Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
Le Canzoni da Sonare, 1628 and 1634
The full title (Il primo libro delle canzoni…accomodate per sonare con ogni sorte de stromenti in the Robletti edition; In partitura, il primo libro…per sonare con ogni sorte di stromenti, Masotti, and Canzoni da sonare, Vincenti) is, in all three prints, an explicit reference to the performance practice of the time, which did not specify any instrument in particular for reading the score. Certainly, the publishers could not but take pleasure in the title being addressed to such a large number of musicians, but there are other reasons which go beyond the promise of a larger market and greater profits. Grassi did not fail to insist on ample freedom in the choice of instruments in the interpretation of the various compositions notated together in score. In addition to providing the opportunity of executing these canzonas initially intended for instruments on the keyboard, he also proposed the process in reverse, suggesting a polyinstrumental performance of the toccatas (compositions traditionally destined for the most part for the keyboard). The two toccatas which Grassi included in his edition bear the rubrics “per spinettino over liuto” and “per spinettino e violino”, respectively The choice of the instrumentation is thus an integral part of the interpretation, highlighting certain aspects of the musical discourse over others which remain less evident. The unique character of each reading is thus exalted and the multifaceted and variegated structure is renewed at each hearing and are revealed to the listener by means of a clear and continuous evolution.