of the collection’s other compositions by Valentini (items 25, 28, 51 and 65). Since all the parts employ the same variety of five-stave music-paper as 22 of the other Roman manuscripts, there can be little doubt that this scribe was closely associated with the cardinal’s establishment. Dating almost certainly from the mid- or late 1720s, the present sinfonia in D major and its close contemporaries items 28 and 51 (concertos in A major and F major, respectively, available in this series as HH 024 and HH 023) are among the most mature and most innovative of Valentini’s surviving compositions. Common to all three are the absence of a viola part (a factor not uncommon in music for Ottoboni’s establishment after c1720) and an inventive juxtaposition of wind and strings. They are further characterized by their galant expression and remarkably experimental designs: sectional movement-structures, often exhibiting, within the framework of binary form, the tendencies of incipient sonata form.7 Showing only a minimal use of solo-tutti contrast and the traditional Roman concerto grosso disposition of forces on which the composer’s earlier instrumental works had relied, this was, in its day, a new kind of ensemble music that anticipated the classical symphony.
Editorial policy and matters of performance In this critical edition, original key signatures, time signatures and clefs are retained. For the most part, text missing from the source or otherwise added by the editor is shown within square brackets. Editorial slurs and ties are given in dashed form. In other cases of editorial intervention, including instances where such intervention cannot be distinguished in the main text by those typographical means, the original readings are described in the Textual Notes. The original notation follows the normal convention of the early eighteenth century whereby an accidental governs only the note it precedes and any immediate repetitions of that note, whether barlines intervene or not.
The conversion to modern notation has thus entailed the tacit suppression of accidentals that are redundant in today’s usage (where an inflexion occurring earlier in the bar has not been cancelled) and the tacit addition of others (after a barline, when an inflected pitch continues to apply). An accidental omitted from the source in error is recorded in the Textual Notes if an accidental occurring earlier in the bar remains valid, by modern convention, for the pitch in question; it is otherwise restored in square brackets in the normal way. Editorial cautionary accidentals are given within round brackets; cautionary accidentals included in the source are reproduced without brackets. The source provides no figures for the basso continuo part. An entirely unfigured, or only sparsely figured, bass is not in itself unusual; professional musicians of Valentini’s day were typically expected to realize basso continuo extempore, without the aid of figures – especially in the case of Italian music such as this in which the harmonic progression is mostly straightforward. Naturally, the editorial figures included in the present edition do not provide the only possible harmonic solution in every instance; their purpose is to ensure that a complete text is presented and to assist continuo players inexperienced in realizing unfigured basses. (A version of this score with a written-out continuo realization is available separately.) The size and complexion of the continuo group (which may of course include, besides cello and harpsichord, a double bass playing at sixteen-foot pitch and an archlute or theorbo) is best determined in relation to the number of players allotted to the violin parts. Sinfonias such as this were typically intended for fairly small forces. Although an interpretation with only one player on each violin part can work, performances that employ at least two or three players on each string part are more likely to realize the powerful vigour of this music. The wind parts, naturally, are not meant to be doubled – but neither are they to be regarded as ‘solo’ instruments to be accompanied. The trumpets, indeed, operate much as they do in the classical orchestra: in a modest, supportive role. Though their inclusion is optional, the work is undeniably the poorer without their enhancing sonority.
The source is quite specific with regard to dynamics, trills, appoggiaturas, slurring and staccato, presumably in reflection of the composer’s own wishes. Accordingly, editorial markings concerning interpretation are added mostly by analogy with original ones. In works such as this, forte (intended to mean a ‘normal’, full-bodied sonority) is typically assumed rather than explicitly marked, especially at the beginning of a fast movement and for ritornellos. Accordingly, piano means a relative reduction from that norm, not soft in an absolute sense; only pianissimo, when specified, requires a particularly hushed sound. Further dynamic variation may, of course, be applied from moment to moment. Even so, the ideal communication of the music of Valentini’s time depends far less on dynamic contrast than on subtle variations in tempo, articulation and embellishment.
Cork, October 2000
1 For detailed information on Valentini’s life and works, see Michael Talbot, ‘A Rival of Corelli: the Violinist-Composer Giuseppe Valentini’, in Sergio Durante & Pierluigi Petrobelli (eds), Nuovissimi studi corelliani (Olschki, Florence, 1982), pp. 347–65; and Enrico Careri, ‘Giuseppe Valentini (1681–1753): Documenti inediti’, Note d’Archivio, 5 (1987), pp. 69–125.
2 See Enrico Careri, Catalogo dei manoscritti musicali dell’Archivio Generale delle Scuole Pie a San Pantaleo (Torre d’Orfeo, Rome, 1987). Incipits and other details of the manuscripts (five concertos and one sinfonia) in the Saxon State Library, Dresden, are given in Paola Pozzi, ‘Il concerto strumentale italiano alla corte di Dresda durante la prima metà del settecento’, in Albert Dunning (ed.), Intorno a Locatelli. Studi in occasione del tricentenario della nascità di Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695–1764) (Libreria Muscale Italiana, Lucca, 1995), pp. 953–1037: 1027–9.
3 The most recent evaluation of evidence linking Valentini with Ottoboni’s court is Stefano La Via, ‘Il Cardinale Ottoboni e la musica: nuovi documenti (1700–1740), nuove letture e ipotesi’, in Dunning, Intorno a Locatelli, cit., pp. 319–526; especially pp. 340, 361–3 and 499.
4 Thirteen volumes exist in the Central Library, Manchester, shelfmark MS 580 Ct 51. A further partbook which completes the set, referred to below and in former literature as volume xiv, survives in the British Library, London, shelfmark RM.22.c.28. We are grateful to Manchester Public Libraries and the British Library for permission to use this source for the present edition. 5 See Paul Everett, The Manchester Concerto Partbooks (Garland, New York & London, 1989).
6 See Paul Everett, ‘A Roman Concerto Repertory: Ottoboni’s “what not”?’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 110 (1983–84), pp. 62–78. 7 The technical features of these works are explored in Everett, Manchester Concerto Partbooks, cit., pp. 325–42.