Vardanyan A.
Vardanyan A. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES AND MODERN PROBLEMS OF INSTRUMENTAL CONCERT’ STUDYING // Universum: филология и искусствоведение : электрон. научн. журн. 2022. 2(92). URL: https://7universum.com/ru/philology/archive/item/13094 (дата обращения: 06.07.2022).
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DOI - 10.32743/UniPhil.2022.92.2.13094



The article characterizes historical perspectives and actual problems of studying instrumental Concerto in modern musicology. The specifics of the Concerto genre are analyzed, its varieties are identified, and various variants of their classification are proposed. The question of the historical interactions of the Concerto with the Symphony and the chamber ensemble is emphasized, the essence of concertness and concertation is revealed. The conclusion is made about the preservation of the genre core by the instrumental Concerto, expressed in dialogic, game logic, virtuosity.


В статье характеризуются исторические перспективы и актуальные проблемы изучения инструментального концерта в современном музыковедении. Анализируется специфика концертного жанра, выявляются его разновидности, предлагаются различные варианты их классификации. Акцентируется вопрос исторических взаимодействий концерта с симфонией и камерным ансамблем, раскрывается сущность концертности и концертирования. Делается вывод о сохранении инструментальным концертом жанрового ядра, выражающегося в диалогичности, игровой логике, виртуозности.


Keywords: modern musicology, genre of instrumental Concerto, classification, game logic, dialogicity, virtuosity

Ключевые слова: современное музыковедение, инструментальный концерт, классификация, игровая логика, диалогичность, виртуозность.


The works devoted to the theory, history, stylistic and genre varieties of the instrumental Concerto are numerous. Their authors are both domestic and foreign musicologists. Among them are B. Asafyev, E. Nazaikinsky, I. Kuznetsov, D. Zhytomyr, O. Leontieva, M. Tarakanov, L. Raaben, E. Abramova, E. Sambrish, V. Andriesh, etc.

Among the main problems of the theoretical study of the instrumental Concerto, the most significant are two: the definition of the concepts of Concerto, concertina, concertation, as well as the classification of instrumental Concertos. Musicologists agree that a Concerto is "... a work for many performers, in which a smaller part of the participating instruments or voices opposes most of them or the entire ensemble" [11, c. 922]. The Concerto is a philosophical and conceptual genre that reflects the ideological and aesthetic ideas of its era, flexibly interacting with other genres of music (mainly symphonic and chamber) throughout its evolution.

An instrumental Concerto is often considered in comparison with a symphony dedicated to it. This fact is easily explained: having arisen from a single source (Concerto grosso), the symphony and the Concerto developed in a system of instrumental genres in parallel, constantly interacting with each other; their paths often intertwined, sometimes leading to the appearance of such phenomena that it is difficult to call only a Concerto or only a symphony. The genres of symphony and instrumental Concerto have passed a long way of development, expressed in the emergence of a huge number of specific genre solutions in the works of composers of different national schools and stylistic trends. This evolution has demonstrated the extreme flexibility and mobility of both the Concerto and the symphony, their ability in some cases to come close to each other (Concerto-symphony), and in others – to get as close as possible to the chamber ensemble (chamber symphony, chamber Concerto). The reasons for the viability of an instrumental Concerto are seen in its qualities such as the peculiarity of a specific communicative situation, the possibility of a special self-expression of the performer-soloist, relative ease of perception, accessibility for the listener compared to other instrumental genres (in particular, with a symphony).

Russian musicologists M. Tarakanov and M. Aranovsky define the genre originality of the Concerto as the unity of two principles, namely, agreement and confrontation, which are in dialectical interrelation. In addition, according to M. Tarakanov, the feature of the instrumental Concerto is the constant interaction of stable and mobile elements: on the one hand, it retains its essential features, internal structure, and on the other, shows an extraordinary variety of external architectonics. In this regard, the researcher writes: "In the historical context, the Concerto appears as a stable genre, performing in a variety of changeable, overlapping varieties" [16, c. 10]. In instrumental music, the principle of concertation, that is, the "competition" of several solo voices, was clearly manifested in the genres of suite and church sonata (for example, Balletto concertata by F. Melli or Sonata concertata by D. Castello). The first examples of an instrumental Concerto appeared at the end of the XVII century; these were Concerti grossi, based on the contrasting juxtaposition of the orchestra (tutti) and soloists (concertino). In fact, the instrumental Concerto was formed in the first half of the XVIII century in the works of A. Vivaldi.

The classical period in the development of the Concerto genre is associated with the art of the Viennese classics. J. Haydn, W. A. Mozart and L. Beethoven have a three-part sonata-symphonic cycle with a characteristic figurative-semantic and tonal ratio of parts as a structural basis, the sonata form with double exposure in the first movement is determined, as well as the location of the soloist's cadence. In comparison with classical samples, the principle of presentation and development of thematism has changed significantly, which was characterized not so much by textural uniformity as by intonation-motive individualization. In the era of Romanticism, there is a departure from the classical structure of the genre.

The romantics created a one-part Concerto of two types: a small form, a concertina (later called a concertino), and a large form corresponding to a symphonic poem, in one part embodying the features of a four-part sonata-symphonic cycle. The thematic connections between the parts that were absent in the classical Concerto were replaced by the principle of monothematism and end-to-end development. The romantic Сoncerto of the XIX century presents a special kind of colorful and decorative virtuosity, which has become a stylistic sign of the era, and therefore, from the point of view of the laws of composition, the concert, in comparison with other genres, is the least canonized. For example, any symphony usually refers to some ideal model developed in the Viennese classical era. At the same time, the concert is associated with a whole spectrum of different types of instrumental music.

And yet, despite the possible differences in the solution of the genre model of an instrumental Concerto, there are some common features that reveal the essence of this genre. As one of them, the game is singled out as a type of activity and a type of reflection of reality. Another important property is dialogue as a way of thinking and a way of implementing the game. Finally, the most important attributes of the kind of musical works we are interested in are concertation and concertiality, which are closely related to each other.

These concepts are revealed in the works of B. Asafyev, E. Nazaikinsky, I. Kuznetsov, D. Zhytomyr, V. Utkin, O. Leontieva, E. Sambrish. At the same time, concertina refers to the external qualities of the genre – its representativeness, variety showiness, virtuosity, general activity of the movement, energetic melodic deployment; concertation is interpreted as a principle of dramaturgy, manifested in the logic of the game, competitiveness, dialogicity. In the theory of performing arts, concerting is the involvement of a large arsenal of expressive possibilities of the scenic impact of musical interpretation.

Thus, in a Book about Stravinsky, B. Asafyev writes that the principle of concertina as a competition lies not in one virtuoso superiority, but "... in the perfection of dialogue, in its expression - in the fact that two (or several) concerting instruments, based on some general prerequisites, reveal two principles, two currents in them and develop their points of view dialectically, in the consciousness of the constant coexistence of the dominant idea and the contrasting idea generated by it" [2, c. 218]. The theory of concertina, considered mainly on the examples of a solo piano Concerto, was developed in the works of I. Kuznetsov. In the article The Theory of concertina and its formation in Russian and Soviet musicology, the researcher offers a historical overview of individual interpretations of the concept of concertina [7].

I  Kuznetsov understands concertina ambiguously: "... firstly, as a property, the quality of music inherent in various genres, secondly, as the quintessence of the general principles of the genre and the form of the concert, thirdly, as a historical type (form)" (7, c. 130). The scientist notes the universal character of concertina as a method of musical thinking and characterizes the totality of intonation processes, genre and compositional features, virtuoso and technical elements, as well as specific techniques peculiar to it. In addition to conversion, it is improvisational, dialogic, etc.

E. Sambrish also analyzes the specifics of concertation in detail, revealing it in the analysis of A. Eshpay's instrumental Concertos [13]. She defines this phenomenon as a phenomenon encompassing "... a variety of techniques and methods: competitiveness, virtuosity, game logic, timbre personification, improvisational, dialogic, representativeness, communication. Manifesting to a greater or lesser extent, together or separately, they inform concertation of all possible shades of qualitative differences" (13, c. 10). Proving his point, E. Sambrish argues that the most stable manifestation of the principle of concertation is "... timbre personification, i.e. the allocation of solo timbres" (13, c. 11).

It depends on the mobility of the timbre functions in the orchestral score and can be constant (double, triple, Concerto for orchestra with pre-arranged soloists) or changeable (Concerto for orchestra without soloists).

In the work On concertation and its forms in modern instrumental music V. Utkin expounds the idea of the inherent genre of the Concerto "... ambivalence, consisting in an indissoluble unity of rivalry and agreement, confrontation and complementary development of thesis and antithesis" [18, c. 68]. Based on the internal inconsistency, dialogic nature of the genre, the researcher suggests a classification of concert models, distinguishing: "Concerto-monologue, Concerto-dialogue and Concerto-polylogue" [18, c. 79]. The systematization of the varieties of the solo Concerto is also carried out by I. Kuznetsov, who identifies as its criterion the ratio of solo and orchestral parts. Based on this, the researcher defines three main variants of the Concerto: parity, dominant-solo and dominant-orchestral [7].

M. Tarakanov in his work Symphony and Instrumental Concerto in Russian Soviet music offers a different classification of Concertos: depending on the peculiarities of their dramaturgy [17]. He divides all Concertos into two groups: symphonized and virtuoso-playing. The same classification is used by M. Lobanova in her article The Concerto Principles of D. Shostakovich in the light of the problems of modern dialogistics [8]. As for the stylistic varieties of the Concerto genre in the twentieth century, M. Lobanova speaks of three subspecies: the first uses the genre-style features of a Concerto of the preclassic era, the second enriches the traditions of a symphonized Concerto of the classical and romantic era, the third correlates with the chamber composition of the modern type.

E. Sambrish formulates his classification of Concertos, differentiating them according to their stylistic inclination: the first group includes "... Concertos having stylistic attributes of the Baroque era, correlating, /.../ with Concerto grosso or with other genres, compositional techniques and musical expressive means of that time" [13, c. 9]; the second group includes "... Concertos correlating with the classical-romantic model" [13, c. 10]; the third group includes "Concertos of a new type, not focused on either the baroque or the classical-romantic model and characterized by an individual compositional solution and the use of modern techniques and means" [13, c. 10]. The criterion of systematization is often the performing composition, including the number of solo instruments. So, the classification of E. Sambrish contains three variants of the genre model: solo Concertos (for one instrument without an orchestra, with a chamber orchestra or ensemble, with a full or incomplete orchestra), Concertos for several soloists (Concertos-ensembles accompanied by a chamber orchestra or a group of instruments, double and triple Concertos with a full or close orchestra), Concertos for orchestra (with or without permanent soloists) [13, c. 10].

L. Raaben in the monograph Soviet Instrumental Concerto offers a typology of the Concerto based on the criterion of tradition and innovation. He identifies Concertos in which composers focus on the forms of classical symphonism (the first type); where these constructions are updated due to modern compositional writing techniques (the second type); within which there is a rejection of the classical principles of the organization of the material by referring to the techniques of composition of the twentieth century (the third type); in which the unification of different principles, the synthesis of elements of different styles (the fourth type) [12].

There are many works whose authors consider the development of the Concerto genre in a certain era or in the work of a certain composer. For example, an instrumental Concerto of the classical period is considered in the works of M. Druskin, Mozart's Piano Concertos and Beethoven's Piano Concertos [5; 4] classical and romantic varieties of the genre are explored by B. Gnilov in his dissertation Musical Composition for piano and orchestra as a genre-compositional phenomenon (classical-romantic era) [3]. Many art historians emphasize the idea that the XX century. it became the heyday of the instrumental Concerto, since almost all major masters of that time turned to it. This idea is convincingly proved in such studies as the Theory of Musical genres: tasks and prospects of A. Sokhor [15], Style and genre in the music of E. Nazaikinsky [10], The structure of the musical genre and the current situation in the music of M. Aranovsky [1], Musical style and genre. The history and modernity of M. Lobanova [9], The morphological system of music and its artistic genres of O. Sokolov [14] etc. These works are an important methodological component of this article.

Theoretical problems of the Concerto genre are also covered in monographs on the work of individual composers. Thus, N. Kravets, studying the instrumental Concertos of S. Prokofiev, offers his classification of Concertos of the first half of the last century [6]. She distinguishes them by style, genre type and dramaturgy. Based on the stylistic aspect, the author identifies Concertos that are consciously focused on the Baroque model (neoclassical); compositions that do not restore the style of music of the past, but are indirectly related to it; works that reveal classicist-romantic tendencies; opuses with the renewal of classicist-romantic traditions due to the expressive possibilities of music of the XX century.

Classifying Concertos from the point of view of genre type, N. Kravets distributes them into three types: a Concerto ensemble for several instruments with or without an orchestra, solo Concertos with a chamber orchestra or a group of instruments, a Concerto (or Concertino) for orchestra. The dramaturgical criterion of systematization presupposes the division of Concertos into symphonized and competitive-playing ones. The researcher notes the conventionality of this division in the music of the twentieth century, because symphonization often penetrates into "game" Concertos, and competition generally characterizes the Concerto due to the specifics of the genre. At the same time, from the point of view of structural design in the Concerto of the twentieth century, according to the musicologist, there are tendencies of gravitation towards classical three-part, symphonic four-part, suite multi-part and poetic romantic one-part.

Thus, at the turn of the XX–XXI centuries, despite the widespread concepts of postmodernism, neo- and post-styles, the instrumental Concerto still manages to preserve its genre core, expressed in its unshakable properties such as concertness, dialogicity, game logic, virtuoso beginning. It continues to develop in breadth (an independent variety appears – a Concerto for various folk instruments and a symphony orchestra or orchestra of folk instruments and in depth (the content possibilities expand, the internal structure changes). Composers often replace the designation of the Concerto genre with a programmatic subtitle, and sometimes even abandon the name altogether, using only the idea of concertness.



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Информация об авторах

PhD in Art Studies and Culturology, Associate Professor, Acting Professor, Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts of the Republic of Moldova, Moldova, Chisinau

канд. искусствоведения и культурологии, и.о. профессора Академии музыки, театра и изобразительных искусств, Молдова, г. Кишинёв

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