Obscure Music Mondays: Drigo's Serenatina Veneziana all'Antica
Composer Riccardo Drigo (1846-1930) was an Italian composer and conductor who spent much of his career working in the opera and ballet theaters of St. Petersburg, though his career began and ended in Padua, Italy in the Veneto region. It is that region that inspires his beautiful work for viola (or cello) & piano (or organ) Serenatina Veneziana all'Antica.
Opening with a simple flowing arpeggiated figure in the piano, there is a constant flow of light movement in this work. The viola enters with a simple singing melodic line over the arpeggios allowing the viola to sing out in its mid-range.
After a short section of Lo stesso movimento, we return to the flowing first tempo in a bit of a false recapitulation, ending in a fermata where some violists will include an improvized cadenza. We then return to the opening theme, with the viola climbing into the higher registers as the work ends.
For both the violist and piano player, this work is very easy and approachable. While there are certainly many shifts possible to make a more beautiful sound, the entire piece can be played in first position on the viola, with the exception of the final three notes, which require a shift to third position.