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Antonio Vivaldi – Concertos For Flute, Mandolin, Bassoon & Violin

Antonio Vivaldi – Concertos For Flute, Mandolin, Bassoon & Violin

Recorded at the Baumgartner Hall, Vienna on June 1964.

About the author:
Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice, 4 March 1678 and died in Vienna, 28 July 1741. He was the son of a professional violinist who played at St. Mark’s and may have been involved in operatic management. Vivaldi was trained for the priesthood and ordained in 1703 but soon after his ordination ceased to say Mass. he claimed this was because of his unsure health (he is known to have suffered from chest complaints, possibly asthma or angina). In 1703 he was appointed maestro di violino at the Ospedale della Pietà, one of the Venetian girls’ orphanages; he remained there until 1709, and held the post again, 1711-16; he then became maestro de’ concerti. Later, when he was away from Venice, he retained his connection with the Pietà (at one period he sent two concertos by post each month). He became maestro di cappella, 1735-8; even after then he supplied concertos and directed performances on special occasions. Vivaldi’s reputation had begun to grow with his first publications: trio sonatas (probably 1703-5), violin sonatas (1709) and especially his 12 concertos L’estro armonico op.3 (1711). These, containing some of his finest concertos, were issued in Amsterdam and widely circulated in northern Europe; this prompted visiting musicians to seek him out in Venice and in some cases commission works from him (notably for the Dresden court). Bach transcribed five op.3 concertos for keyboard, and many German composers imitated his style. He published two further sets of sonatas and seven more of concertos, including La stravaganza op.4 (circa 1712), Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (circa 1725, including ‘The Four Seasons’) and La cetra (1727). It is in the concerto that Vivaldi’s chief importance lies. He was the first composer to use ritornello form regularly in fast movements, and his use of it became a model; the same is true of his three-movement plan (fast-slow-fast). His methods of securing greater thematic unity were widely copied, especially the integration of solo and ritornello material; his vigorous rhythmic pattems, his violinistic figuration and his use of sequence were also much imitated. Of his circa 550 concertos, circa 350 are for solo instrument (more than 230 for violin); there are circa 40 double concertos, more than 30 for multiple soloists and nearly 60 for orchestra without solo, while more than 20 are chamber concertos for a small group of solo instruments without orchestra (the ‘tutti’ element is provided by the instmments all playing together). Vivaldi was an enterprising orchestrator, writing several concertos for unusual combinations like viola d’amore and lute, or for ensembles including chalumeaux, clarinets, horns and other rarities. There are also many solo concertos for bassoon, cello, oboe and flute. Some of his concertos are programmatic, for example ‘La tempesta di mare’ (the title of three concertos). Into this category also fall ‘The Four Seasons’, with their representation of seasonal activities and conditions accommodated within a standard ritornello form – these are described in the appended sonnets, which he may have written himself. Vivaldi was also much engaged in vocal music. He wrote a quantity of sacred works, chiefly for the Pietà girls, using a vigorous style in which the influence of the concerto is often marked. He was also involved in opera and spent much time travelling to promote his works. His earliest known opera was given in Vicenza in 1713; later he worked at theatres in Venice, Mantua (1718-20), Rome (probably 1723-5), possibly Vienna and Prague (around 1730), Ferrara (1737), Amsterdam (1738) and possibly Vienna during his last visit. He was by most accounts a difficult man; in 1738 he was forbidden entry to Ferrara ostensibly because of his refusal to say Mass and his relationship with the singer Anna Giraud, a pupil of his with whom he travelled. More than 20 of his operas survive; those that have been revived include music of vitality and imagination as well as more routine items. But Vivaldi’s importance lies above all in his concertos, for their boldness and originality and for their central place in the history of concerto form.

About these works:

The concertos featured on this CD were discovered under the most unusual cir-cumstances. In 1926, the Salesian fathers, who ran a Piedmontese boarding school, inquired at the National Library in Turin about the value of a manuscript collection they owned. The material was turned over to Professor Alberto Centili at Turin University, who found before him volume upon volume of Vivaldi manuscripts. It transpired that the collection had once belonged to Count Giacomo Durazzo, a patron of Chick. Later, another substantial portion of the Durazzo holdings was found in Genoa, in the home of one of his descendants. The two groups of Durazzo manuscripts are known as the Mauro Foa and Renzo Giordano Collections. The Concerto for Two Mandolins is technically a concerto grosso, with the two mandolins comprising the cencertino role. Vivaldi probably wrote for this unusual combination to endear himself to influential patrons who played the mandolin. The C Minor Concerto, dubbed La notte, is a concerto grosso in which the high-pitched flute and the low-voiced bassoon form the concertino. Here, the composer abandons his customary three-movement pattern for a multi-sectional and rhapsodic structure whose individual sections follow each other without break. Vivaldi also applied the construction idea from his solo concertos to his concerti ripieni or concerti a quattro, which were three-movement pieces for string ensemble (violins I and II, viola, bass) with a keyboard instrument (harpsichord or organ), as in the Concerto in A Major. The Concerto in C Minor for Bassoon is one of a total of 38 concerti Vivaldi wrote for this instrument. He must have had excellent players at his disposal, for these are virtuoso pieces which exhibit charming instrumental combinations. The Concerto in C Major for Violin, Strings in due con and Two Harpsichords noticeably connects Baroque instrumental music with Renaissance vocal art. The due cori that form the division of the orchestra are direct descendants of the cori spezzati (split choruses that sang in alternation, following the ancient antiphonal practice). The application of the cori spezzati technique to instrumental music led to the concerto grosso.

Track List:
01. Concerto In G Major for Two Mandolins, Strings & Organ – I. Allegro (4:20)
02. Concerto In G Major for Two Mandolins, Strings & Organ – II. Andante (2:29)
03. Concerto In G Major for Two Mandolins, Strings & Organ – III Alegro (3:39)
04. Concerto In G Minor For Flute, Basson, Strings & Harpsichord – I. Largo (2:21)
05. Concerto In G Minor For Flute, Basson, Strings & Harpsichord – II. Fantasmi (Presto) (2:46)
06. Concerto In G Minor For Flute, Basson, Strings & Harpsichord – III. Il Sonno (Largo) (1:39)
07. Concerto In G Minor For Flute, Basson, Strings & Harpsichord – IV Allegro (2:52)
08. Concerto In A Major For Strings & Harpsichord – I. Allegro molto (2:57)
09. Concerto In A Major For Strings & Harpsichord – II. Andante molto (2:42)
10. Concerto In A Major For Strings & Harpsichord – III. Allegro (2:18)
11. Concerto In G Minor For Basson, Strings & Hsrpsichord – I. Presto (3:58)
12. Concerto In G Minor For Basson, Strings & Hsrpsichord – II. Largo (3:29)
13. Concerto In G Minor For Basson, Strings & Hsrpsichord – III. Allegro (3:10)
14. Concerto In C Major For Violin, Two Strings Choirs & Two Harpsichords – I. Andante (5:30)
15. Concerto In C Major For Violin, Two Strings Choirs & Two Harpsichords – II. Largo (3:12)
16. Concerto In C Major For Violin, Two Strings Choirs & Two Harpsichords – III. Allegro (5:36)

The Players:
I Solisti Di Zagreb
Antonio Janigro: conductor
Herbert Tachezi: harpsichord

Stereo, ADD, mp3, 320 kbps, 124.78 Mb, 52:58 minutes. Covers & info included.

Part1 —–   Part2

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