Giuseppe Tartini
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Concerto in D major D.42
Ed. © Enrica Bojan

From the preface:

In drawing up this critical edition of the Concerto in D major D. 42, some fundamental factors limiting the critical and musical study of Tartini's work (which to this day are not dealt with as a whole), had to be considered.

Excerpts (click to enlarge)


First Movement


Second Movement


Third Movement

The large quantity of the material, and its dispersion in various foundations and libraries, combined with the similarly large quantity of non-autograph manuscripts written in later periods, makes the philological study difficult and impede the creation of uniform criteria.

This work, makes use of the most recent studies and modern methods of musicological research. It provides the player with a critical text faithful to the original both musically and historically, thus enabling a performance as close as possible to the original practices and style of the composer.

This edition has been realized by collating the two sources quoted in the Dounias Catalogue: the autograph kept at Padua in the Music Archive of the Basilica Antoniana, DVII 19023 and the manuscript from the Conservatory Library in Paris, Gran Fond ms.11228/26, P. Folio. Other versions of the score have not been used. Undoubtedly the work of copyists, these would not have offered important elements vis-a-vis the original autograph, which is here considered the main source.

The first source is made up of a title page and of seven sheets in quarto with sixteen staves each side. On the title page, a later hand has written the heading "Concertos by Tartini, score no.99". This number has been substituted by hand with 53, also printed further up the page. The autograph is, as always with Tartini, neat and precise. Only on the seventh sheet are there consistent corrections of the melodic line on the first stave; eight bars have been substituted by four different ones, written on the lower staves. Tartini, under these bars adds the indication principal and indicates the other two parts with primo and secondo. This correction is very clearly made, and does not allow for any misunderstandings. The deleted eight bars are the same ones we encounter further on, (b.180 onwards).

Observing the thematic symmetry of this third movement, one supposes that Tartini was about to forget one episode and, realizing what was happening corrected it.

The instrumental ensemble is not specified by Tartini which is a real problem with all of his concertos. Numerous studies on this subject have shown, that the number of players varied according to availability at the time, and the occasion of the performance.

The Paris source, is part of a volume containing a collection of concertos, and consists of seven sheets with fourteen staves each. Placed at the top of the first sheet is the simple title "Concerto by Mr. Giuseppe Tartini" without further annotations. The clean, tidy handwriting - evidently a copy - suggests that it is a later compilation. There are no signs of major corrections or cuts. As in the original, the instrumental ensemble is not specified, but the annotations Tutti, Solo and Soli are consistent with the first source.

This critical edition faithfully follows the original. The variations in the Paris source are listed in the textual notes following this introduction. No dynamic indications have been added, as these should be evident to the careful performer. Accidentals have been rationalized, and the eighteenth century practice of using a flat sign to naturalize a sharp, has been replaced with a natural to conform with modern practice. To present a modern graphical image, minor adjustments have tacitly been made.

The embellishments have been transcribed from the original, without suggestions for their execution. The eighteenth century rules for routine execution of embellishments and cadenzas on the crowned points, still constitute one of the unsolved matters in the study of Tartini's style in spite of the great violinist having compiled the Traité des agrémens for use in his school.

The detailed phrasing and articulation are retained; the performer might choose to find equivocal interpretations. Considering the instrumental ensemble, it should be remembered that the concertos were usually performed in the Basilica del Santo during solemn ceremonies. Tartini probably would have played the solo part (he had been "first violinist and concertmaster" in Padua since 1721). Documentary evidence and the Traité des agrémens show that he had at his disposal an excellent orchestra accustomed to perform on such occasions. This meant that detailed musical annotations were not required in the score.

The delicate and still unsolved matter of Tartini's instrumental ensemble will not be resolved here. However, on the basis of the original score, the passages marked by Tartini with Tutti can be assigned as follows: the first stave to the solo violin and the first violins in unison; the second stave marked with Soli to a violin obbligato (or to a group of second violins); the third written in alto clef to the viola (or to a group of violas), and the final one, in bass clef, to the cello and basso continuo. In the passages marked Solo and Soli, where there are three staves, there must be first and second violins as well as the solo violin, since all the parts are written in G clef. The contra-position of groups of instruments which aims to create a stylistic dialogue of sound intensities, recalls the structures of the concerti grossi by Arcangelo Corelli. However, in contrast, Tartini entrusts a considerable part to the solo violin; rich in agile steps and cantabile melodic figures adorned by virtuoso sections; especially in the third movement.

These observations do not apply to the second movement, written for three parts in G clef marked Solo and Soli, and entrusted to the solo, first and second violin. The second movement is similar to the style of Corelli's adagi with the ever present cantabile higher voice independent of the other two, which perform an harmonic accompaniment.

The part of the basso continuo, which is known to have been present, is difficult as no written part exists. There is no sign of it in the scores, and when basso is mentioned, it refers to the part and not the instrument. In fact, there is no trace of a figured bass. Studies tend to exclude the use of the clavichord, but some elements external to the original score, as well as other documents not strictly of musical nature, seem to confirm the use of the organ, especially in view of the fact that the concertos were written to be performed in the Basilica del Santo, a religious environment where the organ was sovereign.11 However, there is a consensus suggesting that basso continuo would accompany the passages marked Tutti, whilst it would be silent during the passages marked Soli.

In this edition therefore, the basso continuo is treated as complementary to the cello-part, leaving its execution to the discretion of the performer. One should be aware that Tartini, towards the last years of his life, preferred the warm, linear sound of the cello solo, to the harmonic overflowing of the keyboard instrument.

Translation Annelisa Evans, Kate Holmes


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Created: Tuesday, July 22, 2003, Updated Saturday, April 02, 2016
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