Exploring François Xavier Tourte (1747–1835)
Exploring a wonderful bow by Tourte, from the collection of Charles Beare, with the help of Pierre Baillot.
THE PRELUDE AND THE CADENZA, HEARD WITHOUT INDULGENCE. The prelude and the cadenza, both children of the imagination, must concern themselves with respondinng appropriately to its call, for once the artist has undertaken them, they become for him one more hidden danger or one more cause for triumph; if he has the misfortune not to succeed, others are less indulgent since they know that he could have avoided taking the chance in the first place. Pierre Baillot (l’Art du Violon P.331)
Pierre Marie François de Sales Baillot (1 October 1771 – 15 September 1842)-24 Preludes
Peter Sheppard Skaerved-WORKSHOP RECORDINGS
No.1 C Major
No 2.A minor
No 3. F Major
No 4. D minor
No 5. B flat MajorPrelude 5
Prelude 6.G minor
Prelude 7. E flat Major
Prelude 8. C minor
Prelude 9.A flat Major
Prelude 10.F minor
Prelude 11.D flat Major
Prelude 12. B flat minor
Prelude 13 F sharp Major
Prelude 14. D sharp minor
Prelude 15. B Major
Prelude 16. G sharp minor
Prelude 17. E Major
Prelude 18. C sharp minor
Prelude 19. A Major
Prelude 20. F sharp minor
Prelude 21. D Major
Prelude 22. B minor
Prelude 23. G Major
Prelude 24. C major and Coda
Baillot allocated considerable space to ‘preludes and cadenzas’ in l’Art du Violon, giving both chordal and melodic examples in all the keys. At the beginning of the 20th chapter he quoted Castil-Blaze’s Dictionnaire de Musique Moderne :
“The prelude is a melodic passage which moves through the principal chords of the key in order to introduce the key, to command silence, to verify that the instrument is in tune and to prepare the ear for what one is going to play.”
Baillot was influenced by Bartolomeo Campanogli’s (1751-1827) extraordinary l’Art d’Inventer Op 17, published in Paris in 1805. This consisted of a collection of 246 ‘amusing and useful’ ‘cadenzas, preludes and fantasias’ in all the keys. Campagnoli’s exhaustive primmer was organised by relative major and minor keys, providing all the material a musician might need to survive in the world of improvisation and preluding.
It is unclear whether Baillot’s examples are models, or ‘clip-on’s, to be slotted in where needed. Baillot included an unlabelled set of cadenzas for Viotti’s Concerto No 22, dedicated to Cherubini. His cadenzas ‘without theme’, looking forward to Stockhausen’s omnipurpose Cadenza 150 years later, infer that he was confronting students whose improvising skills had atrophied.
Viotti’s teacher, Pugnani, was noted for the freedom of his improvisation:
“…once, when playing a cadence before a large audience, he quite forgot himself, and walked about in the middle of the room till he had finished it, quite unconscious that he was not alone. On another occasion, he said to a friend near him, ‘Pray that I get safely back.’
Baillot himself was one of the last orchestral leaders to improvise in the midst of symphonic works. Modern classical players are unwilling to play extempore, and seem unaware that this was part of their tradition. Beethoven’s famous oboe cadenza in the Symphony No 5 was unique in being written out; even the sublime solo violin writing of the slow movement of his Violin Concerto or the Benedictus from the Missa Solemnis might be seen not so much as formal concertantes but exemplars of what happened anyway.
Perhaps, the result of the new systemised technical training was that the skill had been lost. Baillot’s carefully schooled students had lost the gift of improvising, and new performance circumstances did not provide opportunity for its development. His inclusion of this material can be read as a rearguard action.
L’Art du Violon offers cadenzas for a Pleyel Quartet. By the standards of today, these are disrespectful both to the composer and the other players; the number of bars of first violin cadenza, exceeds those actually written by the composer in the entire work!
Improvisation moved away from ‘serious’ music, and was buried by the rise of popular publishing. Amateurs needed assurance that they were buying exactly what composers and virtuosi performed. Nicolas-Charles Bochsa (1789-1856) later began his Souvenir de Paganini, a transcription, with a preface by assuring his public that the right hand of this harp piece reproduces, or rather, enables the purchaser to recreate exactly what Paganini played on the violin.
“The Prelude and the Cadenza, both children of the imagination, must concern themselves with responding appropriately to its call, for once the artist has undertaken them, they become for him one more hidden danger or one more cause for triumph; if he has the misfortune not to succeed, others are less indulgent, since they know he could have avoided taking the chance in the first place.”
When Habeneck published his own Méthode, he included a group of sixteen preludes, but not covering all the keys. These provide a fascinating insight into the tonal resources of his 1734 Stradivari.