Bartolomeo Campagnoli (Cento di Ferrara, 1751- Neustrelitz, 1827) apprit le violon auprès de Giuseppe Tartini et se perfectionna auprès de Pietro Nardini à Florence. Il joua en tant que concertiste ou dans des orchestres en Italie et d'autres pays d'Europe (Premier violon au Gewandhaus de Leipzig de 1797 à 1810). Outre un concerto pour flûte, un autre pour violon, des pièces de chambre, ou pour un ou deux violons, il composa ces 41 caprices pour alto op. 22, à visée pédagogique, qui furent largement diffusés et sont encore aujourd'hui utilisés dans l'enseignement. Le musicien allemand Carl Albert Tottmann (1837-1917) leur a ajouté un accompagnement pour piano. Ni cet accompagnement, ni l'indéniable talent des deux interprètes, Marco Misciagna à l'alto et Marco Ciannella au piano, n'arrivent à faire oublier le caractère d'exercices pédagogiques de ces morceaux, pourtant non dénués d'un certain charme pré-romantique, et qui rappelleront peut-être de bons souvenirs aux altistes confirmés. (Marc Galand)
The considerable fame that Bartolomeo Campagnoli (1751–1827) achieved during his own lifetime was largely due to his contribution to violin studies. The 41 Caprices he wrote for viola and the 7 Divertimenti for solo violin are still in use today. Campagnoli’s career as a concert performer began in Rome in 1775, continuing in a long tour of the courts of the capital cities of Europe. In 1797 he was made concert director and first violin at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, a post that he held until 1818, although he also maintained his contacts with the most advanced and influential cultural centres of Europe. He thus enjoyed a florid exchange with some of the most famous teachers and Nevertheless, there is an unmistakably composers of the time, in particular with Cherubini and Kreutzer. The idea that ‘true expression depends on the sound, intonation, movement, taste and aplomb of the measure’ was a constant tenet with Campagnoli, as was his insistence on the need to understand clearly the character of each piece in order to appreciate to the full the composer’s intentions. All this required respect for the exact point in which embellishments have to be added (without exceeding), because: ‘nothing is more beautiful and moving than what is simple’. Karl Albert Tottmann (1837–1917) was a German musician and composer. Leaving the Leipzig Conservatory, he entered as first violin of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and in 1868 he was named director of the Vieux Théâtre Orchestra, remaining in this role until the end of 1872. Campagnoli’s 41 Caprices for viola were published in Leipzig around 1815, with Tottmann later adding a piano accompaniment. Capriccio No.17, a theme with variations in E minor, is the most musical and consistent of the collection and is particularly suitable for a performance as a concert piece; an alternative piano accompaniment for this caprice was later created and published by Graz?yna Bacewicz. The 41 Caprices are the most important and well-known compositions by Campagnoli and one of the most important collections of violistic teaching. The studies deal with a wide category of technical issues for the left hand and for the bow, covering the problems of the solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire of the time, to the point of being defined as the ‘Kreutzer-Fiorillo’ of the viola. In studies Nos. 19 and 20 we find scales and arpeggios, in No.7 the slurred staccato. Octaves and other intervals, string jumps and arpeggios characterise Nos. 16, 17, 37; and the thirds and sixths are dealt with in Study No.2. The study of the cantabile is also very important, and in numerous caprices the rapid and technical part is preceded by a slow introduction which involves much legato and double chords (Nos. 1, 2, 24, 34). Many of the caprices end on the dominant, and this allows in many cases an immediate harmonic connection between one capriccio and the next.