The Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek in Dresden owns the world’s largest source collection of works by Tomaso Albinoni (1671–1751). Roughly thirty call numbers are reserved for autographs, contemporary manuscript copies, and early prints. This unique repository of sources is owed primarily to personal relationships between the Venetian composer and the Dresden court. When the electoral prince Friedrich August of Saxony during his grand tour stopped in Venice for the second time in 1716–1717, he was accompanied, among others, by the Dresden chapel’s violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, who took every opportunity to copy the newest compositions for violin. His acquaintance with Albinoni can be inferred from the dedication of a violin sonata and the existence of two further autograph sonatas by the Venetian composer in Dresden.
When in 1945 the old Elbflorenz (Florence on the river Elbe) was destroyed by British and American bombs, Albinoni’s autograph of the violin sonata dedicated to Pisendel was severely damaged by water, as were the other precious manuscripts kept in the lowest cellar of the Japanese Palace. Four Albinoni sources were lost entirely, among them the contemporary copy of a concerto that had not yet been published.
But before the destructive force of World War II reached its climax, the Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto (1910–1998) had begun to collect material for a comprehensive monograph of Tomaso Albinoni. Giazotto made use of the then brand-new reproduction technique of microfilming and between 1940 and 1943 ordered copies of Albinoni’s entire instrumental oeuvre from all over Europe. Unaware of the fact that he thus had documented precious source material immediately before it was destroyed, he sold his research material soon after he had finished his project.After a search of three years the editor finally succeeded in February, 2010, in tracing a microfilm at the Library of Congress in Washington which contains nearly all the photographs that had been made for Giazotto in Darmstadt and Dresden, among them the violin concerto edited here for the first time.
The original Dresden document was an anthology from the famous Schranck No: II. The original title transmitted in the old systematic catalog of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek and probably copied from the chapel wrapper read “Concerto a Viol. conc. con 2 Viol, Viola e Basso D dur. Part. sola”. The microfilm of this manuscript proves that this was a copy from the hand of Johann Georg Pisendel probably made in 1716 in Venice, apparently one of his hastily written travel scores. While the motivic similarity of movements one and two with concertos from Albinoni’s op. II from the year 1700 is obvious, the Dresden concerto contains more elaborate solo sections, which are characteristic of the Venetian composer’s late period and must have claimed Pisendel’s particular interest.
(translation by Stephanie Wollny)