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Johnandrew Slominski improvises over a Leonardo Leo Keyboard Concerto Partimento

Updated: May 26

In the video above, acclaimed concert pianist and teacher Professor Johnandrew Slominski realizes a keyboard concerto partimento by Leonardo Leo.

"Partimento can be thought of I think, in kind of the simplest terms as potential music. So a partimento is a didactic line of music. It is most often a bass line but it doesn't necessarily have to be. But as a single line of music, it contains within it, all of the implications or the possibilities for a fully-fledged composition. Anything from the genre of a free improvised prelude, to a fugue, to a concerto movement," says Professor Slominski in his interview with Nikhil Hogan.

"And as an 18th-century musician what you would learn to do is, given this single line, you would learn to recognize patterns. You would be taught by your teacher certain patterns and certain implications of the bass line. So for instance, there's what's known as, in most partimento treatises, they have regole or rules and so you would learn these rules and a rule might be for instance that if you had a bass line that descends first by a 4th and then by a 5th, for example, C G C, you would over the top of that insert what's known as a cadenza semplice or a simple cadence... the obligatory cadence almost always had a 4-3 suspension over the dominant chord. So this is an example of one of these patterns that if you see it in a partimento, you as a reader of partimento, you automatically decode this into a musical texture," he says, explaining more about partimento.

The partimenti selected in the performance is Leonardo Leo's Keyboard Concerto Gj1714. Professor Slominski notes the interesting fact that the piano was not a common 18th-century instrument for realizing partimenti. More of Leo's partimenti can be viewed on the new partimenti.org site here.

The performance was well-received within the Partimento community on Facebook, with high praise from prominent figures such as Professors Giorgio Sanguinetti, Peter van Tour and John Mortensen.

Professor Slominski is an Assistant Professor of Music (Piano and Music Theory) at Linfield University. He holds a DMA from Eastman School of Music and is the founder and director of “Classical Music on the Spot”, a summer institute for 18th-century keyboard improvisation. Professor Slominski also teaches partimento online on Zoom/Skype and can be contacted here.

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