Some example of what you will NOT find in the Catalogue of Solo and Chamber Music for Viola da Gamba
The Catalogue of Solo and Chamber Music for Viola da Gamba by Bettina Hoffmann lists works written explicitly for instruments of the viola da gamba family through the course of its historic development and which assign some soloistic role to the viol. It therefore has precise contours (discussed in more detail here) that lead to the exclusion of many pieces, even though in some catalogues, dictionaries, studies and editions they are assigned tout court to viola da gamba and have in part entered the repertoire of today’s violists. Here follows some example of what has not been included and why:
… because the viola da gamba is not mentioned or implied at all:
- Carl Friedrich Abel, 2 sonatas for violoncello and b. c. in G major (WKO 147) and in A major (WKO 148), ms., ca. 1782, D-B Thouret M 24 and M 25.
In the Knape catalogue the sonatas are recorded for cello or viola da gamba, but the original calls for cello only.
- Johann Christian Bach, Quintetto n° 2 in F major for oboe, violin, viola, violoncello and harpsichord or pianoforte in Deux quintettes op. 22, Amsterdam, J. J. Hummel, n. d.
The ‘viola’ part is labeled also ‘tenor’, a term that in England of the time designated the viola da braccio.
- Cristoforo Caresana, Responsori per la notte di Natale, Cantata per San Gennaro and other sacred works with a bass part sometimes labeled “Viola”, sometimes unlabeled.
‘Viola’ was in late seventeenth-century Naples the current and common name for the bass instrument of the violin family. Nevertheless, unfortunately, the ICCU records these pieces with the incorrect label ‘viola da gamba’.
- Dario Castello, Sonate concertate in stil moderno, Venezia, 1629, with internal parts for viola and for violeta
In works published during the 17th century, viola still indicates any bowed instrument – as Castello writes elsewhere – as long as its range corresponds to the part. Given the “stil moderno” of these sonatas a member of the ‘modern’ violin family is certainly the first candidate.
- Lelio Colista, Sonata for violin, lute and basso continuo in D minor, 11 sonatas for 2 violins, lute and basso continuo, ms., D-MÜs Sant.Hs. 1152
The separate part of the obbligato bass instrument in the entire collection, which also contains sonatas by English composers, bears the inscription “viola” on the title page, but in Colista’s sonatas this instrument is always referred to as “lute”.
- Rocco Greco, Sonate à due viole, manuscript, Napoli, 1699, I-MC 2-D-13
‘Viola’ was in late seventeenth-century Naples the current and common name for the bass instrument of the violin family. Moreover, from internal evidence in these Sonatas, it is manifest that it had a BBb string as in the tuning common for the bass instrument of the violin family in 17th century in Italy.
- Paspero Rasi, 12 sonate for an unspecified bass instrument and b. c., manuscript, D-SWl 4394
The manuscript bears the pencil inscription “viola da gamba” added by a much later hand. This attribution to the viol is baseless given the typically cellistic writing with some chords unplayable on the viola da gamba.
- Giuseppe Tartini, Concerto per Viola con Quartetto e due Corni accompagn: da Giuseppo Tartini in D major, manuscript, A-Wgm A 423 ms. IX-33952 (autograph)
In the Veneto ‘viola’ was the common name for the cello until the second half of 18th century, as we know for example from evidence regarding Antonio Vandini, a close friend of Tartini’s and a virtuoso cellist, who in more than one document of the time is designated as ‘maestro di viola’. Moreover, the solo part, especially in some arpeggiated passages, excludes an instrument tuned by fourths, while it can be played, albeit awkwardly, on an instrument tuned like the cello.
- Giuseppe Tartini, Concerto for an unspecified bass instrument and orchestra in A major, manuscript, I-Pca 1902/87
The concerto offers no indication about the solo instrument, but the historical context certainly suggests the cello. Moreover, a double-string trill in the last movement is unplayable on an instrument tuned by fourths, thus excluding the viola da gamba.
- Gaetano Veneziano, 7 Lezioni per la settimana santa and other sacred works with a figured bass part for “Leuto, e Viola”
‘Viola’ was in late seventeenth-century Naples the current and common name for the bass instrument of the violin family. Nevertheless, unfortunately, the ICCU records these pieces with the incorrect instrumentation ‘viola da gamba’.
… because the viola da gamba has no solo function in the piece:
- Antonio Bertali, 6 Sonatellae à 5 | 2 Violin: 2 Violae: 1. Viol: Gamba, CZ-KRa A 533
- David Funck, Stricturae viola di gambicae ex sonatis, ariis, intradis, allemandis, Leipzig, Jena, Rudolstadt, 1677.
- John Jenkins, Fantasias, suites and other pieces a 3, a 4, a 5, a 6.
- David Petersen, Speelstukken […] dese stukken werden gespeelt met en viool en bas continuo, waar bij gevoegt kan werden een theorbe, of viool dagamba, Amsterdam, 1683
- Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Sonata a 5 for 2 violins, 2 violas, viola da gamba and b.c., manuscript, S-Uu im. hs. 58:9a