ClassicalRap is a forum for discussion and information on classical music genres from the Baroque through the 20th Century eras in particular. Information will be provided on the various genres of classical music in these eras, and discussions will involve the lives of composers, their works, and standard and new recording releases. This is not a blog about Rap music.

Monday, May 30, 2011

If it ain't Baroque... (Part Two)

Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
Tempers flair sometimes.  Especially when a composer is a matter of national pride, or in this case, continental pride.  Here's how it went with the Adagio piece from the earlier thread here.  When I linked to the YouTube video, I made a comment there regarding Remo Giazotto (1910-1998) being the actual composer of the piece (even though the person who posted the video had already made that clear in the original post).  I received a rather angry and colorful comment from another viewer from France, suggesting that since I'm American (I'm not) I'm ignorant,  that Albinoni is an "ITALIAN GENIOUS who wrote this piece," and that it should go down in the "EUROPEAN MUSICAL HERITAGE"  I actually agree with that, since Giazotto was Italian, and was a great composer in his own right.  I returned a polite comment explaining how I had researched this from several sources online, and that he/she could do the same (as YouTube does not allow external links in comments).  I also suggested that since Albinoni didn't compose the piece it should be obvious from listening to his works.

I can completely understand this person's displeasure in my statement (not certain if it's a man or woman, but that doesn't matter, really).  I can imagine how tempers might flair if a person online from France suggested that a guy from Venice Italy was the true writer of The Times They Are A-Changin' (wrongly attributed to Bob Dylan).  Even though I'm not American, I like Bob Dylan's music, and I would be pretty miffed, but I probably wouldn't have employed the language this person did to express my displeasure.

I further believe that if I were of the nature this man/woman accused me - an ignorant American, who can't give credit where credit is due, I would not have dedicated an entire blog to composers of music, which for the most part originates from the European continent, with some exceptions as we get closer to the 20th Century and beyond.

The angry viewer also suggested that I change my original post, so obviously he was also a lurker in this blog - maybe the first.  Well why would I do that, when what I've written is most likely (with overwhelming evidence and little or none to the contrary) true?

Anyway,  here we are.  I intend to post a whole lot of Albinoni's works to make this clear.  Or perhaps it won't be clear, and Giazotto knew Albinoni so well as to be able to copy his style to such an extent as to not make it obvious.  I think there is probably some truth to this, since the piece was attributed to Albinoni until Giazotto finally came clean as to its origin, and even after that, the perception of Albinoni's authorship continued right into the last couple of decades (which I'll demonstrate below).  And after all, he was able to make the wrong impression stick for quite some time, apparently; enough to make the general public quite familiar with his piece, as lovely as it is; and to wrongfully acquaint it with Albinoni.

This post is the beginning of just such an inquiry.  I will also try to come across some of Giazotto's own works for a comparison, since I find this subject rather fascinating.  I welcome our elusive visitor to join us on our journey, since he/she is already an Albinoni fan, and seems to like Giazotto even given the incorrect attribution to Albinoni.  Therefore, he/she might just gain an appreciation for yet another Italian composer.

First, let's recap what we suspect and/or know from the sources online, as cited in the previous thread (there are others).  Giazotto was a musicologist, who studied Albinoni's works.  He claimed that he came across a fragment, which contained 5 measures of a bass line from an Albinoni sonata.  He claimed that he obtained this fragment from the Saxon State Library in Dresden, which was destroyed during World War II.  He claimed that he had transcribed the piece from the fragment, and his transcription was written in 1958 (not 1949 as I earlier erroneously wrote from information I found that was incorrect).  Later, he admitted that he had written the entire piece based on the 5 measures, and that it did not at all represent anything that Albinoni had written, except inspiration from Albinoni's actual works.  Also, Giazotto had the piece copyrighted, which would mean that if distributed as Albinoni's with name recognition, he would be able to collect royalties, which apparently he did.  I think this is actually rather ingenious if you think about it.

A little Background on my first encounter with this piece:  It was back in 1983 when I first saw the film Gallipoli  with some friends at a college showing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  I remember quite well, because it wasn't in a regular theater setting, but in an auditorium, and my friend brought along a male acquaintance, who very appropriately shed some tears as we were walking out of the auditorium at the end of the film.  I've watched the film several times since then.  I pretty much paid attention to this piece when I first heard it at that showing.  How could one not?  The film is a stunning work in itself, and the scene which features the adagio comes just before these young Australian men are to get their feet wet for the first time on the battle fields and in the trenches of World War 1.

So having really been impressed with this piece from the start, I eventually sought it out on CD.  I finally found it in a collection of Albinoni adagios (there we go with the continuation of the misattribution) on CD, which is available here.  And here is an issue that is really interesting;  I noticed that among all those adagios by Albinoni, this particular one seemed somewhat out of place.  I didn't think much of it, even though it was the only piece on the CD that didn't have an Opus number, and at that time I assumed the reason was because it was either an early piece (unlikely, given that it sounded quite mature compared with some of the other pieces), or that it was a piece published or distributed posthumously.  I left it at that, and didn't put much more thought into the piece until I came across information that it was not in fact written by Albinoni, and this displeased me because in fact, I had gotten used to it being among my Albinoni tracks.  Where was I to place it then?  You know I am quite obsessive when it comes to my classical music collection, so these things do matter.


Here's Albinoni's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 1 in B-flat major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, no. 1 - Composed - 1707.

In all of these concerti, pay attention to the adagio (slow and moving) sections.  We'll see if we can compare a typical Albinoni adagio with that of Giazotto's.

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 3 in D major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 3.

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 4 in G major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 4.

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 5 in A minor for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 5

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 6 in C major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 6.

To be continued....

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