Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) was an Italian composer mostly known for his opera output. Cimarosa was a member of the Neapolitan School, an organization of 18th century opera composers in Naples, working alongside of Alessando Scarlatti. Cimarosa began his career by composing for opera buffa, and eventually completed up to 80 operas in various genres. During his career, Cimarosa traveled to Vienna and was exposed to traits of the Mannheim School, including elements of the classic concerto.
After traveling to Vienna, Cimarosa returned to Naples and completed his Concerto for 2 Flutes in 1793. This work is one of three Concerti he completed, however this is the only one of his concerti that features two soloists. While living in Vienna, Cimarosa was exposed to several traits of the Mannheim School as well as his contemporary, Mozart, including a new type of composition that emerged in the late eighteenth century: the double concerto (also known as the sinfonie concertante). This type of concerto was very unique since it combined elements of preexisting structures such as concerto grosso, solo concerto, symphony and divertimento ( 4). In typical concerto form, this work is divided into three movements:
- Rondo: Allegretto ma non tanto
This piece combines stylstic structures of Mozart and Haydn with Cimarosa's operatic melodies and themes. The opening Allegro movement is lively and high energy incorportating fast, staccato passages that allude to comedic opera. The following Largo movement represents a change in mood as the flutes engage in a singing operatic aria with flowing, lyrical lines. Lastly, the piece closes with a return to the original Allegro themes, only it is in 6/8 instead of 4/4.
I am comparing Cimarosa's double concerto with Mozart's concerto for flute and harp with orchestral accompaniment in C major. Both composers experimented with this new innovation of the sinfonia concertante and both produced successful compositions. Both concertos are written in the traditional F-S-F structure and both pay very close attention to melodic invention. These two works are significant for the time period because they mark the rise in importance of soloistic woodwind players.
I find it interesting to learn about the evolution of the concerto. In modern day performance practice, we are used to a variation of the concerto that was not always common place. These concertos mark a significant time in music history. Classical forms began to change, incorporating more progressive styles such as the double concerto instead of one soloist, as well as incorporating virtuosity and dramatic flare.
- "Concerto for 2 Flutes in G Major." IMSLP. Score. Accessed 01 May 2014. http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/d/dd/IMSLP95323-PMLP196268-cimarosa_concerto_2_flauti_score.pdf
- Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music. New York: Norton, 1960. Print.
- Knight, Kenneth. "Domenico Cimarosa: Concerto for 2 flutes." Program Notes. Canticum Novum Chorus and Orchestra, Feb 2014. http://www.sfcanticumnovum.com/Pages/NotesArchive/Feb14.html
- Toff, Nancy. The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Print.