The considerable fame that Bartolomeo Campagnoli (1751–1827) achieved during his own lifetime was largely due to his contribution to violin studies. The 41 Caprices he wrote for viola and the 7 Divertimenti for solo violin are still in use today. Campagnoli’s career as a concert performer began in Rome in 1775, continuing in a long tour of the courts of the capital cities of Europe. In 1797 he was made concert director and first violin at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, a post that he held until 1818, although he also maintained his contacts with the most advanced and influential cultural centres of Europe. He thus enjoyed a florid exchange with some of the most famous teachers and Nevertheless, there is an unmistakably composers of the time, in particular with Cherubini and Kreutzer. The idea that ‘true expression depends on the sound, intonation, movement, taste and aplomb of the measure’ was a constant tenet with Campagnoli, as was his insistence on the need to understand clearly the character of each piece in order to appreciate to the full the composer’s intentions. All this required respect for the exact point in which embellishments have to be added (without exceeding), because: ‘nothing is more beautiful and moving than what is simple’.
Karl Albert Tottmann (1837–1917) was a German musician and composer. Leaving the Leipzig Conservatory, he entered as first violin of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and in 1868 he was named director of the Vieux Théâtre Orchestra, remaining in this role until the end of 1872. Campagnoli’s 41 Caprices for viola were published in Leipzig around 1815, with Tottmann later adding a piano accompaniment. Capriccio No.17, a theme with variations in E minor, is the most musical and consistent of the collection and is particularly suitable for a performance as a concert piece; an alternative piano accompaniment for this caprice was later created and published by Grażyna Bacewicz. The 41 Caprices are the most important and well-known compositions by Campagnoli and one of the most important collections of violistic teaching. The studies deal with a wide category of technical issues for the left hand and for the bow, covering the problems of the solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire of the time, to the point of being defined as the ‘Kreutzer-Fiorillo’ of the viola. In studies Nos. 19 and 20 we find scales and arpeggios, in No.7 the slurred staccato. Octaves and other intervals, string jumps and arpeggios characterise Nos. 16, 17, 37; and the thirds and sixths are dealt with in Study No.2. The study of the cantabile is also very important, and in numerous caprices the rapid and technical part is preceded by a slow introduction which involves much legato and double chords (Nos. 1, 2, 24, 34). Many of the caprices end on the dominant, and this allows in many cases an immediate harmonic connection between one capriccio and the next.
Bartolomeo Campagnoli (1751-1827) learned his trade with Paul Guastarobba, a student of the famous Tartini, and with Petro Nardini. As a virtuoso on the violin he traveled Europe, where he held several important posts in Freising (Bavaria), Dresden and Stockholm, before settling as Konzertmeister of the famous Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig.
Campagnoli claimed for himself “the German learnedness with Italian soul”, and his works abound in lyrical melodies set into the firm musical structures of the first Viennese School.
The 41 caprices for viola were published in Leipzig around 1815, shortly after Hoffmeister's 12 studies for viola. It is one of the most important and well-known compositions by Campagnoli and one of the most important collections of violistic teaching. The studies deal with a wide category of technical issues for the left hand and for the bow, covering the problems of the solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire of the time, to the point of being defined as the "Kreutzer-Fiorillo” of the viola.
Karl Albert Tottmann (1837-1917) created a piano accompaniment for the caprices, which we hear on this recording. Capriccio no. 17, a theme with variations in E minor, is the most musical and consistent of the collection and became a favourite concert piece.
Played by Marco Misciagna (viola) and Marco Ciannella (piano). Marco Misciagna is one of the leading viola players of our time. He performed in the most famous concert halls of Europe such as the Berliner Philarmonie, Essen Philarmonie, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Mannheim Rosengarten, Meistersingerhalle Nuremberg, Prinzregententheater Munich, Arriaga Theatre in Bilbao, Musikverein in Wien and in the most prestigious halls of America.
Recorded July & August 2021 in Naples, Italy.
Booklet in English contains liner notes, and profiles of the violist and pianist.