Why have we never heard these London concertos before?

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

At first hearing, these three violin concertos dated 1790 sound like Haydn. The second of them could even be Mozart if we didn’t know that Mozart only wrote five concertos and these are numbered 13 to 15. So who was Giornovich if he could write so well, and why have we never heard this music before, given that this is a world premiere recording? Giornovich was, if nothing else, well-connected….

Read on here.


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  • “why have we never heard this music before, given that this is a world premiere recording”

    It would be stranger the other way round.

    Maybe nobody bothered to do an edition until now? Maybe someone sat on the manuscript hoping to make some money out of it? The manuscripts were just recovered?

    Make some calls and find out.

    • Are you sure that these are actually world premiere recordings? About 20 or so years ago, Arte Nova, the budget label associated with RCA at the time (now gone), released three CDs of violin concertos by Giornovichi.

      • “Arte Nova […] released three CDs of violin concertos by Giornovichi.”

        They released concertos 1 to 10. These were world premiere recordings with the exception of concerto no. 4.

  • This is indeed a landmark. Giovanni Giornovichi aka Ivan Jarnovic’ was one of the most charismatic figures in the entire history of the violin.
    Further info can be found on wiki. I recommend google the Italian version and have it translated.
    On the youtube are live performances of Bojan Cicic playing concertos 13 and 14.
    Great music played thus!
    London concertos? Giornovichi wrote them in Russia prior to moving to the UK about1791. Maybe they were intended for performances in London?
    His 16th concerto was definitely written at least in the UK.
    Does anybody play it?
    Legible copies of concertos 5 and 16 are available from IMSLP along with no 15 in Giornovichi’s own hand.
    Classical violin concertos. All we ever hear are Mozart 3/4/5 played into the ground.
    Let’s listen to and play something else. Well,here it is!

  • Those with a serious interest in this might do better to look for Ivan Jarnovic, his Croation name. Vjera Katalinia has written a book on his violin concertos in that language. From that and other sources, notably a doctoral thesis on him and two other composers submitted to Indiana University, one may learn, e.g., that the ‘Romanza’ movement in concertos was his innovation, and that might explain why the slow movements seem to NL ‘amoroso’ rather than adagio. I should also be interested if NL would cite the tepid contemporaneous reviews he read, for scholarly sources attest to the considerable eclat bestowed upon Jarnovic both in Western Europe and in Russia. That he has been overlooked since is another matter, and neglected composers are hardly rare. A meander through the catalogue of Naxos recordings will produce quite a list.

  • In fact, Arte Nova released a three CDs worth of Giornovich’s violin concertos nearly two decades ago (in under-rehearsed performances featuring the Starling Chamber Orchestra under Kurt Sassmannshaus). On the cover, the composer is listed as Giornovichi, which likely accounts for the confusion. The concertos are indeed charming works, although I’m not convinced they display Haydn’s level of harmonic sophistication.

  • We have, in many ways, created a musical Parnassus of our own making – which does not reflect the esteem in which composers were held in their own time. Who, now, listens to a note of Jommelli? Yet Mozart son and father made a special point of visiting him in Naples, as a pilgrimage to the leading opera composer of his day.

    Even if anecdotally, we perhaps know that the good burghers of Leipzig failed to list JS Bach for their Kappelmeister post. (“Oh, those cloth-eared fools!” eh?). His earnest, worthy and devout works simply did not measure up to their ideas of greatness – embodied in the work of Telemann (today considered a curiosity), Hasse (today considered only as a confusion with the modern Hass) and Graun (today considered a ‘Who?”) Rameau failed to write any fugal oratorios – and thus disappears off the modern roster of the Baroque Greats entirely.

    With our minds rewired to reward authors of Protestant oratorios suitable for Choral Societies, our ‘Division One’ of 18th-century composers is very upside-down. By all means, admire Bach as much as you wish (ideally not on the piano, though) – but bear in mind that he was a forgotten provincial choirmaster, even in his own lifetime.

    • I see your point, VdB, but I cannot agree with your assessment of Telemann.
      He is currently much more than a curiosity; his works are often performed and recorded.
      And those works are quite beautiful.

    • Viola: you left out Handel, who was considered the leading Baroque composer well into the 19th century.

  • Given the description in the review, Haydn is much more sophisticated, especially the Haydn of 1790. At best, it could be an imitation of early Haydn. Though, I have yet to hear for myself.

    • On the youtube there are quite a lot of recordings of his music.
      I strongly recommend his 5th concerto in E major. Very beautiful.

    • The article doesn’t say anything about VC2 being a world premiere recording (as the disc in question features concertos nos. 13 to 15).

      “The second of them could even be Mozart” refers to “these three violin concertos”, that would make it, considering “these are numbered 13 to 15”, concerto no. 14.

      Was it phrased savagely? Yep.

  • Perhaps soloists are fearful of losing performance dates by learning pieces other than the standards. Perhaps music directors are loathe to program lost pieces because it might upset the dull headed donors. Otherwise we might actually hear perfomances like those above, and more from composers like Foote, Matchavariani and Mozkowski to name a couple. Thankfully the adventuring listener has YouTube.

  • While I obviously have also never heard these concertos, I’m surprised at your surprise about the composer. There have been many recordings of the music of Jarnović (the most common spelling in my experience, although also common is Giornovichi). If you go to Chappell White’s basic text “From Vivaldi to Viotti, A History of the Early Classical Violin Concerto,” you’ll find many pages of references to and excerpts of concertos by Giornovichi. It is unclear whether he was born Italian or Croatian. He was playing in Saloman’s Hanover Square concerts by 1791, so a possible personal link to Haydn is evident. He was paid the ultimate “compliment” of his era, that being that concertos he did NOT write were attributed to him by publishers.

    I have a violin sonata of his credited to “Jarnović” that is an edition possibly late 19th century, so folks back then still knew of him. It evidently might be an arrangement of an oboe sonata. When I finally had a chance to perform it in recital with a good pianist who was substituting at the last minute as a favor, it was hilarious because the piano part sounded like it had been arranged by Liszt — she had not been expecting to have to master something that difficult on short notice.

    As to Haydn violin concertos, the Hoboken catalog lists several (7 or 8 as I recall) but indicates that most are misattributed, naming Cannabich as among the more likely sources. Only 3 are unquestioned Haydn, and none from the London era.

    Violinists (and recording companies) have clearly only scratched the surface of the concerto repertoire of the classical era, based on the evidence of Chappell White’s tome (Gordon and Breach, 1992).

        • Yes. It was the official language of the Maritime Republic of Ragusa of which Dubrovnik was the administrative centre.
          It is doubtful if Giornovichi spoke Croatian. It seems that his main languages were Italian and French

    • I strongly suspect that much of the solo part of Haydn”s C major concerto was ‘doctored’ by Luigi Tomassini.

      • Er…no. At that time the population of Dubrovnik, or Ragusa, would have been Italian speaking. (Strictly speaking, the version of Italian spoken was close to Venetian, rather than modern Italian; modern Italian only arose following unification, and has only been widely spoken since WW II). While he may have used both Croatian and Italian forms, he was likely Italian-speaking as his first language. Using the Croatian form is anachronistic.

        • You are right.
          The language of Dubrovnik was Dalmatian Italian.
          By the same token Napoleon’s madre lingua was corsican Italian.
          The Italian language has a very interesting history…..

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