The Bononcini family
Cool repertoire from the first era of Violoncello da Spalla
There are three Bononcini of interest to us. Giovanni Maria (1642-1678), violinist student of Marco Uccellini and author of “Primi frutti del Giardino musicale” and the famous treatise “Il Musico Prattico”, which was translated and diffused in all Europe and taken as a model (or today we would say “copied”) from Walther and Mattheson.
His two sons Giovanni (1670-1747) and Antonio Maria (1677-1726) were both famous cellists and composers, while the last son, Giovanni Maria Angelo, born a few months after the death of his father, was lesser known.
I’d like to share two interesting papers abut them which give lot of thinking and practicing material to us da Spalla cellist.
The first, by Brent Wissick: “The Cello Music of Antonio Bononcini: Violone, Violoncello da Spalla, and the Cello “Schools” of Bologna and Rome”, published in 2006 and downloadable at this link.
The second, “The violoncellos of the Bononcini brothers” by Marc Vanscheeuwijck that you can download at this link.
They are a pleasant read that do not need many comments.
B. Wissick writes on the development of their way of playing the cello from Spalla to gamba, and the development of the bow hold from underhand to overhand, with an analysis on the consequences on their music style (or, even more interesting, how from the writing style we can tell which was the case).
M. Vanscheeuwijck is a resource of news and datas, even if his idea that you cannot play virtuosic parts on the Spalla, so they were playing gamba is opposed to that of Wissick. It is founded on the iconography of the time, which shows big violin basses played on Spalla and small cellos played vertically, so to the idea that only big basses were played horizontally and not small ones. I would be not totally sure of this, as most of this iconography is a bit too early to be applied to the Bononcini brothers, and if a big bass can be played horizontally, probably also a small one can, and is more virtuosic…
The life of the Bononcini has been fascinating and very baroque, if you pass me this simple adjective.
After reading these two articles, it stayed with me the image of the young Antonio, 15 years old, already a member of the Accademia di San Petronio in Bologna, realizing the continuo, the harmony, playing tremolo double stops on his little cello. That would be interesting material to practice and maybe also to perform.
News from da Spalla world
My Violoncello da Spalla is now at Brobst Violin Shop, Alexandria VA, close to Washington DC. It is touring with the wonderful Celebrating Women Luthiers international exhibit. Book a try or come next Saturday, the 9th of April, to the “try and meet the makers” session. Yes, I will be there too!
Updates from our workshop
Alessandro is making a viola following the Ashmolean Gasparo, while I made joints for our next two violoncellos da spalla.
Featured video of the week
Rejoice with this Allegro by J. B. Barriere with François Fernandez at the Spalla!