The complete preface, by Brian Jeffery
This fine trio op. 30 by Francesco Molino has not as far as I know been previously published in a modern edition. It has lain unknown until now. Yet in my opinion this is one of the greatest of all chamber works with guitar, full of originality and beauty. (And it is not particularly difficult.) A rich larghetto leads into the theme, stated by the violin (or flute, see below) with the other two instruments underneath. Variation 1 is given to the viola and guitar with rapid passages with the violin just commenting occasionally. In variation 2 the guitar comes into its own while the viola pizzicatos its way along, the violin just listening this time. Then in variation 3 the violin has shimmering runs. In parts of variation 4 the viola and guitar are again heard in duo. Variation 5 is busy for everybody. Variation 6 is again for the guitar, with running triplets that never seem to cease.
In the minuet, suddenly in the viola part we seem to hear a hurdy-gurdy, and in the trio the guitar shines. Yet again, in the rondo the guitar is given its fair opportunity, again once or twice in a short duet with the viola.
In short, it’s a work full of grace and elegance and humour, full of musicality. And the guitar doesn’t just accompany the others, it’s a very worthwhile part.
In publishing this work, I used modern means by first making it available in online form, directly downloadable online from Tecla. Now here is a conventional paper edition. Any guitarist who plays with other musicians will welcome the fact that it is now available.
I made this edition as a result of Francesco Biraghi’s suggestion and I am grateful to him for this very good idea. He was one of the first (perhaps the first) to play the work in our own time, and he was enthusiastic about it from the first time that he and his colleagues played through it. For more, see below.
The first performance from this new Tecla edition was given in the music festival at Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia, on 13 July 2004. The performers were Jelena Rokvic (violin), Ralf Dumler (viola), and Uros Dojcinovic (guitar). I gave a short spoken introduction.
Flute or violin?
Is the upper part for flute or for violin? In the original edition the title-page says “flûte ou violon”, but the part says only Flauto. There is no fingering for either instrument and the part can easily be played on either instrument. So was it originally conceived from the beginning as being suitable for either instrument, or was it with one or the other instrument in mind?
In fact we don’t really know. Molino was a professional all-round musician and familiar with the idiom of instruments in general. He was the composer of two violin concertos, while his trios op. 4 specify the flute, which shows that he was at home with the flute also. In the case of this trio op. 30, the words “flûte ou violon” on the title-page of the original edition to some extent have his authority because he was himself the publisher of that original edition (whereas if it had been published by a commercial publisher, one might have supposed that perhaps those words could have been there to increase sales). And it may be that we should not give too much importance to the word Flauto on the part, because although the word might have been Molino’s direction, it might equally well perhaps have been put there by an engraver, just for reference. In the end it will be for players to decide. My own opinion is that it is certainly suitable for violin because I have heard it very well done with that instrument, and that it seems fine for the flute also.
For interest, the instrumentation of the top part in Molino’s three known trios or sets of trios is as follows.
Trois Trios op. 4 (c. 1805-09): the title-page says Flûte, the part says Flauto, and there is no fingering for any instrument.
This Grand Trio Concertant op. 30 (c. 1823): the title-page says flûte ou violon, the part says Flauto, and there is no fingering for any instrument.
Second Grand Trio Concertant op. 45 (c. 1824): the title-page says flûte ou violon, the part says flûte ou violon, and the part contains some fingering which is specifically for the violin, not flute.
* * * * *
The Grand Trio Concertant op. 30 was first published by Molino acting as his own publisher and in conjunction with La Lyre Moderne, rue Vivienne no. 6, in Paris probably in the early 1820s (not later than 1824 because it is listed in the 1824 supplement to Whistling), as parts only, no score. This present edition has taken as its source a copy of that original edition.
The wording of the original title-page is: Grand Trio Concertant pour Flûte ou Violon, Alto et Guitare, Dédié à Monsieur François J.J. Snoeck, Professeur de Guitare et de Violon, par François Molino. Opera 30. Prix: 7f. 50c. A Paris, chez l’Auteur, Rue de l’Echelle, No. 8, Et à la Lyre Moderne, au Magasin de Musique et d’Instrumens, Rue Vivienne no. 6. Propriété de l’Auteur. Déposé à la Direction.
No changes have been made to the music other than such things as changing “Tema” to “Theme”. All fingering, ornaments, etc., are original. The notation in the original edition is careful in its details, for example the flute/violin part in the variations bars 103, 111, etc.
The music engraving for this edition was made by Alexander V. Trukhin.
A NOTE BY FRANCESCO BIRAGHI
Regularly active in the guitar-chamber music area, in the middle of the ’80s I was carrying out a survey in order to find additional works for violin, viola and guitar. At that time in fact I was involved in a good deal of concert activity with my “Art Trio”: one of our favourites was Francesco Molino’s Trio op. 45 (“Second Grand Trio Concertant”) in D major, until then only available in the old Zimmermann edition, but just in those years (1986) re-published in a facsimile edition by Tecla. Op. 45 had been usually performed or recorded in the flute-viola-guitar version, but I was persuaded – and still I remain – that the violin choice gives the work a more authentic atmosphere, mainly from the point of view of sonority. A couple of further reasons confirmed me in this opinion: the first is that Molino was a good violinist and viola player, even before being a guitarist, and the second is the clear indication “2e Corde” (second string) in the flute(!)/violin part of the original edition (second movement, “Romance”), almost a mistake that probably reveals the primary inspiration of the composer.
In the same facsimile collection Tecla published also in 1986 three small Trios (op. 4) for flute, viola, and guitar, adding new richness to this repertoire, but unfortunately the main chamber work by Molino (together with op. 45), that is the “Grand Trio Concertant op. 30”, was still absent; only in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris was there an incomplete copy, so that the work remained unplayable. I was once talking to Ruggero Chiesa (my former teacher in the Conservatory) about my regret at not having this work, and he suggested that I might try beyond the Atlantic Ocean, in the U.S.A. A few weeks later I succeeded in locating a complete copy of the work. At the beginning of the ’90s I was probably the only Italian guitarist that had this score! Unfortunately my concert activity with the old ensemble was over and op. 30 remained unplayed for some years in my collection.
A few years later I began to work with the new group “Lo Specchio dei Suoni” (“The Mirror of Sounds”) and I soon suggested to my new collaborators that we might read through some unusual scores, among them the unpublished Molino. It was love at first sight. From the very first reading op. 30 showed itself as a clear classical work, very well fitting the bowed instruments and quite virtuosic in the concertante guitar part. The beauty of the Larghetto in E minor, or the brightness of the G major Rondo, will not pass unnoticed to anyone! I have played this work many times with “Lo Specchio dei Suoni”, always with good results: I especially remember the emotion of a live broadcast for Radio Clásica in Madrid in 1999, in a wonderful Concert Hall of the Real Academia de San Fernando. The concert met with enthusiastic reactions both from audience and organizers. I have not yet had the opportunity to play this work with flute instead of violin: I think however that in this work, differently from opus 45, the double choice is probably a more valid suggestion, both for the liveliness of the melodic part, and for the G major key so bright and well suited to the wind instrument. Finally I want to thank Brian Jeffery who accepted my invitation to publish in a modern and reliable edition a work that represents, in my opinion, an excellent addition to the chamber repertoire with guitar.
(Guitar professor at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan)
The original Italian of this note
Review of this edition by David Grimes in Soundboard, 2006:
“Francesco Molino (1768-1847) is relatively unknown today, compared with many of his contemporary guitarist / composers. Nevertheless, his works do merit examination and more performances than they have received. While not probingly deep, they are very skilfully composed, full of natural grace and charm. This piece is certainly no exception; it has engaging melodies, pleasant contrasts, and interesting byplay among the parts. The writing is a fine example of the use of the guitar in classical-period chamber music. There are four movements: Larghetto, Theme and Variations, minuet (with Trio) and Rondo, making this a substantial work to use as a program anchor. The guitar part is not particularly difficult, but has some nice melodic turns as well as the expected textural and harmonic contributions to the ensemble. I would expect this to receive many performances and very warm audience reactions.”
Review of this edition by Marco Riboni in Il Fronimo, July 2005, in Italian:
Erano ormai diversi anni che il nostro collaboratore Francesco Biraghi suonava in pubblico assieme ai suoi partners cameristici – e con il consueto entusiasmo – il Grand Trio Concertant op. 30 di Francesco Molino. Ora, grazie all’intraprendenza di Brian Jeffery – editore da sempre assai attivo in ambito chitarristico – questa splendida composizione vede finalmente le stampe in edizione moderna e viene così messa a disposizione di tutti gli interpreti. E sì, perché finora per quanto ne sappiamo era il solo Biraghi a possedere una copia completa dell’edizione ottocentesca: da quanto possiamo infatti apprendere dalle note da lui stesso compilate a margine della prefazione di Jeffery, dopo avere scoperto che l’esemplare conservato alla Biblioteca Nazionale di Parigi era incompleto nelle parti e quindi ineseguibile, egli chiese lumi a Ruggero Chiesa che, nella seconda metà degli anni Ottanta, gli consigliò di cercare oltreoceano. Come di consueto, il fiuto musicologico di Ruggero si revelò proverbiale e il suggerimento portò a buon fine la ricerca. Biraghi ha poi sottoposto l’op. 30 di Molino all’attenzione di Jeffery che ha quindi provveduto a realizzare questa bella edizione.La struttura del brano è articolata in quattro ampi movimenti: Larghetto iniziale in Mi minore, Tema con sei variazioni in Sol maggiore, quindi Minuetto e Trio (col da capo) ancora in Sol maggiore e il solito Rondò Allegretto, anch’esso in Sol maggiore, che porta l’opera al suo compimento.
Il Larghetto iniziale è dolcissimo e fin dalle prima battute manifesta chiaramente la peculiarità di scrittura più spiccata del brano, ossia una strettissima concertazione delle parti. Il tema seguente ha una temperatura affettiva molto diversa e denota una icasticità tutta paganiniana ma, al contrario delle opere cameristiche del grande genovese, anche in questo frangente la chitarra ha un dialogo ben più fitto e amalgamato con i due strumenti melodici. Le variazioni vedono poi il consueto dispiegarsi di virtuosismi idiomatici per ogni strumento che incorniciano simmetricamente la struggente pateticità della immancabile e centrale variazione in minore. Il Minuetto esordisce invece con una saporosa imitazione da parte della viola di un organetto mentre nel Trio la chitarra assurge al ruolo di autentica protagonista. L’elegante e spigliato Rondò finale, dove la parte della chitarra si fonde felicemente, anzi quasi si avviluppa sopra le fini trame degli altri due strumenti melodici, conclude quindi il Grand Trio nella maniera più opportuna.
Colpisce di questa op. 30 di Molino la spiccata personalità: non può essere né di Giuliani, né di Carulli o Diabelli, per intenderci. Lo stile impiegato, quell particolare uso delle appoggiature così galante e carezzevole senza essere lezioso, la felicità e – ripetiamo – l’icastaticità melodica, l’intreccio fitto ma lieve e aggraziato della concertazione rendono questo brano difficilmente confondibile con le opere di altri autori, pur – se vogliamo – più dotati e famosi.
Siamo in presenza quindi di una composizione di ampio respire – a seconda dei tempi staccati potrebbe durare all’incirca dai quindici ai venti minuti, ossia metà di un tempo di concerto – ma, soprattutto, di un’opera che si può tranquillamente affiancare al riuscitissimo Grand Trio Concertant op. 45 o al Concerto op.56, vale a dire i vertici della produzione musicale dell’autore piemontese.
Un’ultima annotazione riguarda la preferenza dell’impiego del violino al posto del flauto, sia per la evidente idiomaticità di scrittura pensata per lo strumento ad arco, sia per il suo impasto perfetto con il timbro scuro della viola. Ciò non significa affatto che l’impiego dello strumento a fiato sia sconsigliabile, anzi Solamente il flautista deve essere ben attento a curare l’emissione e il fraseggio per non porsi – come dire? – in una posizione fonicamente un po distante dai due strumenti a corda.
L’edizione è, come di consueto per la Tecla, molto curata sia nella grafica che nella impaginazione (ricordiamo che è provvista di partitura e parti), con discrete ma sufficienti prefazione e note critiche compilate da Brian Jeffery. Per chi vuole servirsi delle più recenti tecnologie, la pubblicazione è anche acquistabile direttamente dal sito www.tecla.com con una semplice operazione di download.
Per concludere, quindi, siamo in presenza di un brano decisamente consigliabile e che ci auguriamo di sentire quanto prima in sala da concerto ma anche su CD.
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Copyright 2003 by Tecla Editions. Errors and omissions excepted.