Göttweig: Alternate Readings

The Göttweig Suites for Viola d'Amore solo, alternate readings I. The notes are not the music!

July 5, 2016 I have only spent 12 days with this new edition of previously unknown works for viola d'amore, just published by Helbling.


Upate, Dec. 1, 2016. There are now three pages of alternative critical notes. A big thank you to Elena Kraineva and others for checking the critical notes for accuracy. Please let me know of any mistakes you may find.

I'd like to share with you the interesting things I find, and would also like to hear from others who are making discoveries in this repertoire. Please let me know what you are making of this new edition, by emailing me thomasgeorgi(at)rogers.com, or sending me a message of facebook. I am particularly interested to discover possible attributions to composers, and also other versions of these works, even without attributions. It seems to me possible that these works may exist in versions for violin, viola da gamba, and even perhaps, lute. Possible composers to consider might be ones like Ganspeckh, Majr, Aufschnaiter, Biber, Pez. But keep an open mind, because the first attributions I was able to make for certain was to Attlio Ariosti. He did spent time in Vienna, where a number of his operas were performed from 1704-1709.

The webpage for the library holding this manuscript of 24 solos for the viola d'amore, catalog number HS 4806, is here. According to the introduction, 3 volumes of lute music in French tablature were long known to be located at this collection, but it was only recently that the 3rd volume, which had been a mystery to lute players, was noticed for what is was, 196 pages of music for viola d'amore, written, in my opinion, between 1680 and 1720. I will have to say more about the forms of notation unique to this manuscript later.

Through most of the 196 pages the basso part is on the left hand page, the solo viola d'amore part on the right hand page.

One of the first things I noticed, is that three movements in this amazing 4 volume publication of 24 works, were movements I already knew from my complete recording of the works for viola d'amore of Attilio Ariosti. Here is one of them, first as it is in  the first volume of Marianne Ronez's new edition:

And below is the same movement, in an edition I made for my recording. The source for this version of the movement is page 61 of the Recueil de Pièces poul la Viole d'Amour, composée par Mr. Attilio Ariosti. This manuscript is in the State Music Library of Sweden, in Johan Roman database. RO:99, the manuscript copy of the works of Ariosti that Johan Roman made in one of his visits to London in the 1710's, it used to be online. Today, July 5, 2016, I was unable to find it online. (Both the Gottweig HS 4806, source for Marianne's edition, and Johan Roman's manuscript of Ariosti's works for viola d'amore, Ro.99 are sole surviving sources, unique versions of their pieces.)


I have scribbled on my edition asterixs at some of the moments that are different. To sum it up, version of the movement in the lower score has a real movement title, Allegro. In the lower version changes have been made to both the solo and to the bass part,  musical changes that to my mind intensify the expression of the piece. In the solo viola d'amore part double stops and divisions are added. In the bass part the harmony of the upper, or Gottweig, version is respected, but often the part has added motion, mostly by division, but sometimes by actual recomposition.

By the way, you can hear this movement or download it here: eclassical.

Most interesting to me at the two points where the music is extended. A whole bar is added to the end of the A section, bar 9 in the lower score, while in the B section two bars of dominant pedal are inserted, bar 17. Personally, I think further elaboration in the viola d'amore part of this dominant pedal would be just fine. The variations between these two versions of the smae movement confirm for me my view that the public parts of a composition of this time are the cadences and the pedal points, or cadenzas. These are the points where the player should feel free to show his hand.


I find the differences between the two versions of the same movement kind of liberating. Even in something as modest as this movement, the notes are not the music! Here are ways to change the notes but not the music?


Here is another movement identical to a work of Ariosti, the third movement from Gottweig Suite V:


I don't have space to put the whole of the movement up on this page, sorry. Nor room enough for the corresponding one as realized in the Roman manuscript that is the source for the Ariosti Stockholm Sonatas. The two viola d'amore versions are very similar, but contrast the two basso versions!

It seems to me that whoever, Ariosti, perhaps, was happy enough with his solo part, but wanted to give the bass part the points of imitation with the solo part, to make it, as it were, more of a conversation with the solo part. The harmonies are not changed, but the basso part imitations makes in my opinion quite a different character to the piece. I wonder if the Roman manuscript version, which he attributes to Ariosti, was intended to be played by a bowed bass rather than a keyboard?


So far I have proposed two movements of the Gottweig suites might be attributed to Ariosti. In the first, the changes we find in the Roman manuscript seem to me changes that reflect the freedoms of the players of the time to ornament and repeat things in the music with some degree of freedom, to intensify the expression of the music. In my second example, the rondo, however, the changes made to the bass part seem like a real compositional reworking of the music.


There is one more movement by Ariosti, that I have noticed, here it is. This Gigue appears on page 47 of volume 4. Here it is in G major, and in 6/8 time.


And also appears as Giga, but in D, and in 12/8, as the third movement of the 6th Lesson by Ariosti. You can find the facsimile of this in the back of The Viola d'Amore by Harry Danks, in the facsimile of the Ariosti Cantatas and Lessons, published by Forni, I see that there is a verson for violin and piano by George St George on Imslp.

Here is the edition I prepared for my own use on my recording, Bis. 1535.


There are two main things I'd like to direct your attention to.


First of all, notice how very little the scordatura notation was changed! Maybe having to rewrite scordatura to suit the arrangement for violin that is what the Lessons for the Viola d'amore are, would have been too much work?


Secondly, in the second section, where the Gottweig version gets into string crossings, the Lesson version is vastly simplified, compared to the Gottweig version. There are only 9 bars in the Lesson B section, and a full third of them are just dominant pedal, first in the bass, then in the solo part, 3 1/2 bars, really, from the middle of bar 11 to bar 15.


Was Ariosti here just cutting compositional corners at the end of a six lesson long exercise of arranging old viola d'amore material for the viola d'amore? Simplifying the technical demands for the gentleman amateur fiddle players who bought his Cantatas and Lessons by subscription?


These three movements, two from Suite V in Vol. 1, and one for Vol. 4 of the complete edition of the Gottweig suites, are the only ones I have found so far where I am sure I can make an attribution. It does seem to me possible that some other movements in these suites are by Ariosti. The Air that is the second movement of Suite V has an Ariosti feel to it, for example. However, I cannot help wondering if the suites may include movements from an number of composers. In terms of this, I'd like to point out that neither the Gottweig manuscript nor the Johan Roman manuscript Ro.99, neither of them are divided into Suites. Both of them are just collections of movments, that loosely fall into suites by tuning.


I find that a number of other suites that seem very similar to other works I already know, just like this Air. JC Pez and Grob are two known viola d'amore composers, that seem expeclally likely to be represented in Gottweig, the way I hear it, at least. In future pages I will set out these connections as best I can make them.