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World Premiere of Anzoletti Violin-Viola Concerto in C (1915)

**Unveiling Marco Anzoletti's Hidden Violin/Viola Concerto Gem: An unprecedented novelty**

In the realm of classical music, discoveries await—hidden gems waiting to be uncovered and shared with the world. One such gem is Marco Anzoletti's Concerto in C major for violin/viola and orchestra (1 soloist), a masterpiece that has remained veiled for over a century.  However, on April 26, 2024, at 8 p.m., the Sinfonica della Città di Bari will proudly present the world premiere of this extraordinary work, marking a significant milestone in the annals of music history.

The Genesis of Collaboration

At the heart of this momentous occasion lies a remarkable collaboration between myself and Marco Misciagna.  As the owner of Gems Music Publications, it has been my mission to bring forward unknown musical gems which include the viola, and with each new work I showcase in my new urtext editions, there lie some challenges, such as writing the cadenza, fixing mistakes, creating a piano reduction, or as in the case of the Anzoletti Violin/Viola Concerto, creating the orchestration from an existing piano reduction by the composer.  Misciagna, a virtuoso of both the violin and viola, stands as the soloist entrusted with bringing the newly orchestrated Anzoletti concerto to life.  Marco Misciagna and I have previously collaborated on bringing another of Anzoletti’s concertos to light, the Viola Concerto No. 1 in F minor (1900).  This concerto (also originally in piano reduction format only and orchestrated by myself) was premiered by Marco Misciagna at Mahidol University in Thailand in June 2023.  Marco and I initially met at the International Viola Congress when it was held in Cremona, Italy in 2016, and as our friendship grew, I became aware of Misciagna’s love for Anzoletti and had admired his YouTube recordings of Anzoletti’s solo studies- music which is required learning material in the syllabus for violists at the Milan Conservatory.  It was Misciagna’s expertise in performing Anzoletti which led me to asking him to do the world premiere of the Viola Concerto No. 1 in Thailand, and subsequently the premiere of the Violin/Viola Concerto in C.

Navigating Uncharted Waters

The journey to bring Anzoletti's concerto to fruition was fraught with challenges, notably the absence of orchestral indications within the piano reduction manuscript.  I faced the daunting task of interpreting Anzoletti's intentions while infusing the orchestration with his own creative vision.  Reflecting on this process, I had to strike a delicate balance between staying true to Anzoletti's style and allowing room for interpretation.  It was a challenge, but ultimately, I believe I've captured the essence of his music.

I choose to look at the other orchestrated concertos of Anzoletti (only 2 of his 19 violin concertos in fact were fully orchestrated by himself while the rest he only provided piano reductions for) to get some background on what choices Anzoletti might have made.  From this observation of these 2 concertos, I was able to derive Anzoletti’s tendency to use woodwinds in pairs, and a seemingly full-sized orchestra.   However, this was not much to go on, and it was necessary for to me to base my choices on inspiration and imagination, letting the music speak to me, and somehow channel Anzoletti’s mind from the heavens to come up with what I did.  In this concerto, the music itself had parts that seemed idiomatic for the harp, and this combined with a general element of a 'French style' I was sensing in the music which led me to adding a harp part to the instrumentation.  In the Viola Concerto No. 1, I similarly added a celeste part to the orchestration based on a feeling from dreamlike parts of the music which screamed to me the use of the celeste.  Overall, Anzoletti’s music to me strikes me as 'late romantic' and best can be described as written by an 'Italian Brahms'.  There is no evidence of Anzoletti ever creating a score, parts, or an orchestration to either of these concerti, and the biggest challenge was deciding the size and instrumentation for the orchestra and choosing which instruments to play the notes found in the piano reduction, which had no instrument indications whatsoever.

A Symphony of Colors and Textures

Describing Anzoletti's concerto is akin to painting with words—a rich tapestry of late romanticism interwoven with echoes of Brahmsian orchestration.  Each movement unfolds in sonata form, with the soloist navigating a myriad of colors and textures, each instrument lending its unique voice to the narrative. From the soaring melodies of the violin to the soulful resonance of the viola, Anzoletti's concerto is a testament to the expressive power of music and a study in contrast between the two treble string voices.  The introduction of new keys in the analogous sections of the music, combined with the sonorities of the new instrument playing the opposite parts from the first section makes this piece incredibly fascinating to listen to, and it is wholly satisfying to experience how Anzoletti navigates this incredibly unique idea of a concerto with the violin and viola played by one person.

The Virtuosity of Transition between instruments

One of the most intriguing aspects of this concerto is Misciagna's mastery in switching between the violin and viola—a feat that requires not only technical prowess but also a deep understanding of each instrument's nuances.  As Misciagna prepares for the performance, he emphasizes the importance of proficiency on both instruments and extensive practice to ensure seamless transitions—a testament to the dedication and discipline of the modern musician.  A logistic concern unique to this piece is having to come onto the stage with two instruments and find a way to gracefully shake the concertmaster’s and conductor’s hands before placing the instruments on the table near the soloist.

Unlocking Anzoletti's Legacy

Beyond the notes lies the enigma of Marco Anzoletti himself.  Why did he pen this concerto, only to leave it unpublished and unperformed?  While we can only speculate, it's evident that Anzoletti was a composer driven by the love of creation rather than the pursuit of fame—a sentiment that resonates as an admirable trait with today's musicians.  It seems that Anzoletti was a man driven more by the creative process than his being a self-promoter and searching for opportunities to perform his own music with orchestra.  Based on the extreme level of virtuosity, and from what we know about accounts of Anzoletti’s abilities as a performer, it is very likely that he may have been the only person around his locality of Milan who possessed the technical abilities to perform his music, which explains why he may not have sought to get it published or distributed so others could play it.

The Possibility of a Five-String Instrument Rendition

One intriguing question is whether Anzoletti's concerto could be played on a five-string instrument.  I suppose technically it could, and it could as well be played by two different soloists.  However, both possibilities seem less desirable.  With the five-string instrument idea, the contrast in sonority written into the music would be lost.  In the two-soloist idea, there would be the problem of the soloist not playing to be sitting around doing nothing for more than half of the piece, which would be awkward for the soloist, and for the audience to see.


A Musical Revelation

As the curtain rises on Anzoletti's Concerto in C major, it heralds not only a world premiere but also a testament to the enduring power of collaboration and creativity.  In bringing this hidden gem to light, we pay homage to the legacy of Marco Anzoletti while paving the way for future generations to discover and cherish his musical treasures.  I can only imagine how pleased and surprised Marco Anzoletti would be knowing this piece is being premiered 109 years after it was written, fully orchestrated.  Soon, I will also be orchestrating the Viola Concerto No. 2 in B major (1915), and the Double Concerto for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra in D major (1906).