My discographic project places the viola at the centre of diverse and interesting chamber music works. The solo- or Trio-Sonatas I propose, dating from the second half of the eighteenth century, with viola, cello, fortepiano or harpsichord, provide us with a detailed fresco of the compositional variety found in Europe at the end of the Baroque era: style galant, Berlinese Empfindsamkeit and references to the style of the new schools of Mannheim and Vienna. It was in this period that some among the protagonists of European music decided to give a new light to this instrument, freeing it from its role as an orchestra’s “dull ripieno”, as recounted by William Flackton in his Introduction to the Six Solos op. 2:
The Solos for a Tenor Violin are intended to shew that Instrument in a more conspicuous Manner, than it has hitherto been accustomed; the Part generally allotted to it being little more than a dull Ripiano, an Accessory or Auxiliary, to fill up or compleat the Harmony in Full Pieces of Music; though it must be allowed, that at some particular Times, it has been permitted to accompany a Song , and likewife to lead in a Fugue; yet even then, it is assisted by one or more Instruments in the Unisons or Octaves, to prevent , if possible ,its being distinguished from any other Instruments; or, if it happens to be heard but in so small a Space as a Bar or two, ‘tis quickly overpowered again with a Crowd of Instruments and lost in Chorus.
All of the pieces selected here (one of which is in world premiere) are performed with an extreme care for the contemporaneous performance practice, including the thoughtful choice of the instruments so as to recreate, as precisely as possible, an “authentic” sound. One of the fortepianos used for this recording is a copy of one by Johann Gottfried Silbermann, whose instruments were owned by Frederick II of Prussia (one for each of his residences), to be employed for private concerts and regularly played by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Another is a copy of one by Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the fortepiano, who was in the service of the Medici in Florence.
Francesca Venturi Ferriolo
Several red threads connect the works recorded in this Da Vinci Classics album and the composers represented here, beyond the obvious chronological considerations and the similarity in the performing forces. A first element is the city of Berlin, along with one of its most important citizens ever, Frederick the Great. A fine musician himself and a lavish patron of the arts and enlightened ruler, Frederick contributed substantially to the cultural and musical life of his era. Johann Gottlieb Graun (1703-1771) got acquainted with him when Frederick was still a Prince, in Rheinsberg (1732), becoming one of his court musicians there and later following him in Berlin, where he would remain Kapellmeister at the Royal Chapel until his death. Also Johann Gottlieb Janitsch (1708-1762) moved to Berlin at almost the same time (1733), although his first employment was not in the musical field: he served in fact for three years as the secretary of a Prussian minister, Franz Wilhelm von Happe. Only in 1736 was his musical talent truly discovered, and Janitsch became contraviolinist in the King’s ensemble (in Rheinsberg first, and later in Berlin). Through the good offices of Johann Gottlieb Graun and of his brother Carl Heinrich, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) was also appointed a member of Frederick the Great’s court orchestra, and followed him in Berlin in 1740. The Prussian capital city saw also many successful performances by the Italian Felice Giardini (1716-1796), who spent some time there before settling in London, where he lived for many years.
In London, Giardini became acquainted with Johann Christian Bach, who was Johann Sebastian’s youngest son: their friendly relationship and positive professional cooperation resulted, on the one hand, in Bach’s observable influence on Giardini’s compositional style, and, on the other, in Giardini’s participation in the famous series of the “Bach-Abel” concerts, one of the most important musical events of the era, which substantially shaped the musical life in London (leaving a long-lasting mark even in the following century) and also beyond the City. Bach’s partner, Abel, was involved in the revision of William Flackton’s Six Solos: different from the other composers represented here, Flackton (1709-1798) was not primarily a musician, and his main field of activity was publishing and bookselling, though his considerable musical skills and knowledge are abundantly testified by his large compositional output. Nevertheless, as he himself acknowledged, he felt “particular Obligations to Mr Abel, for inspecting [his] Work in Manuscript before it went to the Press”. If the “Bach-Abel” initiatives linked Giardini with Flackton, other two members of the Bach family were involved in Johann Gottlieb Graun’s life, since, on Johann Sebastian’s request, Graun taught the violin to his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. Thus, another of the red threads found in this programme is represented by the Bach family, from Wilhelm Friedemann to Carl Philipp Emanuel to Johann Christian, who were among the protagonists of the musical scene of their era.
Last but not least, these musicians and works are also connected by their common references to the Italian instrumental tradition and violin school. This is, of course, particularly evident in the case of Felice Giardini, who was born in Turin, Italy, and studied under the guidance of Giovanni Battista Somis, one of the greatest violinists of the era. Giardini maintained important links with his homeland, in spite of his very erratic life with continuing travels and resettlements in various European countries (including Russia, where he would die at eighty). Through his Italian acquaintances, Giardini was able to secure a valuable Stradivari violin for his patron, Lord Aylesford, to whom the viola sonata recorded here is also dedicated. Even though Giardini is the only Italian composer represented here, Graun had also been the student of a major figure of the Italian violin school (perhaps the greatest, together with Corelli), i.e. the Istrian Giuseppe Tartini, whose spectacular technique is observable in the works of his former student. The connection between Janitsch (who was born in a city today belonging to Poland) and Italy is looser, but it is interesting to know that he had become so fluent in the Italian musical language of the era that a Sinfonia he composed used to be ascribed to Antonio Vivaldi.
Besides biographical considerations, the most important red thread which connects the works of the German, Polish-born, Italian and English composers represented here is their common attempt at the creation of a new idiom of music, which was rooted within the late-Baroque instrumental tradition and yet was exploring new solutions, particularly as concerns the role of instruments which had previously been neglected in their soloistic potential, such as the viola. The importance of melody in the musical style of the late eighteenth century represented a favourable context for the flowering and development of a new role for the viola, given its singing tone quality, the varied character of its expressive nuances, and its special suitability for the intimate context of chamber music. This recording therefore offers us a virtual, or rather artistic and musical journey through Europe, and the possibility of witnessing the birth of a new genre, the Viola Sonata, which will produce unforgettable masterpieces in the following centuries, paving the way for the ultimate appreciation of the viola’s unique and touching qualities.
Liner notes by Chiara Bertoglio
Francesca Venturi Ferriolo is an italian violist, performing and researching the viola solo and chamber music repertoire from baroque to romantic. She is PHD student at the University of Music and Performing Arts Frankfurt. She is co-founder member of the the early music Ensemble Il Quadro Animato with which she won the first prize at the Selifa International early music competition in 2015 and the special prize Kulturfeste im Land Brandenburg at the Gebrüder-Graun Competition in 2016. In the same year, the ensemble was selected for the Eeemerging Program for the years 2017 and 2018. She studied viola (Master's program in Historical Interpretation Practice) with Professor Petra Müllejans and Mechthild Karkow at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts. She previously studied with Werner Saller, Aroa Sorin, Patrick Jüdt, Giuseppe Miglioli and instructed during masterclasses led by Susanne Scholz, Aida Carmen Soanea, Patrick Jordan, Christian Goosses, Lucy Van Dael, Ton Koopman and Ashley Solomon. In 2016, she won a scholarship for attending the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, Canada. In 2015, she won the viola’s selection to take part in the project Génération Baroque in Strasbourg, led by Martin Gester.
She has performed at festivals across Europe, including at the Vielklang Festival- Tübingen, Festival d'Ambronay, Thüringer Bachwochen, Händel- Festspiele, Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival- York, Haller Bach- Tage, Sonntagsmusik (Telemann- Haus Magdeburg), konzertreihe Händel- Haus Halle. She is teaching violin and viola at the “Staatliche Musikschule “in Hofheim am Taunus.
Korean born harpsichordist Hwa-Jeong Lee earned her Bachelor and Master degrees in Harpsichord and Basso-Continuo with Eva Maria Pollerus and Jesper Christensen at Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main. She has performed in concert throughout Germany, Switzerland and Italy as a continuo player at the numerous Baroque Festivals including Thüringer Bachwochen, Rheingau Musik Festival, Baroque Nights Festival in Kronberg and in Alte Oper in Frankfurt am Main. She has performed with Kai Wessel, Michael Schneider and Andreas Scholl. As an accompanist she attended at projects with Cappella Academica Frankfurt, the Marburg University etc. She took part in master classes with Christine Schornsheim, Christophe Rousset and Florian Birsak. In 2019 she has won the Special-prize for best Generalbass-and Harpsichord Obligato-play at the International Telemann Competition in Magdeburg, Germany.
Johannes Berger is a versatile Cellist who performs regularly on baroque, classical and modern cello. Born in Bremen, he started playing the Cello at the age of 9. After finishing his studies on the modern Cello with Gert von Bülow at Rostock, he decided to follow his passion for the Historical Performance Practice, influenced by the books and recordings of Nikolaus Harnoncourt and inspiring coaching by Anner Bylsma and Pieter Wispelwey. He then studied baroque cello with Kristin von der Goltz at Munich and Frankfurt, finishing both Master and concert exam (postgraduate). Being an experienced baroque/classical cellist and Continuo player, Johannes regularly works with Freiburger Barockorchester, Das Kleine Konzert, L’academia giocosa, Leipziger Concert and many other Ensembles. CD recordings include Beethoven Symphonies with Kammerorchester Basel/Giovanni Antonini and Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz, Telemann chamber music with Shunske Sato and others and italian solo cantatas with Sunhae Im.
Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach: (b Weimar, 8 March 1714; d Hamburg, 14 Dec 1788). Composer and church musician, the second surviving son of Johann Sebastian Bach and his first wife, Maria Barbara. He was the most important composer in Protestant Germany during the second half of the 18th century and enjoyed unqualified admiration and recognition particularly as a teacher and keyboard composer.
Profile from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Felice Giardini (b Turin, 12 April 1716; d Moscow, 28 May/8 June 1796). Italian violinist and composer of French descent. He showed an early talent for the violin, but his father sent him to Milan as a cathedral chorister, and to study singing, composition and harpsichord with Paladini. He returned to Turin to study violin with G.B. (not Lorenzo) Somis, and while still a youth joined an opera orchestra in Rome. Soon after, he moved to the Teatro S Carlo in Naples, and quickly advanced from the back desks to the position of deputy leader. It was here, probably on 30 May 1747 at the revival of Eumene or 4 November 1748 at the revival of Ezio, that Jommelli cured him of his excessive love of impromptu decoration in performance, as he later reported to Burney:
One night, during the opera, Jomelli, who had composed it, came into the orchestra, and seating himself close by me, I determined to give the Maestro di Capella a touch of my taste and execution; and in the symphony of the next song, which was in a pathetic style, I gave loose to my fingers and fancy; for which I was rewarded by the composer with a violent slap in the face; which … was the best lesson I ever received from a great master in my life.
Shortly after this incident Giardini settled to a career of solo violin playing (saying later that he had given up the harpsichord after hearing the playing of Mme de St Maur, a pupil of Rameau), and he left Italy to begin a concert tour of Europe. After great success in Berlin, he came to England by way of France, making his first public appearance at a benefit for the aging Cuzzoni on 27 April 1751. The enthusiastic reception, amplified by the support of such aristocrats as Mrs Fox Lane (Lady Bingley), soon established him with the English public.
During the 1751–2 season Giardini led a major series of subscription concerts at the Great Room, Dean Street, and he promoted further series here in 1753 and 1755. Also in 1752 he performed at a concert in aid of the Lock Hospital, with which he was to be associated until 1780 as concert organizer, composer and governor. About 1753–4 he married the singer Maria Vestris, but the marriage was apparently of brief duration. In 1754 he took over and revitalized the orchestra of the Italian Opera at the King’s Theatre, initiating a ‘new discipline, and a new style of playing’ (Burney). He retained a connection with the Opera for 30 years, sometimes as leader, but also, and less successfully, as impresario for the 1756–7 and 1763–4 seasons.
Despite the appearance of a serious rival in Wilhelm Cramer, who made his London début in 1773, and later competition from Salomon, Giardini maintained his position as a player; Burney called him ‘the greatest performer in Europe’. He took part in the Bach-Abel concerts (sometimes playing the viola), and also appeared in the provinces, taking charge of the orchestra for the Three Choirs Festival from 1770 to 1776. He was in great demand as a teacher and held important morning concerts for his violin, singing and harpsichord pupils in his house. By 1767 he had been appointed music master to the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Cumberland; and in 1782 he took over the same post in the Prince of Wales's establishment. From 1774 to 1779 he often led the orchestra at the Pantheon Concerts in Oxford Street and in the 1776–7 and 1782–3 seasons was again leader at the King’s Theatre. He was a governor of the Foundling Hospital, ran the annual benefit concerts for a time, and even, with Burney, planned the setting up of a music academy there. Despite these activities, he appears to have grown embittered and quarrelsome, ‘spoke well of few’ (not even of Haydn on his first London visit), and eventually left England for Italy in 1784. There he lived in Naples at the home of Sir William Hamilton, who had been one of his first violin pupils in London.
In 1790 Giardini attempted to return to the English operatic scene, directing the orchestra from the harpsichord at the Haymarket Theatre (the King’s Theatre having burnt down the previous year). The attempt proved unsuccessful, owing partly to the poor response to his protégée, the soprano Marianna Laurenti. After a farewell performance at Ranelagh Gardens on 22 May 1792, he seems to have travelled to St Petersburg: certainly by 1796 he was in Moscow, where he died in great poverty.
Giardini’s contributions to pasticcio operas are widely scattered; those pieces that were basically his own work were Rosmira, Enea e Lavinia and Il re pastore. In 1763 he collaborated with Charles Avison on an English oratorio Ruth, which was performed at the Lock Hospital Chapel; a final version, set entirely by Giardini and performed at the chapel five years later, became one of his most popular compositions. Among his many published instrumental works, the earlier examples show the most originality. In his Sei quintetti op.11 (1767) he joined Tommaso Giordani in exploiting the new medium of the keyboard quintet, and his Sei sonate di cembalo con violino o flauto traverso op.3 (1751) are the earliest examples of the accompanied sonata in England. Newman mentioned them as being ‘remarkable for supplying a missing link between the solo/bass and the true duo types’. Although tradition has long (and mistakenly) associated Giardini with the melody of the Russian God Save the Tsar (by L'vov), he is still represented in English hymnals with his tune ‘Moscow’.
Johann Gottlieb Graun (b Wahrenbrück, 1702–3; d Berlin, 27 Oct 1771). Composer, brother of (1) August Friedrich Graun. From 1713 he attended the Kreuzschule in Dresden, where he sang in the boys' choir directed by Johann Zacharias Grundig, and from 1720 by Theodor Christlieb Reinhold. Although he was registered in 1718–19 at the University of Leipzig, the school archives show that he remained an alumnus until 1721. Graun studied the violin and composition with the Dresden Konzertmeister J.G. Pisendel, and continued his studies with Tartini in Padua, returning to Dresden afterwards. In 1726 he was appointed Konzertdirektor at the royal court in Merseburg, where his annual salary was over 306 thalers, including 43 thalers and 18 groschen as payment for his compositions. These probably included the six violin sonatas that Graun published in Merseburg. A measure of his reputation as a violinist is that J.S. Bach allowed his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, to be taught by him in 1726–7.
The next phase in Graun's career was his appointment as Konzertdirektor at the court of Carl August Friedrich, Prince of Waldeck, on 1 September 1731. He had probably already been working in the prince's service since 1727. There he directed a small Kapelle made up of highly qualified singers and players. Their repertory consisted mainly of Italian music and works by Telemann. Graun's annual salary was 400 thalers, together with payments in kind. Clearly he now felt in a position to start a family, and in 1731 he married Dorothea-Josepha Schmiel, who bore him three children. In May 1728 Graun had performed at the Prussian court in Berlin and quite probably earned the approval of Pietro Locatelli, who was present. Apparently he maintained contacts with Berlin; not only did his marriage take place there, but in 1732 he became a member of the newly formed Kapelle of the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick in Ruppin. The orchestra developed gradually: in 1733 Franz Benda (a pupil of Graun) joined, in the following year Johann Benda and Christoph Schaffrath came, and then Graun's brother (3) Carl Heinrich in 1735. With 17 members, the Kapelle followed the crown prince to Rheinsberg in 1736 and formed the kernel of the Prussian court Kapelle that Frederick the Great developed further after his accession to the throne in 1740. J.G. Graun held the position of Konzertmeister, with a salary of 1200 thalers, until his death. His duties included directing the orchestra at numerous court concerts, mainly for the reigning Queen Elisabeth Christine and for Frederick the Great's mother, the dowager Queen Sophia Dorothea. Most of Graun's instrumental works could have been written for the king's chamber concerts or for the larger court concerts. It is not known whether he was involved with any of the many musical societies formed in Berlin and Potsdam in the 1740s and 50s, which included professional musicians as well as amateurs from the nobility and bourgeoisie. However, we do know that Graun was involved in teaching the new generation of orchestral players; he received additional payments for instructing the violinists Ivan Böhme in 1746–50 and Balthasar Christian Bertram in 1749–51.
Graun was held in high regard by his contemporaries, especially as an orchestral trainer and instrumental composer. There is evidence of this in the large number of surviving manuscripts of his orchestral and chamber music, in particular an extensive collection of his works in the library of Frederick the Great's sister, Princess Anna Amalia (now in D-Bsb). Any attempt to describe his musical style, particularly in comparison with that of his younger brother, is problematic because of difficulties with the sources and obvious similarities in their musical handwriting, which perhaps stem from common influences in Dresden. In his trios J.G. Graun appears to have adopted the three-movement (slow–fast–fast) form, in place of the four-movement da chiesa form, before his brother did. In addition, he composed mostly for string ensembles, which is hardly surprising: for two violins or for ensembles including the viola or viola da gamba (see Wendt, 1983). The trios of both brothers have in common a type of thematic development based on Fortspinnungand featuring syncopation, triplets and so-called lombardic rhythms, and both brothers limited the thematic interest to the upper parts. Most of J.G. Graun's instrumental concertos are for one or two solo violins, although there are some for other instruments. The ritornello form of Tartini provided a structural starting-point for these works, on which much research still needs to be done.
The symphonies attributed to J.G. Graun include works for strings (to some of which wind parts were added later) and others for larger forces. This indicates different places and performance conditions (chamber or concert hall), although the structure of the music does not necessarily reflect this. In all this variety of form lies the basic principle of grouping motifs together, especially in the outer movements. In the weighty first movements this principle is maintained within an overall three-part structure, and in the finales it is integrated in the design of a movement resembling one from a suite. In his symphonies Graun followed the Italian model, but he was also a composer who cultivated the French overture. These works probably date from the 1720s and 30s, as the form soon became unpopular at the court of Frederick the Great. Graun's liturgical music and his Italian passion oratorio may date from the period before his appointment in Prussia, as there were hardly any later opportunities for their use until regular performances of sacred music began in a few Berlin churches in the 1750s.
Johann Gottlieb Janitsch (b Schweidnitz [now Swidnica], 19 June 1708; d Berlin, c1763). Silesian composer and bass viol player. After attending the Dreifaltigkeitsschule at Schweidnitz, he went to Breslau to continue his musical studies under the guidance of the local court musicians. In 1729 he registered as a law student at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder. During his four-year stay there he took an active part in the city’s musical life: he provided music for various royal and civic occasions and on 14 November 1729 directed a performance of one of his serenades before Friedrich Wilhelm I; two years later he gave a similar concert before Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick the Great). In 1733 Janitsch left the university and became secretary to Franz Wilhelm von Happe, an important minister of state. In 1736 he was called to Ruppin as a member of Prince Frederick’s personal orchestra. Later that year the prince’s establishment moved to Rheinsberg and there Janitsch inaugurated his famous ‘Friday Academies’. On Frederick’s accession in 1740 Janitsch was appointed ‘contraviolinist’ in the reconstituted orchestra; he remained in Berlin until his death. Other duties at Frederick’s court involved the direction and composition of music for the court balls (held annually from 1743) and some work with the opera chorus. The ‘Friday Academies’ continued to flourish at Janitsch’s house in Berlin; performers included enthusiasts from the court orchestra and many other musicians, both professional and amateur. These weekly concerts had an excellent reputation and inspired many similar undertakings, notably C.F. Schale’s ‘Monday Assembly’ and J.F. Agricola’s ‘Saturday Concerts’.
Janitsch was much respected by his contemporaries. At Frankfurt he had received several commissions for birthday, wedding and funeral music, and there was also demand for his compositions in Berlin. Works commissioned during the Berlin period include a Te Deum for the laying of the foundation stone of St Hedwig’s Basilica (1748), and festive music for the coronation of King Adolf Frederik of Sweden (1751). The latter was written at the request of Princess Amalia, but was probably not performed during the actual celebrations. Janitsch was particularly renowned for his quartets (for three melody instruments and continuo), which Johann Wilhelm Hertel described as the ‘best models’ of their kind. Certainly they show a mastery of contrapuntal technique and an awareness of texture and timbre. The most appealing aspect is the rich variety of instrumentations, including unusual sonorities like oboe d’amore and viola pomposa. Janitsch’s instrumental music is in the galant style. The writing is sometimes rather florid, in the manner of J.G. Graun. Three of Janitsch’s quartets were published by Winter in Berlin (1760), and a few other pieces by him, including harpsichord sonatas, organ sonatas, and lieder appeared in contemporary collections. It appears likely that Janitsch autographs were in the private collection of Sara Levy, which passed to the Berlin Singakademie after her death. The recent discovery of Singakademie holdings in the Ukraine may bring the autographs to light.
William Flackton (b Canterbury, bap. 27 March 1709; d Canterbury, 5 Jan 1798). English composer and music collector. A son of John Flackton, bricklayer and cathedral contractor, he was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral under William Raylton from 1716 to 1725. During this time he was also apprenticed to Edward Burgess, bookseller, stationer and cathedral lay clerk. In the Kentish Post (December 1727) he announced his return from London and his setting up as a bookseller. He was joined in this business between 1747 and about 1767 by his brother John, a singer and horn player, in which latter connection John is said to be pictured in the painting reproduced as pl. xlix of Karl Geiringer’s Instruments in the History of Western Music (London, 1943, 3/1978); William Flackton’s song The Chace has a prominent horn part in its instrumental accompaniment. Between 1735 and 1752 Flackton was organist of St Mary of Charity, Faversham, where he presented an anthem of his composition at the installation of a new organ in 1737. The assertion in the obiturary notice in the Gentleman’s Magazine that he was ‘passionately attached to sacred music’ is borne out not only by his sacred compositions, which include the Hymns for Three Voices he published in connection with his interest in education through Sunday Schools, but also by his work in assembling collections of manuscripts. The Flackton Collection (GB-Lbl Add.30931–3) represents the collectings of Daniel Henstridge, Raylton and Flackton himself. Many of the holographs by Purcell and Blow in these volumes were obtained by Henstridge while at Rochester, while other 17th-century copies were added in Canterbury by later owners. Philip Hayes used the collection in 1784–5, making notes in it and acknowledging it as a source in his own copies, while the copyist of GB-Cfm Mus 183 recorded his debt to Flackton in 1783. Flackton was one of the principal organizers of public concerts in Canterbury from the 1730s until late in his life, often in conjunction with the cathedral organist of the day and, in earlier times, with Canterbury minor canon William Gostling. His activities are chronicled in advertisements in the Kentish Post and Kentish Gazette.
Of Flackton’s instrumental music, most interest attaches to his four sonatas for tenor violin (viola). In the preface to his op.2 sonatas (which were ‘inspected’ before publication by C.F. Abel) he stressed the claims of that neglected instrument and the need to increase its meagre repertory of solo music. Composing in a style already well outdated by the time of publication in 1770, he did so not only with ample competence but with considerable individuality and expressive power. In particular, the slow opening movement of the C minor viola sonata of 1776 has a haunting gravity of phrase which, though unmistakably in the idiom of the late Baroque, is far removed from mere echoes of stock material, and his viola sonatas survive for reasons beyond the mere paucity of the 18th-century repertory for the instrument. All his string music testifies to the regard of his contemporaries for his ‘refined and elegant taste’.