Academic journal article Notes

Eighteenth-Century Chamber Music from the Spanish Court

Academic journal article Notes

Eighteenth-Century Chamber Music from the Spanish Court

Article excerpt

Gaetano Brunetti. Trios para dos violines y violonchelo. Series VI y VIII. Edicion critica Lluis Bertran Xirau. (Musica Hispana, Serie B: Musica Instrumental, 48.) Madrid: Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 2012. [Introd. in Spa., Eng. (including editorial criteria, description of the sources, and critical notes), p. vii-xxx; scores, p. 3-283. ISMN 979-09013192-5-7 (recte, 979-0-9013192-7-1). 35 [euro].]

Gaetano Brunetti. Cuartetos de cuerda LI 84-El 99. Edicion critica Miguel Angel Marin, Jorge Fonseca. (Musica Hispana, Serie B: Musica Instrumental, 51.) Madrid: Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 2012. [Introd. in Spa., Eng. (including description of the sources, and editorial criteria), p. ix-xl; scores, p. 3-392. ISMN 979-0-9013192-5-7. 40 [euro].]

It can truly be said that Gaetano Brunetti (1744-1798) has been a discovery of American musicology; at a time when the composer had remained forgotten for some 150 years, the slow process of recovering Brunetti's music was set in motion by Newell Jenkins, who recorded three of his symphonies in the 1950s, thanks to the Haydn Society, and it was mainly in the United States where Brunetti's music was first published through the 1960s; also, the first two doctoral dissertations and the first master's thesis on the composer were also written in North American universities. But Brunetti remains an obscure composer in the European panorama of the late eighteenth century, partly due to the scarcity of recordings, scores, and a long-standing and sustained scholarly tradition.

It may be useful to remember that Brunetti and Luigi Boccherini were the main composers active in Spain in the second half of the eighteenth century. Both were Italians and moved to Spain early in their careers, entering the service of the royal family in 1770 and 1769, respectively. Brunetti followed multiple career paths: he was a violinist in the Royal Chapel, maestro de musica to the Prince of Asturias, chamber musician, composer and, although he published only four of his works, he was the main provider of music at the Spanish court between 1770 and 1798. His extensive compositional oeuvre includes seventy-four sonatas, thirteen duos, forty-seven string trios, fifty quartets, sixty-six quintets, twelve sextets, forty-one symphonies and orchestral works, and twenty-five vocal works of different kinds. Together with Boccherini, Brunetti was the most prolific author of symphonies and chamber music in Spain in the last third of the eighteenth century.

Nevertheless, only twenty-four of his works have been recorded in the last twenty years, while four of his symphonies (the releases from the 1950s) are hard to find. At the same time, the scarcity of modern editions of Brunetti's compositions has effectively limited the number of recordings of his music and its diversity: there are two versions of symphonies no. 22 and no. 23, and three versions of no. 33, while only five symphonies (out of thirty-six) are commercially available nowadays.

I believe this situation is already changing. In 2012 and 2013 two recordings have been released (Gaetano Brunetti: String Quartets, performed by Ensemble Carmen Veneris [Lindoro NL-3011]; and Retrato de "II maniatico": Arias y sinfonias de Gaetano Brunetti, performed by the Orquesta barroca de Sevilla, cond. Chrlstophe Coin, soprano Raquel Andueza [OBS 08]); and another one is due this year (Gaetano Brunetti: Divertimenti para trio de. cuerda, Serie IV, performed by Ensemble Carmen Veneris [Lindoro NL-3021]). This equals the number of Brunetti compact discs recorded in the previous seventeen years: 3 Sinfonien performed by Concerto Koln (Capriccio 10489 [1994]); Siring Quartets, performed by the Schuppanzigh Quartett (CPO 999 780-2 [2001]); and Sei quintetti per due violini, viola, fagotto e violoncello, op. 2, performed by the Quartetto Sandro Materasi with Paolo Carlini (Tactus TC742701 [2002]).

The same goes for the editions: Newell Jenkins published twelve symphonies in the 1960s and 1970s (these were the first Brunetti editions since 1776: II "maniatico," Sinfonia no. …

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