Gaetano (Cayetano) Brunetti (1744-1798, Italian, Spanish)

Ever heard of Gaetano (spelled Cayetano in Spain) Brunetti? I hadn’t, except for Concerto Köln‘s recording of three symphonies, released on Capriccio 10 489 in 1994, but which I only came to in 2017 – there’s so much to listen to. And, for this composer entry, I really need to send the reader to my review of that CD, because for a presentation of the composer, his significance and his discography, I could only copy and paste what I wrote there.  So I’ll do that only with the end of the review:

“I’d need to hear more Brunetti, and more aspects of his output, instrumental, chamber, vocal and sacred, before I can make any informed pronouncement on his worth, but based on those three symphonies, hey, this looks like he may be your major unknown composer of the classical era, one of unparalleled originality and with no peer that I can think of. I’m tempted to say that he shouldn’t have buried himself in Spain but should have gone to Paris instead or entered the service of Prince Esterházy… but of course if he hadn’t been subjected to all those Spanish influences and culture, he probably wouldn’t have composed those symphonies, at least nothing like them.”

I have since heard more Brunetti: his Six Bassoon Quintets op. 2 on Tactus (2002) were not up to my hopes, certainly pleasant in their galant, salon style, but without much substance nor originality beyond the galant pleasantry. The four String Quartets recorded by the Schuppanzigh Quartet on Cpo 999 780-2 (2001) are also couched in that merry and galant style that eschews the kind of emotional turmoil associated with “Sturm und Drang” or Mozartean pre-romanticism, but, as the symphonies, within their style and emotional range, they offer constant ear-catching flights of fancy.

Brunetti is slowly coming back to the surface. In 2005 the Spanish musicologist Germán Labrador López de Azcona published the summum opus of a critical, thematic and chronological catalog of Brunetti’s works. See this review of it (link will open a new tab to an outside website). Labrador must have beaten on the finishing line Olaf Krone, who wrote the erudite liner notes of the Cpo CD of Brunetti’s quartets in 2001 (see above) and was obviously researching Brunetti’s music (“the largest categories within his chamber oeuvre are the violin sonatas, sixty string quintets, and over fifty string quartets, thirty-four of which the author of these lines has been able to track down“): and the disc’s credits mentioned his “Gaetano Brunetti – A Thematic Catalogue of his works (publication in preparation)”. What became of that? I haven’t found much info online on Krone, though; he seems to be a non-professional musicologist (not necessarily an impediment for doing valuable musicological research) and a computer scientist (“Informatiker”) by trade, and an occasional writer in the German magazine for early music Concerto. In 2006 he was involved in a controversy, for passing off, due to lack of serious research, for a unknown Requiem of Michael Haydn one that had been in fact composed by Georg von Pasterwitz and only (partly) copied by Haydn. If you read German you’ll find more on this here.

Anyway, Brunetti’s works are starting to slowly trickle onto CD, especially from Spain. Conductor Gustavo Sanchez and his Camerata Antonio Soler have embarked on a project of recording Brunetti’s complete orchestral works. If you read Spanish, see here. I hope a major Brunetti rediscovery happens before I die.

I’ve compiled a short CD-discography of Brunetti. I don’t claim that it is complete, but there’s not much out at any rate.

String Quartets (op. 2-4 L153, op. 3-6 L161, serie 8-7 L196 & 10 L199). Carmen Veneris. Lindoro NL-3011 (2012), bc 8436003830115

Divertimenti para Trio de Cuerda Serie IV (1784). Carmen Veneris. Lindoro NL-3021 (2014), bc 8436003830214

Retrato de “Il Maniatico” / Arias y Sinfonías de Gaetano Brunetti (with Sinfonía nº 23 en Fa mayor (1783) L.312, Sinfonía nº 33 en Do menor con Violoncello solo “El Maniatico” (1780) L.322, various Arias). Raquel Andueza, Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla, Christophe Coin. 1 Obs Prometeo 008 (2013), bc 8437010364082

Symphonies: No. 9 in D; No. 21 in E♭; No. 29 in C. Camerata Antonio Soler, Gustavo Sánchez. Lindoro NL-3026 (2015), bc 8436003830269

Sinfonia concertante No. 3 in B♭. Symphonies: No. 25 in D; No. 8 in F. Camerata Antonio Soler, Gustavo Sanchez. Lindoro NL-3033 (2016), bc 8436003830337

Boccherini, Brunetti: Arias & Escenas (6 arias of Brunetti, with Boccherini Inés de Castro). Jelena Banković, Camerata Antonio Soler, Gustavo Sanchez. Lindoro NL-3030 (2015) 8436003830306

More resources

A Masters dissertation (in French) on Brunetti’s String Trios.

Comments are welcome