Giovanni Marco Rutini: Sonatas
Review by John Collins

Giovanni Marco Rutini 6 Sonate op. 1 edited by Laura Cerutti, 6 Sonate op.2 edited by Giorgio Hanna, Sei Sonate per Cimbalo Op VIII and Sei Sonate per Cimbalo Op IX edited by Laura Cerutti. Published by Cornetto Verlag CP358, CP340, CP466 and CP467 www.cornetto-verlag.de

Rutini (1723-97 according to William Newman and Groves, NOT 1725-95 as on the cover of the Cornetto Verlag editions), was born and died in Florence, was probably taught by Fago and Leo in Naples, and travelled extensively with stays in Prague, Dresden, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Bologna and Venice. He published eleven sets of solo keyboard sonatas and three sets of accompanied sonatas; at least eight sets of the solo sonatas ate now available in either facsimile or modern editions. Cornetto Verlag have produced editions of four sets. It is well worth reading William Newman’s entry on Rutini in his book “The Sonata in the Classic Era” pp. 203-215 which helps to clear the confusion surrounding the opus nos. of the published works.

Opus one was signed in Prague and dated 1748. All of the sonatas are in major keys, D, F, C, A, Bb and G respectively, and in three movements, of which the first is Largo in nos. 1, 3 and 5 and Allegro in the others. The texture varies in no. 1 from thick chords to single notes in each hand, no. 3 is in mainly crotchet or quaver movement with written out tiratas and turns, in no. 5 there are some neat syncopations incorporated into the melodic RH line, no. 4 is in da capo form in predominantly two-part writing, nos. 2 and 6 are full of rhythmic variety, no. 6 containing some leaps in the RH and fast octaves and jumps in the LH. The second movements are Andante in nos. 1 and 6, the former having varied textures and rhythms with sextuplet semiquavers marked staccato, the latter having passages in the LH in octaves, a highly effective Recitative in the relative minor in no. 2, a Presto e Staccato with pairs of repeated semiquavers in the RH over quavers in no. 3, a Largo in no. 4 again full of textural and rhythmic contrasts, an Allegretto in no. 5 with passages in octaves between more tuneful sections. The final movement is a vehicle for virtuosity, the first being a lively giga, the second a through-composed Allegro with long trills in the RH over LH passagework, the third an Allegretto in 3/8 with big jumps in the LH with some of the notes at the top of the leap interlocking with the RH. Number 4 closes with a Tempo di Minuet with some sections marked piano, number five with another 3/8 Allegro with much rhythmic variety again, as well as RH octaves and a lengthy passage of LH broken arpeggiated chords with just a RH trilled final quaver in alternate bars. The final closing movement is another virtuoso Giga with crossed hands and big leaps, a real tour de force with which to close the collection. Even the slower movements require a well developed technique in places to bring off the octaves and leaps cleanly. There are several instances of built-in accelerandos through reducing note-values which are highly effective.

Opus two was signed in Prague but undated, and probably originated in ca1757. All of the sonatas are in major keys, C, D, F, A, E and G respectively. The first four of the six sonatas contain three movements, the other two have two movements. The general scheme is F-S or M –; the first movement of no. 2 is a most attractive Allegretto, others being Allegro, stated or implied (no. 4 is marked Spiritoso, no. 5 is Resoluto). The second movements are Andante (nos. 1and 3 in the relative minor) or Minuets (nos. 2 in the tonic major and 4 in the tonic minor). Final movements include Minuet and Trio (nos. 1 and 3, this being in 3/8 in triplets; there is a major printing error in the LH at the end of the first section), a gigue-like 6/8 Spiritoso in two parts, the LH being mainly broken chords, in no. 2, a piu allegro (than the preceding Minuet in 3/8) in no. 4, a rollicking 3/8 Allegro assai in two parts in no. 5 and a Haydnesque Tempo di Minuetto in ¾ with some nice touches in the minor marked piano in no. 6. As in op.1, there is a prevalence of virtuosity in the writing, including triplet semiquavers against duplets, and extended LH arpeggios in the first movement of no. 4, and trills on the soprano semibreve against an inner part in bars 29-30 in the first movement of no. 6. However, crossed hands and big leaps for either hand are absent, making this set more accessible but still providing plenty of challenges to test even the experienced player.

Opus eight was originally published in 1774 in Florence, all of the sonatas are in major keys, F, C, D, Eb, A and G respectively. Each sonata is in two movements, the first being either an Allegro (stated, or as, in nos. 5 Con Spirito and 6 Risoluto, implied) or an Andante (as in nos. 2 and 3). The second movement is either a Rondo (nos. 1 in F minor with a section in the tonic minor, and 3 marked Tempo di Minuetto), Allegretto (2), or Minuetto (4 and 5 which also has a Trio). The closing movement to no. 6 is a keyboard setting of the song Clori amabile. In the first movements there are many occurrences of the Alberti bass beneath tuneful melodic lines, occasional use of LH repeated octaves, repeated accompanimental chords in the LH in no. 2 and broken semiquaver chords in the RH over LH quavers in no. 4. Most movements contain figuring in the bass which has been realised and incorporated into the score in most instances although not in bars 50-60 of the first movement of no. 1 and 59-65 of the second movement of no. 2. Most movements also contain rhythmic variety, and several ornament signs are used including the double stroke to indicate arpeggiation. A few dynamic markings are included, possibly intended for performance on the forte piano rather than the clavichord which was not so prevalent in Italy at this time.

Each sonata of opus nine (no date or publisher details) is introduced by a short Preludio of no more than six bars; the semibreves in no. 3 are obviously meant to be arpeggiated, the double stroke appears over many of the chords in no.5 and in no.6 the arpeggiation is written out. All of the sonatas are in major keys, F, A, D, G, C and F respectively. All of the sonatas contain a further three movements, apart from nos. 2 and 3 which have only two, the first being either an Andante (nos. 1 and2), Allegro (nos. 3 and 6), Spiritoso (no. 5) with no. 4 being unmarked but probably Allegro. Again there are Alberti and murky basses, repeated LH notes and chords in thirds, with rhythmic variety being prevalent in no. 2. and arpeggiated figuration in no. 6. In nos. The third movement is a Minuet and Trio (omitted in nos. 2 and 3) being in 3/8 in nos. 1 and 4 and in ¾ in nos. 5 and 6. The Trio is in the mediant minor in nos. 1 and 6, and tonic minor in nos. 4 and 5. The final movement is a lively Balletto in nos. 1, 4, 5 and 6 and a Rondo in the other two; the Grazioso in Common time in no. 2 being melodic, the 3/8 Allegro in no. 3 being rhythmically based. As in the sonatas of opus eight, these also contain figures in the bass, most of which are realised here but there are no dynamic markings.

Full of galant mannerisms, these two sets of sonatas include some very tuneful movements and are far less demanding than those in opp. 1 and 2, (even the rapid semiquaver scale passages lie well beneath the hands, and the extended arpeggios are no faster than Allegretto) and reflect the growing demand for easier pieces at this time. However, all four sets deserve to be better known and played for pleasure or used for didactic purposes, with some of the earlier works not being out of place in a recital programme. The edition is generally well printed, although the font size used varies considerably between the volumes containing opp. 1 and 2 and those containing opp. 8 and 9; even in the same piece, for example in the first movement of the third sonata of Op. 8 some systems contain two bars whilst most contain just the one and in the second movement of the second sonata of op. 9 the number of bars in the system varies from one to three – confusing to the eye! The few mistakes are readily apparent. Unfortunately there is no information about the composer or the source used, but in this day of expensive editions, they are all most reasonably priced and provide the opportunity to sample the changing world of the Italian keyboard sonata during the Classic period.

© John Collins

Back to top

Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other Sites
Contact Us