Italian Flute Music of Early 18th Century: The Birth of Italian Transverse Flute Repertoire


  • Artist(s): Andrea Coen, Enrico Casularo
  • Composer(s): Arcangelo Corelli, Carlo Tessarini, Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio, Pietro Chaboud, Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni, Roberto Valentini
  • EAN Code: 0746160911311
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Flute, Harpsichord
  • Period: Baroque
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Sound Engineer: Silvio Piersanti
SKU: C00302 Category:

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Masters” who are said to have “approved” the adaptation for flute proposed in the edition, without, however, providing any indication as to who these ‘eminent masters’ might be, or who might have written the transcription. The tenth sonata, in F major, is transposed one tone above the Roman edition of the original collection for violin, that is, into G major, more appropriate for performance on the flute, avoiding the problem of passages which would otherwise have gone below the lower end of the instrument’s range. “Divertimenti per camera a violino, violone, cimbalo, flauto, e basso o per mandola e basso”, the second work by Bologna composer Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni (a member of the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna who may later have studied with Corelli), offers further evidence of the popularity of the transverse flute in Rome beginning in the early decades of the century. The anthology was in fact published in an elegant format by Roman publisher Antonio Cleton, presumably in the year 1717; it contained twelve sonatas for violin and bass, but the composer suggested that the solo part could alternatively be played on the mandolin or the flute. The fact that these compositions could be adapted for the transverse flute is confirmed by the subsequent (undated) publication by Walsh & Hare of six of the twelve “Divertimenti” under the title “Solos for a german flute…compos’d by Sig.r Gaetano Boni”. The “Solos” were received so favourably by London buyers that John Walsh reprinted them under the same title in 1731. Sonata II in E minor, performed in this recording, was included in the anthology, appropriately transposed by the British printer from the original key of F minor into E minor, more appropriate for performance on the transverse flute. Rome is also the city where Italy’s first collection of sonatas composed expressly for the transverse flute was published. This was the “Sonate per il flauto traversiero col basso…opera XII” (Rome, 1730), by British flutist, oboist, violinist and composer Robert Valentine (1671-1747), who moved to the capital of the Papal State and was known as Roberto Valentini or Valentino in an Italianised version of his name. Abandoning the compositional style in the manner of Corelli that characterised his previous collections of sonatas for the recorder, in opus 12 Valentini exhibits a refined, highly various, elegant style incorporating virtuoso passages, in many ways already asserting the new gallant style which was particularly well-suited to the technical and expressive peculiarities of the transverse flute. Continuing our excursus, we now turn our attention to the “Six Solos for a german flute a hoboy or violin with a thorough bass for the harpsicord or bass violin being all choice pieces by the greatest authors and fitted to the german flute by Sig.r Pietro Chaboud”, parts one and two, published in London in 1723-25 by John Walsh. Very little is known about Pietro Chaboud’s biography, though recent studies have cast a little light on the topic. The oldest documents in which he is mentioned present Chaboud, in the years 1679-85 and again in 1690, as a player in the musical chapel of San Petronio Basilica in Bologna. In 1702 he appears in London playing the transverse flute, identified by the nickname “Bolognese the traverse” in a list of payments due for a private concert held by the Duke of Bedford, while in 1715 and again in 1718 his presence is documented in the British capital playing the flute and the bassoon, respectively, in the orchestra of the Italian Opera at Haymarket Theatre and later (once again as flutist and bassoonist) in a small group of selected Italian instrumentalists performing Niccolò Haym’s anthem “O Praise the Lord in his Holman”. As the title of the “Six Solos” suggests, they were a “selection” of sonatas (probably for violin) written by a number of “great authors”, who inexplicably remain anonymous, which Chaboud had adapted for transverse flute. We may, luckily, find a clue as to the identity of these ‘famous’ but unfortunately unnamed composers in the 1730 publication by Michel Charles Le Cène of Amsterdam of a collection entitled “XII Sonate a flauto traversié o violino o hautbois e basso continuo delle composizioni degli signori Francesco Geminiani e Castrucci”, the content of which coincides exactly with the sonatas appearing in the two above-mentioned anthologies published previously in London. The fifth sonata in the second part of the Solos ranks well above the others in its inventiveness and vigorous discourse and in the vivacity and variety of its melodies, compositional characteristics in which Marcello Castellani’s clever analysis has identified a number of distinguishing features of the compositional style of Roman musician Pietro Castrucci. In 1716 Carlo Tessarini, who is thought to have been born in Rimini in 1690, was “violin master” and “concert master” at the Conservatory of the Pio Ospedale dei Derelitti ai SS. Giovanni e Paolo (known as the Ospedaletto). In 1720 he was engaged as a violinist in the Ducal Chapel in San Marco. In 1737 he was “director of instrumental music” in the residence of Cardinal W. H. Schrattenbach in Brno. In 1743 he founded the Accademia degli Anarconti in Fano and was elected as its permanent director. His considerable international fame is demonstrated not only by the publication of his works abroad, but by his performances in Paris, Frankfurt and Arnhem, in Holland, where we lose track of him in 1766. The “XII Sonate per flauto traversie e basso continuo da Carlo Tessarini di Rimini virtuoso, opera seconda” were printed in Amsterdam by Le Cène with no date, but with plate number 547, referable to the year 1729. Though this was a ‘bootleg’ edition of the works, intercepted by this uninhibited publisher and printed without notifying the composer or offering him an opportunity to check them, the anthology was a resounding and long-lasting success, as demonstrated by the second printing a few years later, around 1736, in London, again by Walsh, and by the numerous hand-written copies in circulation reproducing parts of it. The sonatas were in fact composed in a pleasing style characterised by a lively and highly varied repertoire of sound images, vigorous discourse, brilliant virtuoso passages in the fast movements, and flowing, singable melodies in the opening slow movements, composed in a style which leaves plenty of room for the performer’s extemporaneous ornamental flourishes, in accordance with the taste of the day. The “Signor Brivio” who composed the sonata that closes our selection may perhaps be identified as Milanese musician Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio, a violinist, composer, impresario and singing teacher whom many researchers believe to have spent the years 1742-5 in London. The sonata in D major proposed in this recording was included in the miscellaneous collection “Six Solos four for a german flute and a bass and two for a violin with a thorough bass for the harpsichord…”, which included not only the sonata in question but compositions by Händel, Geminiani and Somis (London, 1730, Walsh & Hare). The obvious importance of melodic invention, especially in the opening Adagio (in the lovely form of a “pastorale”) and the driving impulse of the rhythm in the fast movements produce the value and attractiveness of a musical idea perfectly suited to the expressive possibilities of the transverse flute in this pleasing composition.

Liner Notes by Enrico Casularo


Andrea Coen: He graduated in musicology at the La Sapienza University (Rome), he received his degree in harpsichord from the Royal College of Music in London. After a period of research and study of Renaissance, Baroque and Classical performance techniques with such acclaimed musicians like David Collyer and Emilia Fadini, Andrea Coen dedicated himself to an intense concert carreer in Italy, Europe, USA, Japan amd South America, performing as soloist of harpsichord, organ and fortepiano and in various chamber and vocal ensembles. He is responsible for the first complete critical edition of the D. Cimarosa's keyboard Sonatas and two Piano Sextets, and of the Intavolatura di Ancona (1644). At present he is in the scientific committee of the Opera Omnia di Muzio Clementi (60 vols), in the advisory board of Ad Parnassum, and he have realized the first modern edition of B. Marcello’s L’estro poetico-armonico. A. Coen collaborated with artists like Christopher Hogwood, Monica Huggett, Aris Christofellis, Emma Kirkby, as well as the Ensemble Seicentonovecento and L'Arte dell'arco, Odhecaton and Modo Antiquo. Andrea Coen worked as a musical consultant for the Italian Broadcasting since 1986; he taught fortepiano at the “Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia” in Rome and is at present tenured professor of harpsichord in L’Aquila's State Conservatory. His solistic recordings can be found on Brilliant Classics, Naïve, Stradivarius, Dynamic, EMI, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Denon, Musicaimmagine Records and Bongiovanni labels. In 2001 he was invited in the jury of Premio Bonporti (Rovereto) with Bart Kuijken, Chiara Banchini and Gustav Leonhart. He was invited as visiting artist at Texas University (Austin); then other recitals at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Innsbrucker Festwoche, Ravenna Festival, Festival Cervantino of Guanajato, Settembre Musica, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and many others. After his acclaimed recording (3 CDs) of L. Giustini’s 12 Sonatas, are available for Brilliant Classics other CDs with music of A. and D. Scarlatti, Telemann, Sammartini, Vivaldi and the first recording of the C. P. E. Bach’s complete Keyboard Variations and first recording of Telemann’s “Kleine Kammermusik”.

Enrico Casularo: Flautist, musicologist and organologist, he graduated brilliantly at the “S.Cecilia” Conservatory in Rome under the tutorship of Angelo Persichilli. He continued his music studies in Holland with Master Franz Vester. He is founder and conductor of the Flatus Ensemble with which he has participated in numerous festivals and concert seasons in Italy and abroad. He carries out intensive musicological research aimed at uncovering, studying and performing the unpublished flute repertoire, especially Italian, of the Baroque and Classical periods. On period flutes of his collection he makes a number of first modern performances of compositions for flute by authors (especially Italian) of the 18th and 19th centuries. He figures as a soloist for the Italian RAI broadcasting company, the German TV and Radio broadcaster WRD Cologne, Radio Suisse Romande, Vatican Radio and appears on the labels Brilliant Classics, EMI, Edipan, Bongiovanni, Modus Inveniendi and Pentaphon, Jecklin and Flatus recording. He is author of the book Research into the history and literature of the transverse flute in the 18th century in Italy and beyond, and has also published a string of articles on performance techniques, the history, the repertoire, the organology of the transverse flute in the 18th century in flute magazines in Italy and abroad. He has published previously unpublished works for flute by Filippo Ruge, Luigi Boccherini, Giovanni Battista Sammartini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Benedetto Marcello, Giovanni Andrea Fioroni, Niccolò Dôthel, Pietro Grassi Florio, Giuseppe Antonio Paganelli, Tebaldo Monzani, Ignaz Pleyel, Johann Baptist Wendling, Ferdinando Carulli, Antonio Nava. He regulary holds seminars and interpretation courses at prestigious American and Europeen conservatories. At the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali di Roma, the International Ancient Music Courses in Urbino and the “Santa Cecilia” Conservatory in Rome he has given courses in the history, literature, organology and iconography of the transverse flute. Enrico Casularo worked as a musical consultant for Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali di Roma. He teaches baroque flute since 2012 at the “Santa Cecilia” Conservatory in Rome.


Arcangelo Corelli (b Fusignano, 17 Feb 1653; d Rome, 8 Jan 1713). Italian composer and violinist. Despite the modest size of his output, comprising six collections of instrumental music and a handful of other authentic works, and its virtual restriction to three genres – solo sonata, trio sonata and concerto – Corelli exercised an unparalleled influence during his lifetime and for a long time afterwards. This influence, which affected form, style and instrumental technique in equal measure, was most closely felt in Italy, and in particular in Rome, where he settled in early manhood, but soon spread beyond local and national confines to become a European phenomenon. As a violinist, teacher of the violin and director of instrumental ensembles Corelli imposed standards of discipline that were unusually strict for their period and helped to lay the groundwork for further progress along the same lines during the 18th century. To Corelli belong equally the distinctions of being the first composer to derive his fame exclusively from instrumental composition, the first to owe his reputation in large part to the activity of music publishers, and the first to produce ‘classic’ instrumental works which were admired and studied long after their idiom became outmoded.

Carlo Tessarini (b Rimini, c1690; d ?Amsterdam, after 15 Dec 1766). Italian violinist and composer. The earliest known reference to him is in a charter of 15 December 1720, where he is mentioned as a violinist in the cappella of S Marco, Venice: his work here is documented up to 1735. Between 1723 and 1730 he was active in the Ospedale dei Derelitti, Venice, and his Sonate op.1 (Venice, 1729) names him maestro de’ concerti there. In 1731 he applied for a post at Urbino Cathedral, where his presence is documented from 1733: his involvement there was interrupted several times for various journeys. From 27 December 1738 there is again documentation of his activities at Urbino Cathedral, but in the preceding years he seems to have been direttore della musica instromentale at the court of Cardinal Wolfgang Hannibal von Schrattenbach in Brno (as indicated in his Sei sonate, Amsterdam, c1737). As early as the 1730s Tessarini had begun, together with one of his relations, Giovanni Francesco, to publish music: he issued his own works and those of others. In 1740 he was appointed first violin at the Teatro di Valle, Rome, but the death of Pope Clement XII meant that the theatre closed on 6 February of the same year. On 13 February he set off for Naples. While he was in Rome Pierleone Ghezzi made a caricature of him. There is no further trace of Tessarini at Urbino Cathedral from 1743, and on the frontispiece of his op.5 (c1744) he described himself as direttore perpetuo of the Accademia degli Anarconti in Fano, near Urbino. From 1744, however, many of his works were published by Boivin in Paris and dedicated to members of the Parisian nobility, which suggests that he lived there for a time (although there is no documentary evidence to support this). On 17 February 1747 he gave a concert at Arnheim (now Arnhem) in the Netherlands. In the same year he arrived in London, where he was engaged as leader of the orchestra of Ruckholt House, a pleasure garden in Essex where every Monday morning during the summer there was a breakfast concert followed by a dance. The season opened on 24 April and Tessarini’s name appeared regularly until October, when it was replaced by that of Richard Collet. On 9 March 1748 Tessarini began a subscription series for his Allettamenti armonici op.13 and his VI Sonate op.14: every Friday morning at his lodgings with ‘Mr Roure’s, Peruke-maker, in Oxenden Street near the Haymarket’ music could be heard. On 18 April of the same year he appeared in Hickford’s Room in the ninth concert of a series open to the paying public organized by Palma, performing many of his violin concertos. London sources occasionally call him ‘Carlo Tessarini il Catelgarreuil’; it is not known what this nickname means. From 1750 to 1757 he was again active, with brief interruptions, at Urbino Cathedral. On 6 September 1752 he gave a concert in Frankfurt; on 17 March 1761 he was again at Arnheim; and at the beginning of December of the following year he played at Gronigen. Between 1762 and 1763 his compositions were published in Holland, suggesting that he spent a considerable time in that country. The last information on Tessarini is a reference to a concert he gave at the Collegium musicum in Arnheim on 15 December 1766; after this all trace of him disappears.

Tessarini’s work is exclusively instrumental and consists mostly of sonatas and concertos. While there are influences of Vivaldi in his music, there is no more documentary evidence for his being a pupil of Vivaldi than for Fétis’s assertion that he was a pupil of Corelli. Tessarini began to publish his works at a relatively advanced age, and his productivity increased considerably during the course of his life. Already in his early works there are formal innovations, and the cyclical form of the solo concerto became the norm in his sonatas. Tessarini’s musical idiom, characterized by syncopated, cheerful, clear themes, often with a dance quality, provides an early example of the features of galant style. As a violinist he must be counted among the best of his age, even if technically, in his compositions, he does not normally go beyond seventh position. His violin method, Grammatica di musica (Rome, 1741), is one of the first such methods and contains specific information on cadenza and ornamentation practice. There are still no detailed studies on Tessarini’s output as a whole.

Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio (b Milan, ? end of the 17th century; d Milan, ?c1758). Italian composer, possibly an impresario, singing teacher and violinist. 18th-century sources (e.g. BurneyH; GerberL; GerberNL and La BordeE) blur the distinction between two or more musicians active in Milan by failing to give first names. Only the revised edition of Mancini (1777) supplies Giuseppe Ferdinando as the composer’s first names and describes him as a prominent Milanese singing teacher without identifying him with the violinist, composer and impresario also active in Milan. In fact a family of Brivios could be involved, including an older singing teacher, Carlo Francesco Brivio, who appeared in Milanese operas of 1696, Teodolinda and L’Etna festante, the librettos for which call him ‘musico di S.E. il Castellano’ (the castle commander’s musician). Suggested as Giuseppe Ferdinando’s father (Martinotti in DBI), this Carlo Francesco may have been the bass employed in the ducal court chapel until 1737 and then as a substitute singer until 1749. Recent sources (relying on GerberNL but based on La BordeE) credit Carlo Francesco with having taught Giuseppe Appiani and Felice Salimbeni. Since Mancini (1777) stated that Giuseppe Ferdinando taught Caterina Visconti and Giovanna Astrua, both Brivios may have taught singing at about the same time.

In 1720 the orchestra of the ducal theatre in Milan included two performers named Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio, a first violinist and a trumpeter; only the latter, however, was cited in a list of June 1711 naming the Milanese players in Novara for the festival of S Gaudenzio. Although the ducal theatre orchestra did not include any player named Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio in 1748 or 1765, a Gaetano Brivio played second violin in both years. It is generally assumed that the violinist Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio also composed operas and symphonies and served as impresario in Milan. Archival documents indicate that he was in charge of the ducal theatre for a relatively long time: 26 February 1727 to 13 October 1732. Contrary to reports in modern encyclopedias, Brivio did not assist Giuseppe Milesio or any other of his predecessors, and his successor, G.A. Rozio, was forbidden to use him as partner.

Perhaps because some of Brivio’s arias were used in pasticcios at the King’s Theatre or because Brivio’s pupils Giulia Frasi (according to Burney) and Visconti sang in these pasticcios, Loewenberg and others have supposed that Brivio was in London about 1742–5; no document proving a visit has come to light, however. Even though certain arias were published by Walsh, the pasticcios Gianguir, Mandane (both 1742) and L’incostanza delusa (1745; with music from Brivio’s earlier opera of that name) were not especially popular with London audiences.

Archival papers of the ducal theatre at Milan indicate that Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio was reimbursed for lodging Leonardo Leo (1740), the choreographer François Sauveterre (1748) and the prima donnas A. Conti (1753) and Columba Mattei (1754) at his residence in Milan. No known documents, however, verify his death in 1758, and no evidence has been found to link unequivocally some of the instrumental music published at Paris and London (1730–63) under the name Brivio with Giuseppe Ferdinando.

Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni (fl 1st half of the 18th century). Italian composer. He has sometimes been thought to be the composer of the opera Il figlio delle selve, performed at Modena in 1700, but according to Schmidl this results from a confusion of his name with that of Cosimo Bani. He may have studied in Bologna, since he was recommended from there to Corelli in Rome in 1711 (only Corelli’s reply to the letter of recommendation is extant). It has been assumed that he remained in Rome for some time, since his 12 Sonate per camera a violoncello e cembalo op.1 were published there in 1717. That year, perhaps as a result of this publication, he was made a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna. On the title-page of his Divertimenti per camera a violino, violone, cimbalo, flauto e mandola op.2 (Rome, n.d.) he is described as a priest. In 1719 he had a Cantata per la notte di Natale performed in Perugia; this may be the same piece as the Cantata per il SS natale di Nostro Signore Giesu Christo, for two voices and instruments, in manuscript at Manchester (GB-Mp). His opera Tito Manlio (text by Matteo Noris) was performed in Rome on 8 January 1720 and his oratorio S Rosalia at Bologna in 1726. In the libretto of this work he is referred to as abate. His 12 Sonate a violino e violone e cembalo op.3 were published in Rome in 1741. The set of manuscript sonatas (I-Bc) thought by Gaspari to be for keyboard has been shown by Newman to be for violin and continuo.

Roberto Valentini (Robert Valentine) (bap. Leicester, 16 Jan 1674; d 1735–40). English composer, flautist and oboist. He was resident in Rome and Naples for virtually all his professional life. The son of Thomas Follentine, an itinerant musician who had arrived and settled in Leicester about 1670, he was unable to secure a position as a town wait and so moved to Rome during the later years of the 17th century. By 1707 he was well established as a performer there, on both the flute (recorder) and the oboe, and is known to have performed during the period 1708–10 at the Ruspoli palace at events organized by Caldara, Corelli and Handel. His integration into musical circles in Rome is attested by the competent writing in his op.1 trio sonatas, which date from this period. Though showing evidence of an English training, specifically in respect of localized tonality, the overall style demonstrates a clear understanding of what Manfred Bukofzer referred to as a developed ‘bel canto’ style.

Valentine's first patron of any note was Sir Thomas Samwell (later MP for Coventry, 1714–22), whom he appears to have met in Rome and to whom he dedicated his op.2. His Divertimento for two flutes, which dates from this period, was dedicated to the Medici Gian Gastone, Grand Duke of Tuscany, which substantiates Italian connections before 1708. The works published after his op.4 ballettos (Rome, 1711) tend generally to have appeared first in Amsterdam or London without initially appearing in Rome – a result of his having established connections in Naples by 1715, specifically through John Fleetwood, the British consul there. His music written between 1714 and 1725 falls into two contrasting categories. The majority of his output consisted of music for ‘young practitioners and amateurs’ and was largely intended for the London market. Yet he maintained an output of more stylistically developed music, much of which remains in manuscript, but some of which, specifically opp.5, 6, 11 and 12, was published in Amsterdam and London. The best of this work, which tends towards the galant style, has much in common with the music of Valentine's Neapolitan friend Francisco Mancini, who shared the patronage of Fleetwood.

After Fleetwood's death in 1725 Valentine appears to have re-established his connections in Rome. In May 1730 he published a set of sonatas dedicated to the Duca dell'Oratina; totally distinct from the London set of solos published in 1728, it is among Valentine's most competent works. Although Valentine is thought to have returned to London in 1731, there is no primary evidence for this; however, the popularity of his music led Walsh to reissue opp.1–12 in London at this time. Valentine may have travelled to Amsterdam in about 1735, possibly renewing an acquaintance with Locatelli, who had established himself there in 1729.

Valentine's music is very much a product of its age and far from a mere simplistic imitation of Corelli. He possessed a particular skill for detached observation of musical styles. Rhythmic, melodic and harmonic features tend to be exaggerated, resulting in a style that seems clichéd to the modern ear. At the time, however, these features were more novel, and so, together with his popularity in Rome, he retained a secure popularity in the aspiring amateur markets of northern Europe for a period after his death. Hawkins compared him with Christian Schickardt as a composer of masterful works for the recorder and German flute.

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