Giuseppe Tartini
Prominent Istrians

Deutsch | Italiano

Concerto in E minor D.55
Ed.  © Enrica Bojan

Written by Tartini as a young man, this concerto offers the soloist rewarding opportunities to dazzle. In the initial Allegro, polyphonic writing alternates with virtuouso sections full of runs and double stops. After a brief cadenza, an island of calm is created by the short Largo for violin and cello solo. The final Allegro plays enchantingly with the sicilian dance rhythm, and after a final solo cadenza this charming concerto comes to a close.

From the preface:

Concerto in E minor D.55 was published for the first time together with 5 other of Tartini's concertos by the Dutch typographer Michel Charles Le Cène. It is not possible to establish the criteria according to which the courageous publisher put the six concertos together; but one can safely say that between the composer and the Dutch printing house a direct and continuous working relationship had been established at the very least since 1722.

Excerpts (click on image to enlarge)


First Movement


Second Movement


Third Movement

We do not have the original manuscript by Tartini of this concerto, nor do we know for certain that Tartini himself authorised the publication of his compositions. However, on the title-page of Opus One, Book Two, published by Le Cène one reads "Concertos [...] composed and supplied by Signor Tartini". Considering this, one can assume with some certainty that the publisher, by then famous throughout Europe, would buy and publish autograph works. The title page of Book One, Opus One contains no indication about the year of publication; however, critics think they can identify 1728 as the most probable date.

Further to the printed edition by Le Cène, there are four other known sources of concerto D.55:6 Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek, ms2456 O/I-II; Berkeley, (California), University Music Library, ms It.886; Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, ms 23G2; Manchester, Manchester Central Library, The Manchester Concerto Partbooks, item 60.

The printed edition by Le Cène7 is made up by five partbooks: the first four respectively for solo violin, first violin, second violin, viola. The last book combines the part for organ (figured bass) and violoncello. The part of second violin coincides, except for minor details, with the part of the first violin. The Cambridge manuscript, certainly written by a copyist prescribes the execution in unison of the parts for first and second violin. The figured bass corresponds almost entirely with the Le Cène edition, and it is for this reason that one assumes a direct derivation from the latter.

In the Dresden manuscript, also the work of a copyist, the instrumentation is not shown, and the bass is only partially annotated. The Californian source is made up of a non-autograph copy edited in separate parts. This manuscript is very different from the publication by Le Cène. Whole sections are melodically totally different and one finds two solo sections in the first movement which do not appear in any other sources. The bass part is not annotated.

The Manchester text has been described and commented by P. Everett, who pointed out its similarities with the printed edition and with the Dresden manuscript. An independent part for the first violin in the solo sections in the first movement is markedly different from the other sources in which the second violin doubles the first violin.

Everett advances the idea that Le Cène made use of a manuscript with this part missing. The Manchester text is therefore, in his opinion, the most complete. For this reason it was chosen as the main source for the present edition. Our amendments have been limited to modernisation of the grafical image. The embellishments have been transcribed according to the original, without suggesting the musical execution.

The original ties and slurs have been kept, even though they do not always appear quite coherent. The manuscript contains the separate parts for solo violin, first violin, second violin, viola, violoncello obbligato, violone and cembalo (with figured bass). These explanations about the instrumental ensemble are unusual in Tartini, particularly the presence of the cembalo: in fact the composer would only rarely indicate the ensemble and the word basso in the autographs refers to register not the instrument. In accordance with the Manchester text no amendments have been made to the instrumentation.

Translation Annelisa Evans


Main Menu


Created: Tuesday, July 22, 2003, Updated Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Copyright © 1998 IstriaNet.org, USA