Concertino No. 5 in Bb Major

By Unico Wilhelm Graf van Wassenaer
Composed in 1740

This is one of 6 famous concertini originally attributed to the Italian composer Pergolesi. These works were first published in Holland in 1740, but without mention of a composer. Recent scholarship has discovered that all of these works, far from being the work of an Italian, were actually composed by a Dutch nobleman, Unico Wilhelem Graf Van Wassenaer. He had permitted his court violinist, Carlo Ricciotti, to publish them, but only on condition that he (Van Wassenaer) was not associated with them. (Perhaps he did not wish his noble reputation to suffer by being so closely associated with the music profession.)

This concertino, like all of the others, is Italianate in style, with richly worked-out counterpoint and lush 7-part string writing (including 4 separate violin parts in Neapolitan style). The movements are alternately slow and fast, with a stately introduction, a fast alla breve second movement, followed by a slow third movement in “sicilienne” style.

Stravinsky adapted the last movement, in fast 6/8 time, as the basis for the “Tarantella” movement in his Pulcinella Suite.

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