Avitrano, Giuseppe Antonio
- Christoph Timpe
(b Naples, ?1670; d Naples, March 19, 1756). Italian composer and violinist. He came from a musical family and was a member of the Neapolitan court orchestra from the late 1690s until his death. His two sets of sonate da chiesa (opp.1 and 2) are notable for their fugal movements, in which the violone shares the counterpoint with the violins, while the continuo remains independent. This principle is systematized in his op.3, which in its instrumentation is based on a model established in Naples at the end of the 17th century by composers such as Pietro Marchitelli and Giancarlo Cailò. In each sonata a brilliant first movement is followed by a three-part fugue, which is separated from a lively closing dance by a short, lyrical movement, usually in 3/2. Avitrano's works show a highly developed sense of tonal effect, particularly his op.3, in which the violins are independent of each other and often complement each other by playing in the same register. Although his violin music does not require technical brilliance from the players, it does demand a sound mastery of the bow, especially in the dance movements. His capacity for invention is limited, particularly in the slow movements, in which the thematic material is often similar to that in other slow movements of his. His harmonic development is conventional but lively. Avitrano's importance lies in his contribution to the four-part sonata, the leading genre in Neapolitan violin music....