Not much is known about the life and works of the composer and theorist Giorgio Antoniotto (or Antoniotti). He was probably born around 1692 in Milan and is said to have belonged to a branch of the old Genoese aristocratic family of Adorno (or Adorni). It has been speculated that he spent some time in Holland, as in the mid-1730s the Amsterdam publishing house of Michel-Charles Le Cène (ca. 1684–1743) issued his 12 sonatas op. 1 (according to the title of the copperplate print the first five solo sonatas with basso continuo are intended for violoncello and the subsequent seven pieces for two violoncellos or two viole da gamba, even though here as well the bass parts are figured). For several years or even decades Antoniotto lived in London, where in 1760 he published an English translation of his Italian treatise L'Arte Armonica or A Treatise on the Composition of Musick. Six years after returning to Milan he probably died there in 1776. [...]
The two solo sonatas by Giorgio Antoniotto presented here to the public for the first time. The sonata in E-flat Major even bears a date: 9mbra [November] 1753. This date underlines the significance of the composition: apparently it is the earliest sonata for viola and basso continuo that is transmitted as an autograph. The sonata in F Major may also have been composed in the 1750s. It is surprising they were not discovered earlier, particularly since Franz Zeyringer listed both sonatas in his viola bibliography of 1985, albeit adding the note “Verl.[ag] n.[icht] erm.[ittelt]” (publisher unknown) in both instances. Besides, Antoniotto labeled the sonata in E-flat Major in his autograph as “Sonata per Camera” (chamber sonata), which may refer to the cyclical structure in three movements with the sequence slow-fast-minuet, in which dance and other movements are written in the same key. A remarkable feature is the at times unconventional and even daring harmonic language of the opening movements, which reveals a thoroughly skilled yet also highly inventive composer. Both pieces may have been written in England. Be that as it may, the two sonatas will serve to enrich the rather limited viola repertoire of the 18th century.
Abstract from the preface by Phillip Schmidt (translation: Stephanie Wollny)