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Early Music Review

Clifford Bartlett

April 2012

Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli
Sonate da camera a violino e violone o cembalo (1729)
Volume 1: Sonatas 1-6
edited by Michael Talbot
Edition HH (HH 280), 35.00 [Vol. 2 Sonatas 7-12 HH281, 35.00]

The Carbonelli Sonatas was one of the first King's Music facsimiles, the result of a request by Monica Huggett about 25 years ago, and costs 9.00. A proper scholarly/practical edition has taken longer to arrive than I expected, but here it is, prepared by a distinguished musicologist and editor with a wide experience of music of the period. Details of the composer's life have hitherto been scanty. He was born thirty years before his wedding to Elizabeth Warren (daughter of the organist of St Peter in the Tower) in 1730, having come to England in the latter half of the 1710s. He was leader of the Drury Lane orchestra from 1720-28 and then freelanced. He had also been in the service of the music-loving Duke of Rutland (father of the Marquis of Grariby still remembered in pub names). Later, with the Duke's support, he became a successful wine merchant, continued by several generations of his family (can any oenophile inform us whether the current Carbonell is a descendant?)

The introduction sketches the biographical material to be published as a separate article. His discussion on Carbonelli's notation is of interest, and the edition itself is fine. The textual notes are set out spaciously and include implications relating to performance practice. I made a point of doing so myself in my OUP Messiah edition (precedents were, to my knowledge, few) and I hope that other editors will follow the same course. Talbot exercises his conscience over whether to include a keyboard realisation; the simple argument is that, since there is a cheap facsimile and it is also available on line, those who prefer not to have a superfluous right-hand part and prefer fewer page turns can read the original. As always, HH has produced another excellent example of music that needs to be more accessible in the hands of a fine editor. Perhaps Monica can be persuaded to return to Carbonelli and record him.

We are grateful to the editor of Early Music Review for permission to reproduce this review
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