Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) Introduzione e Tema con Variazioni in Bb major
edited by Nicolai Pfeffer [clar,orch] duration: 15'
solo: clar – 188.8.131.52. – 184.108.40.206. – str
Introduzione e Tema con Variazioni for clarinet and orchestra has long since carved a lasting niche in the clarinet repertoire. The composition is an impressive example of Italian bel canto writing with a refreshing alternation between the clarinet’s lyrical qualities and a virtuoso lightness and exuberance.
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The only printed source is a set of parts published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1823. The variations are perfectly idiomatic for the instrument. Moreover, the edition will increase the performance opportunities: Additional to the original setting, the score and parts offer the possibility for a performance with string orchestra only.
Here you may browse in our edition MR 2290a.
Forward from the piano reduction
Introduzione e Tema con Variazioni for clarinet and orchestra has long since carved a lasting niche in the clarinet repertoire. Presumably, the work was composed around 1819 in Naples and it is– as previously his Andante e Tema con variazioni in C – dedicated to the clarinetist Alessandro Abate, a composition student of Rossini. Abate was a professor of clarinet in Naples and, in the period between 1815 and 1816, he also worked as the first clarinetist of the Teatro La Munizione. Unfortunately, the exact date of the premiere, as well as other circumstances concerning the genesis, can no longer be determined beyond doubt. However, through a letter to the composer by the violinist Ferdinando Giorgetti of 29 March 1852, we learn that the variations “were composed with true modesty only for pleasure and to fulfill the wish of an old friend.”1
The lasting popularity of the composition may also be based on the fact that Rossini drew on two own, very popular opera themes of his Neapolitan era: Thus, the beautiful variation theme is from his melodrama La donna del lago (Act 1, Cavatina “Oh quante lagrime”) whereas the theme of the introduction is from the aria “La pace mia smarrita” from the second act of the opera Mosè in Egitto. The present piece is an impressive example of Italian bel canto writing with a refreshing alternation between the clarinet’s lyrical qualities and a virtuoso lightness and exuberance. A set of parts for the work is housed today in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (shelfmark: Mus. 5749)2 and comprises the prints of the individual parts of the orchestral ensemble as well as the solo clarinet. This is the principal source of this edition. However, a piano reduction with the plate number 3978, also published by Breitkopf & Härtel, has not been transmitted.
The present edition reproduces the musical text of the first edition according to presentday engraving rules. Obvious printing errors and unmistakably missing dynamics and phrasings were corrected or supplemented without comment by the editor, likewise with a few cautionary accidentals wherever it seemed helpful. In the individual parts of the source, the transitions between the variations were problematic, in part because of a surplus of rests. These passages were also carefully corrected, and an optimized, unmistakable repeat structure was established.
I extend my warmest thanks to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin for kindly putting the source copies at my disposal. Thanks go also to the musicologist and clarinetist Adriano Amore for his expert advice.
Cologne, Fall 2018 Nicolai Pfeffer
1 1 Albert R. Rice, Notes for Clarinetists: A Guide to the Repertoire, New York, 2017, pp. 173ff.
2 Title page: Variations | pour la | Clarinette | avec accompagn’ de l’Orchestre | ou de | Pianoforte | composées | par | G. ROSSINI | À Leipsic | Chez Breitkopf & Härtel.