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Rolla Alessandro


per flauto, violino, due viole, violoncello e pianoforte

Critical edition by Mariateresa Dellaborra

Catalogue number: 13192 Score

Intended for a private academic context, the «Sestetto ossia divertimento» BI 433 by Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841) provides further evidence of the intense musical activity performed at different levels by professionals and amateurs in the Milanese environment in the first half of 19th century and it confirms the unquestionably primary role played by the musician from Pavia, first violin and conductor of the Teatro alla Scala orchestra since 1802, in the organization of meaningful concerts even in a private context.

The composition is actually conceived for six specific instrumentalists, engaged in a decidedly unusual timbre combination, only one other example of which can be found in the coeval repertoire, and it engages a flute, a violin, two violas, a cello and a piano intensively. Rolla himself used to take part in the performances, when he surrounded himself by willing students and gifted amateurs of considerable ability , as was probably the case with the addressee of the score, the nobleman Giovanni Ballabio, a former pupil of the famous flutist Giuseppe Rabboni, enrolled as a teacher in the newly founded music conservatory. Therefore a substantial repertoire was also performed in the either free of fee-paying private academies which developed in the residences of the aristocratic families, of the high bourgeoisie or of enlightened music-lovers. It certainly alternated fashionable pieces of transalpine origin (the performance of Beethoven's, Mozart's and Haydn's chamber music is attested) with autochthonous music, in order to highlight in turn the different performers whose interpretative qualities were well-known . The SestettoBI 433, retained in autograph copy at the Department of Special Collections Memorial Library of Music Stanford University (n. 884), possesses all such features. The three movements that compose it alternate cantabile and impassioned moments, in which the flute mostly leads the theme (like in the initial Andante), with more incisive passages where the six instruments perform the themes in a more compact way (Minuetto) and other more delicate moments when the cello stands out at first then the pianoforte and the flute (Trio) eventually prevail. The Tema e variazioni (Andantino mosso) favours the virtuoso aspect which is dealt with by the six instrumentalists with equal intensity. The variety and propriety of writing, the form and the combination of the instruments make the composition extremely interesting and provide at the same time a relevant insight into the Italian chamber music of the first thirty years of the 19th century.


per flauto, violino, due viole e violoncello.

Critical edition by Mariateresa Dellaborra
Revision of the flute part by Mario Carbotta

Catalogue number: 13194
Besides being a favourite choice for transcriptions and adaptations of famous works, the quintet composed of a flute, a violin, two violas and a cello acquires its own original repertoire between 1780 and 1830, particularly among composers of German origin (such as Gyrowetz, Romberg, Jakob, Krommer, Danzi, Hoffmeister, Kreutzer) although it is not ignor ed by French (Berbiguier, de Coninx, Fesca) or Italian composers (Giardini, Cambini, Manara, Lichtenthal, Zucchi).

Rolla's case is extremely interesting because, in addition to enriching the catalogue of such quintet, it provides further and meaningful insight into the Milanese academic environment within which not only opera pieces were performed, frequently interspersed with various instrumental musical passages, especially fantasias on opera themes or adaptations and reductions of symphonies or favorite pieces, but also original compositions, characterized by a frivolous spirit, but nevertheless strongly inspired and impassioned. The here presented Quintet BI 427bis, unpublished and not inserted in the Bianchi-Inzaghi catalogue of Rolla's music, is retained in autograph copy in the Music Library Northwestern of Evanston (Illinois), which acquired it at the beginning of 1970 from the Moldenhauer Archives. Devoted to Giovanni Ballabio, a nobleman and amateur flutist, as well as a patron of music, the Divertimento was probably written between 1820 and 1830, in a decade that seemed to coincide with the golden age of this musical form, and it is composed of three movements which involve the different instrumentalists, but particularly favour the flute, transforming some movements into soloperformances of extreme virtuosity. The second movement, the theme and variations on «Nel cor più non mi sento» from Paisiello's La Molinara, provides a further source of interest as it introduces, as is sometimes the case in Rolla's works, sections of variation on the theme, which alternate with original episodes in which the several instruments in turn are called to intervene.


(ms Dubrovnik) for flute and orchestra

Critical edition by Mariateresa Dellaborra
Revision of the flute part and cadenzas by Mario Carbotta

Catalogue number: 13056
Probably written before 1820, in the years when Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841) was teaching violin and viola at the newly founded music conservatory of Milan, and very likely conceived for a specific interpreter, the flute concerto in D Major qualifies as a particularly meaningful composition, not only within the scanty Italian instrumental repertoire of the early 18 th century but also with respect to Rolla's flute catalogue. Himself an admired performer, an impeccable teacher and an appreciated conductor at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan as well as a far-sighted cultural promoter, Rolla indeed constantly favoured the composition for violin and viola throughout his fifty-year-long career, only occasionally devoting himself to the creation of flute pieces intended either for soloists or chamber groups.

With respect to the other already well-known compositions, the concerto in D major possesses a further reason to arouse the public's interest as it is an unpublished piece, so far unknown to researchers (it is not listed in Alessandro Rolla's catalogue by L.A. Bianchi - L. Inzaghi), which has only recently been rediscovered in the archives of the Samostan Male Brace (Monastery of Minors) in Dubrovnik.
The manuscript copy handed down to present generations in score and divided into six separate parts in quite precise and accurate handwriting, confirms the stylistical features of the author, who, although starting from a tradionalist approach still connected to an already declining school, proves to be open to the new formal and stylistical trends of his time and able to moderate his taste for solidity and clarity of structures with melodic fluidity and virtuosity. Although considered by his contemporaries as «the creator of the viola sound […] which thanks to his fingers and bow was enriched with more than harmonious treasures», Rolla also fully masters the expressive and technical possibilities of the flute, thus offering virtuosos the chance to prove their virtuosity and cantabile qualities.


for two violins, viola and cello Op. 2 N. 1

Critical edition by Fabio Morabito

Catalogue number: 12966 Score


per due violini, viola e violoncello Op. 2 n. 2

Edizione critica a cura di Fabio Morabito

All'interno della produzione rolliana per quartetto d'archi, il Gran quartetto concertanteOp. 2 n. 3 ed il Quartetto n. 2 realizzano una situazione testuale del tutto particolare e, allo stesso tempo, estremamente significativa per la comprensione dell'opera di Alessandro Rolla.

Il terzo quartetto dell'Op. 2 (pubblicata nel 1824 per Ricordi) costituisce infatti un parziale rimaneggiamento di una precedente composizione dello stesso Rolla, il Quartetto n. 2, risalente ad una quindicina d'anni prima e mai dato alle stampe. Trovandosi ad approntare il set dell'Op. 2, Rolla recuperò questo suo quartetto rimasto inedito e lo sottopose ad un profondo interevento di revisione, per conformarlo alle sue più recenti concezioni di poetica. Tale revisione comportò la completa sostituzione di due movimenti (Allegro eMinuetto), mentre il tempo lento ed il finale (Adagio Rondò) vennero rimaneggiati, più che nella sostanza tematica ed armonica, soprattutto nella gestione dell'articolazione formale delle sezioni e nell'uso della scrittura concertante.

Questa singolarissima condizione testuale ( che rappresenta un imponente caso di filologia d'autore ) dà modo di seguire (attraverso un confronto sistematico delle due versioni diAdagio Rondò) come sia avvenuto il processo di revisione dalla prima versione alla seconda. Abbiamo così accesso diretto all'officina del compositore, che possiamo osservare passo per passo mentre corregge e riscrive una propria opera composta molto tempo prima. Si tratta di una prospettiva del tutto nuova per gli studi rolliani, che fino ad oggi non si sono mai spinti ad affrontare lo studio del processo compositivo e le relative problematiche di tradizione testuale nelle opere di Rolla. Infine, lo studio di questi due quartetti – vere e proprie fotografie della volontà d'autore ad altezze cronologiche diverse – individua alcuni parametri utili per la valutazione del percorso di maturazione stilistica e di evoluzione tecnica nell'arco dell'intera produzione quartettistica di Alessandro Rolla.


Op. 2 N. 3 QUARTETTO N. 2 for two violins, viola and cello

Critical edition by Fabio Morabito

Catalogue number: 12968 Score.