Concerto for violin in A minor
ed. Jehoash Hirshberg/Simon McVeigh
T The violinist and composer Andrea Zani was born in Casalmaggiore, near Cremona, on 11 November 1696. Invited by Antonio Caldara to Vienna, he became a well-known virtuoso and teacher there, although he never held an official position in the imperial establishment. In 1738 he returned to Casalmaggiore, where he remained for the rest of his life apart from occasional performances in neighbouring cities. He died on 28 September 1757.1
Zani was a prolific concerto composer, and his works were widely disseminated. A set of twelve violin concertos was published in Vienna by 1735 (later reissued in Amsterdam), and three concertos were included in the magnificent collection of Italian instrumental music made for Pierre Philibert de Blancheton.2 Other concertos are to be found in manuscript collections assembled in Dresden, Wiesentheid and elsewhere: altogether 23 concertos for violin, 12 for cello and 2 for flute are known to have survived. The Concerto in A minor exists in a single manuscript source (Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB), Mus. 2831-0-6)3 under the title ‘Concerto | co Violino concert: VV.ni | Viola e Basso | 13 St. | Del Sig.r Zani’. The concerto was clearly copied for the large Dresden court orchestra under Johann Georg Pisendel, to judge from the 14 (rather than 13) extant parts: Violino concertato, Violino primo (2 parts), Violino primo rip[ieno], Violino secondo (3 parts), Violetta (2 parts), Cembalo (figured), Bassono [solo], Bassono [ripieno], Basso [solo], Basso [ripieno]. The parts were meticulously copied, with only a few evident errors; Paola Pozzi has attributed the dynamic markings to Pisendel himself.4
The ripieno first violin part is in fact identical to the other first violin parts, but the continuo instruments are clearly differentiated. The ripieno bassoon and basso parts include only the tutti sections, so that the solo sections are accompanied by a smaller group, presumably cello, bassoon and harpsichord. The Cembalo part includes corresponding Tutti and Soli markings, reproduced in the present edition. While such full orchestration undoubtedly enhances the grandeur and intensity of the concerto, the published set of concertos contains the customary five parts (soloist plus four-part strings and continuo), and the present work could certainly be played by a small string ensemble or even single players with harpsichord.
This very fine concerto is remarkable for its powerful expression associated with the minor mode, for its active contrapuntal writing, and for its rich chromatic harmony. In the first movement the highly effective solo part makes the most of the resonating properties of the key of A minor, from the ingenious opening variant of the motto to the brilliant capriccio around the open E-string that leads to the final Da Capo. While the movement generally follows the Vivaldian model of ritornello form, Zani develops strategies of his own. For example, after the customary second ritornello in the dominant a long unstable area weaves around a wide variety of keys. First the solo returns briefly to the tonic, then it touches the seventh degree before retracting to the dominant for a new departure; after still more remote explorations, the ensuing ritornello then modulates from subdominant to submediant.
The Largo, reminiscent of the slow movement of Bach’s E major violin concerto, encloses an expressive violin cantilena within three solemn ritornelli: the first two in unison, the third richly harmonized. A spirited dance movement with short symmetrical phrases forms the finale, which replicates the tonal unfolding of the first movement and likewise reaches a virtuoso capriccio before the Da Capo.
Modern notational conventions with regard to rhythm and accidentals have been adopted. 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. Accidentals could also apply across one intervening note, especially in violin figuration where two voices are suggested. 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 occasional flat-sign used to indicate a natural has been tacitly modernized.
More generally, editorial additions are indicated by square brackets or broken slurs. The duplicate parts are remarkably similar copies: the few minor discrepancies, such as omitted ornaments, have not been recorded here. The exact placement of the slurs, especially in the solo part, is sometimes unclear in the manuscript, leaving considerable freedom for individual interpretation. Continuo figuring has been only lightly edited in the interests of clarity, so that some minor inconsistencies in the source remain.
Jehoash Hirshberg/Simon McVeigh
Jerusalem/London, June 2001
1 Raffaello Monterosso, ‘Andrea Zani’, in: Musicisti cremonesi (Cremona, 1951), p. 79; Monterosso, ‘Medaglioni di musicisti lombardi’, in: Musicisti lombardi ed emiliani, ed. Adelmo Damerini and Gino Roncaglia (Siena, 1958), pp. 51–2. We are most grateful to Prof. Monterosso for his generous assistance.
2 One of these is included in Ten Italian Violin Concertos from Fonds Blancheton, ed. Jehoash Hirshberg, Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era, XIX–XX (A-R Editions, Madison, 1984).
3 We are grateful to the Sächsische Landesbibliothek for permission to use this source for the present edition.
4 Paola Pozzi, ‘Il concerto strumentale italiano alla corte di Dresda durante la prima metà del Settecento’, in: Intorno a Locatelli, ed. Albert Dunning (Lucca, 1995), ii.1034.