Domenico Gabrielli (1659-1690)
Complete Opera for cello
Modena and Bologna, circa 1680. After centuries of obscurity in the shadow of the violin, with neither name, fixed form, nor tuning, without an unequivocal and universal identity, lagging almost a century and a half behind its closest rival, the viola da gamba, and more than a half century behind the bassoon, the violoncello is finally emancipated from its role as accompanist and acquires the dignity of a soloist. The honor of having given this decisive impulse to the history of the instrument goes to a group of virtuoso cellists who gravitated around the musical chapels of S. Petronio in Bologna and of Duke Francesco II of Modena: Petronio Franceschini, father of the cello school in Bologna; Giuseppe Colombi, a few of whose quirky toccatas for solo violone are preserved in Modena: Giovanni Battista Vitali, author of a dozen partitas for violone; Giovanni Battista Degli Antonii, the first to publish his Ricercate sopra il violoncello ò clavicembalo (1687); Domenico Galli, from Parma, author of Trattenimento musicale sopra il violoncello a’solo, written out in Modena in 1691 in a beautiful manuscript ornamented by the author himself (Galli was a painter as well as a cellist); and Domenico Gabrielli, the most interesting composer of the bunch and the object of our attention.