The cornettino, tuned in C (a fourth above the soprano), is the smallest element in the cornetto family.
There are few original surviving instruments and its use and repertoire is still a matter of debate amongst players. Nevertheless, we know for sure that the cornettino enjoyed some popularity in Austria and Germany while the use of the soprano cornetto started to decline as the baroque aesthetic developed.
Fantastic virtuoso repertoire with clear indications "cornettino" can be found, particularly around Vienna in the late 17th century.
Altough recorder players might expect to be able to play a fourth higher by simply switching from a soprano cornetto to a cornettino reality doesn't work like that. It is certainly more comfortable to play in the high register using a cornettino (particularly for the fingers), but the upper range is not necessarily higher than the one that can be reached with a soprano.
Playing a cornettino in tune is a very challenging task and small differences in the mouthpiece and the players' technique make for huge changes in the outcome. Nevertheless, it remains a particularly bright and responsive instrument which flourishes within ensembles and has a beautiful repertoire, most of it still seldom performed.
© Ricardo Simian 2015 - 2022 - all rights reserved