Critical Notes Series: Costanzi's Cello Concerto in D major

Costanzi - Cello Concerto in D major (Urtext Edition, Orchestra Score/Parts)
Costanzi - Cello Concerto in D major (Urtext Edition, Keyboard Reduction)

Giovanni Battista Costanzi (1704-1778) was an Italian composer and cello virtuoso. He entered the service of the famous Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni in 1721. In 1722, Costanzi was appointed to the post of violoncellist at S. Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. In 1740 he entered the service of Cardinal Trojano Acquaviva d'Aragona and, on the latter's death in 1752, the service of Cardinal Albani. He was also maestro di cappella at various churches in Rome: Madonna di Loreto in 1742, and S. Marco e S. Maria in Vallicella the following year. In 1754 he was named assistant to Pietro Paolo Bencini, succeeding him as maestro di cappella of the Cappella Giulia at his death in 1755.

Costanzi wrote many works for his own instrument, including 5 sinfonias and at least 12 sonatas for cello and basso (or second cello), as well as at least 4 cello concertos. Two of the four concertos are on the easier side for the soloist, lightly orchestrated with 2 violins and basso. Both of the manuscripts of these works are housed at the Alströmer-Samlingen, F major (150:17, complete parts) and C major (150:16, solo and basso parts only). One of the four concertos (G major, Schönborn WD 547) is in 4 movements in the “sonata da chiesa” style, with a slow first movement and a fugal second movement.

Costanzi's most noted work is the D-major cello concerto, once attributed to Joseph Haydn. The reason for the persistent attribution to Haydn even into the 21st century was that one of the manuscripts with Haydn's name on it arrived at the Breitkopf firm in 1772 and was cataloged in Supplemento VII. In fact, three of the four manuscripts that still exist today have Haydn's name on them, but the “Haydn” copies originate from a single source (Zittau model) as can be deduced from the common peculiarities. Under Haydn's attribution, Hoboken grouped this concerto with other cello concertos under the number Hob. VIIb:4, now VIIb:4*.

In the 1700s, it was common to see a work with different composers' names on manuscript copies. We see such cases with sonatas by Eccles and/or Bonporti, Berteau and/or Abaco, Costanzi and/or Vandini, and a violin concerto by Haydn and/or Hofmann. In the case of Costanzi's concerto, Haydn's name was probably put on the manuscript copy for marketing reasons. For stylistic reasons, Haydn's authorship should not be entertained.

While in the past scholars at the Joseph Haydn-Institut have questioned even Costanzi's authorship, we believe that this doubt should be put to rest. The sole argument for this doubt was that the D-major concerto did not match the other sonatas and concerto the concerto from the Schönborn collection in form, the other works being in the “sonata da chiesa” style, beginning with a slow movement. However, this is not true. The C-major concerto begins with an Allegretto movement just like the D-major concerto. The C-major sonata in the Frank V. de Bellis Collection at the San Francisco State University begins with a Vivace movement. The shortness of the F and C-major concertos may be accounted for by the technical difficulty level required of the soloist. Besides the Minuet and occasional Giga, Costanzi rarely marks other dances or uses strict imitation. Many Minuets are not marked either while being such in style. The finale of the D-major concerto is very similar in style to the finale of the G-major sonata (Schönborn WD 550).

Costanzi's D-major concerto was cataloged by the Breitkopf firm in 1772, however, the style of the concerto is more congruent with similar works from the early 1750s.

The concerto is full of long sequences we encounter in Vivaldi's music. The first movement begins with a syncopated theme that pervades the entire movement. Full of energy, the accompaniment often has a dotted rhythm. The slow movement begins with a stately ritornello theme, but quickly turns into a melody we could associate with Boccherini, Costanzi's student. The finale is abundant in Vivaldian melodies. The outer movements have the classical 4-tutti and 3-solo form, and the slow movement (in B minor) 3-tutti and 2-solo form. The outer movements do not have a developed sonata form, especially with regard to the double exposition.

The cello writing is idiomatic, much more comfortable than CPE Bach's or Haydn's writing even in the most virtuosic sections. The first two movements have places for cadenzas located before the respective final ritornello/tutti sections.

The first publication of this concerto came out in 1894 as part of Friedrich Grützmacher's Hohe Schule des Violoncellspiels under Haydn's name. This version, like many of Grützmacher's editions for Breitkopf, was recomposed. In 1924, Arnold Trowell published his own recomposed version with Augener as Haydn's “Second Concerto.” The work has also been published closer to the sources (under Haydn's name) by Schott (ed. Walter Schulz, 1948), Tenuto-Musik-EditionTenuto-Musik-Edition (ed. August Wenzinger, 1950), and Breitkopf (ed. Christian Klug, 1977). The last three publications are all based on the Zittau source that has Haydn's name on it. However, all three are still heavily edited with slurs, dynamics, and unexplained note changes.

Our new edition is based on the manuscript housed at the Musikverein in Vienna (IX 2345 (Q 16641)) for the violin, viola, and basso parts. This source has Costanzi's name on it. The dynamics are more detailed than the Zittau model. Since the solo part is not extant in the Musikverein, we used the solo part housed at SLUB Dresden (Mus.3356-O-505). We would like to thank both archives for putting these sources are our disposal.

Critical Notes:
In movements I and II the asterisk (*) marks places where the parts are inconsistent between the dotted rhythm and two equal sixteenth notes. We gave preference to the dotted rhythm. The asterisk is above the part that has equal sixteenth notes.

Editorial ties and slurs are marked with a dashed tie/slur. Editorial dynamics and other markings were provided in brackets.

Mvt. II
m. 30, viola: note 1 (appoggiatura) missing
m. 52, viola: note 2 is an F#4 in the MS

Mvt. III
m. 250, cello solo: note 2 in a D3 in the MS

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