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Minuet No.3 - Francesco Frontini

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F. Frontini - Minuet No.3 (Excerpt)

F. Frontini - Minuet No.3 - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Francesco Paolo Frontini (1860-1939)

 

Frontini was an Italian composer who was born and died in Catania, the second largest city in Sicily, located right at the base of Mt. Etna.  He learned music with his composer father, then went to conservatory at Palermo and Naples.

 

He was really interested in Sicilian Folk music and published two collections.  He's actually got a bigger online footprint than most of the LMP composers I've recorded, with an Italian youtube channel for his works and an Italian blog by his great grandson.  

 

The blog has this quote from Frontini, which I ran through Google Translate:

 

"We need to make known entirely the true, the great soul of our land. We musicians must feel the greatest responsibility for this mission because only in music and singing we Sicilians know how to dilute our true feeling. Remember that" FP Frontini

 

There's a decent amount of Frontini's music on Spotify, but it looks like it's mostly, if not all, piano music.

Date: 1907

Original Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello

 

Why this one:

 

I was looking for another string quartet that wasn't going to require too much overhead to learn (i.e. short and not too difficult).  I found this Minuet and most of the melody is in the violin 1 so I gave it a quick and dirty play-though and liked how it sounded.  Additionally, since it's only a handwritten score (i.e. all 4 instruments at once), I figured it's really unlikely that anyone has played it anytime recently.  

 

Also, my father's family is from Sicily, so I thought it would be cool to record something by a Sicilian composer.

Description:  

Key:  Minuet C

          Trio F

Time: 3/4  BPM=105 

This short piece is structured like a Minuet and Trio, with an ABA form, despite not being marked as such.   The A section is built around a dotted eighth to sixteenth note (almost swung) rhythmic motif, and has an internal structure of aaba with the violin 1 and viola playing the main melody line before chasing each other up and down the scale in the a section.

The b section (at 0:29) really leans into the rhythmic motif, with the violin 2 and even the cello, mostly just playing accompaniment until now, picking it up.  The section also feels like it modulates, though with all the accidentals I can't quite find where it lands.  

The Trio B section (1:08) starts in F major and consists of three main parts.  The first has violin 2 taking the lead with a long melodic over a F pedal in the cello, giving it a pretty static F Major feel.  The second part (1:21) modulates to Db and alternates between Ab and Db (the V-I of the new key).  The third part (1:35) shifts pretty dramatically to, I think, F minor before the solo violin 1 leads back to the first F major part.

After the B section, the piece starts over and the A section plays again in its entirety.  So the schematic for the entire piece is something like this, with the macro structure on top and the micro structure underneath::

A         B         A  

a a b a | c d e c | a a b 

Performance:

 

I wasn't sure at first what the tempo should be as it's marked "Andante quasi Allegretto" which means roughly "At a walking pace, sort of quickly."   I decided that I should play it at what I've been using for straight Allegretto works.  Minuets are dances and at that pace it sounds like something you could waltz to.

 

I recorded the cello part first.  I didn't have any trouble, but it was a little weird as there's some very long stretches where not much happening.   This definitely didn't sound like much with just the cello on it.

I did the two violin parts in the next recording session and didn't have any problems.  The viola part was easy.

Errata:

As I mentioned above, IMSLP had this only as a score, meaning all four parts on the same staff.  It was also handwritten so some parts were a little hard to read.  I input the piece into my notation software and split the parts out for readability and to shorten it so I didn't have to navigate page turns. 

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Original Score

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