Reviewed by Peter Wollny*
1.2 The significance of the Liechtenstein-Castelcorn
collection was first recognized early in the twentieth century, when a
great number of its sources were scored in Vienna in connection with the
Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich series; among the
most prominent early users was Paul Nettl, who based his seminal study
on seventeenth-century Viennese dance compositions, and the accompanying
DTÖ volume largely on Kromeríz sources.(note
1) In 1928, Antonín Breitenbacher published a most valuable—but,
at least in Western libraries, only rarely accessible—catalogue of the
Kromeríz holdings.(note 2) Better known, but less detailed and complete, is Craig A. Otto's catalogue
compiled on the basis of microfilms at Syracuse University.(note
3) A new comprehensive thematic catalogue, recently prepared
by Jirí Sehnal and J. Pesková, awaits publication.
2.2 As is always the case with this type
of mixed-bag anthology, the stylistic profile and musical quality of the
edited music tends to be somewhat uneven. The two compositions by Antonio
Bertali (nos. 1–2) are fine examples of Viennese violin music around 1650
and constitute rewarding pieces for any violinist interested in this repertoire.
Less satisfying are the compositions by the Danzig virtuoso Heinrich Döbel
(nos. 3–10). The Kromeríz manuscript of these sonatas and dances
was possibly written by the composer himself and may have come to its
present location during Döbel's grand tour, which he undertook between
1676 and 1679. Perhaps because of their extended sequences these works
look a bit dry and pedantic, though they document of course the high standard
of Döbel's violin technique. Surprisingly virtuosic—yet at the same
time rather poor in melodic appeal—is the extended anonymous Ciacona in
D major (no. 11). The core of the anthology is made up by a series of
five sonatas, nos. 12–17, transmitted in a single source; these pieces
display a great number of beautifully crafted, refined ideas, and will
challenge the player both musically and technically. As Brewer suggests,
these five works show many parallels to the famous Sonatae unarum fidium (1664) by Schmelzer; there is a strong possibility—which, I think, could
be raised—that these compositions represent something like a second volume
of violin sonatas, which Schmelzer decided not to publish but rather to
make available only to his patron at Kromeríz. These compositions
add new facets to our perception of Schmelzer as a highly versatile composer
and violinist. They also display a number of ideas that Biber took up
in quite similar fashion for his solo sonatas of 1681, such as the playing
of two parts by one violin, or the changing of the violin scordatura within
a piece. There are two further interesting examples of scordatura writing
(nos. 17 and 18b, both anonymous), and the anthology is concluded by a
number of single-movement dances, again anonymous.
3.2 Editorial intervention, or at least some commentary, would also have been appropriate in the two Gigues of the anonymous Sonatina in D Minor (no. 18b), an extraordinarily difficult rendering of a viola da gamba piece (no. 18a) arranged for scordatura violin. Apart from its astonishingly virtuosic demands caused by the continuous use of multiple stops, the Gigues contain a number of unplayable chords, which may partly reflect scribal errors or problems in intavolating the intended notes into scordatura notation.
3.3 These are minor points, however. Altogether, this volume represents a valuable and most welcome addition to the published repertoire, and it is hoped that more are to follow.
*Peter Wollny (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, coordinating editor for the Neue Bach Ausgabe, and a lecturer at the University of Leipzig.
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Notes1. "Die Wiener Tanzkomposition in der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 8 (1921), 45–176; and Wiener Tanzmusik in der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts, DTÖ 56 (1921).
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2. Hudební archiv kolegiátního
kostela sv. Morice v Kromerízi (Olomouc, 1928).
3. Seventeenth-Century Music from Kromeríz
Czechoslovakia: A Catalogue of the Liechtenstein Music Collection on Microfilm
at Syracuse University (Syracuse: Syracuse University, 1979)
RemarksFurther emendations: readers should consider the following:
No. 1, m. 46, last note: natural.
No. 3, mm. 9 and 14, fifth note: natural.
No. 3, mm. 118–120: g-sharp throughout.
No. 5, mm. 11, 12, and 14: f-natural throughout.
No. 17, mm. 77–114: the natural to the note f' (sounding as g') is missing
in several instances.
Gigue 1: m. 8, 4th beat; m. 18, 2nd and 3rd beat.
Gigue 2: m. 4, 5th beat.
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