Item #39534 VIII Sonate Per Cembalo Opera Prima. Domenico ALBERTI.

VIII Sonate Per Cembalo Opera Prima

London: J. Walsh, 1748.

Oblong folio. Modern carta rustica. 1f. (recto title, verso blank), [i] (blank), 2-18, [i] (blank), 20-27, [i] (blank) pp. Engraved throughout.

Ownership inscription in ink of late Romantic priest, church musician, and writer on music Henry Aston Walker (1834-1906), Vicar of Chattisham, Ipswich and choirmaster at St. Alban's, Holborn from 1862-1899.

First and last leaves slightly worn and soiled; minor repair to outer margin of final leaf.

First authorized edition. Smith and Humphries 15. BUC p. 16. RISM A653.

Alberti was an Italian composer, harpsichordist, and singer. "[His] claim to historical recognition rests traditionally on his harpsichord sonatas, in which the arpeggiated bass that lent his name a posthumous notoriety is a prominent feature (see Alberti bass). In his lifetime, however, Alberti was equally famous as a singer and as a performer (sometimes as self-accompanist) on the harpsichord. ... Of his non-musical career little is recorded except that he served the Venetian ambassador, Pietro Andrea Cappello, as a page on a visit to Spain about 1736, provoking Farinelli's admiration of his singing, and subsequently joined the household of Marquis Giovanni Carlo Molinari in Rome. His harpsichord sonatas are generally believed to date from these last years. ... Alberti's sonatas survive in manuscripts as complete works and isolated movements and it is not yet possible to state accurately how many survive, although the number probably exceeds 40. Eight sonatas, constituting the so-called op.1, were published by Walsh in 1748 in response to an act of flagrant plagiarism by Alberti's former pupil, the castrato Giuseppe Jozzi (c1710–c1770), which became a cause célèbre. (Jozzi continued the deception after his removal to Amsterdam.) All Alberti's sonatas follow the two-movement scheme popular with contemporary Italian keyboard composers. The two movements are contrasted in character rather than tempo; although both are cast in binary form, that of the first often prefigures sonata form, whereas the second retains the modest proportions and uncomplicated design of a dance movement." Michael Talbot in Grove Music Online

While Alberti did not invent the arpeggiated bass figure to which he lends his name today, he does use it quite frequently in his sonatas. It may have been one of his preferred rhythmic devices when accompanying himself at the harpsichord. Whether the music is slow or brisk, the figuration is most often used to complement cantabile (i.e. singing-like) passages. It serves to guide the ear as the narrative of a piece unfolds. Sonata II, for instance (p. 4) begins with a forthright theme, constructed over a romanesca bass (a common baroque and classical harmonic gambit, similar to the Pachelbel canon). Soon after the statement of the theme (over a walking eighth-note bass), the familiar four-note arpeggios commence. Alberti then develops it by repeating fragments of its melody, and reshaping its contours over new harmonies. His style of repetition when developing material is unpredictable, a welcome contrast to the familiar quality of his musical vocabulary. As Sonata II wears on, Alberti introduces more and more distant harmonies: A flat and D flat major chords, in the key of F major. Keyboard players and listeners today may find that elements of Alberti's style are reminiscent of later musical styles. The Alberti bass brings to mind the classical sonata of the 1770s-1790s. Alberti's harmonic explorations are bold, unexpected, and even Romantic-sounding, at times, like the exotic turns of phrase that adorn Robert Schumann's 1838 piano piece "Von fremden Ländern und Menschen."

A landmark publication in the history of the keyboard sonata, replete with Alberti's rich harmonic imagination.

Item #39534

Price: $1,500.00  other currencies

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