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Sunday, June 15, 2008

ARCHIVE  •  2008  •  SUN 15  •  MON 16  •  WED 18  •  FRI 20  •  SUN 22

Saint Michael & All Angels Church, 4 p.m.

Baroque Concertos

Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Rob Diggins, violin
Jolianne von Einem, violin
William Skeen, violoncello
John Thiessen, trumpet
Timothy Howard, organ
Festival Orchestra
Burton Karson, conductor


Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Concerto in D
for trumpet

Allegro
Adagio – Presto – Adagio
Allegro


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto in F, RV 410
for violoncello

Allegro
Largo
Allegro


Giuseppe Sammartini (1695-1750)
Concerto in A
for organ

Andante spiritoso
Allegro assai
Andante
Allegro assai


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto in B flat, RV 375
for violin

Allegro
Largo
Allegro

Intermission


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043
for two violins

Vivace
Largo, ma non tanto
Allegro


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Concerto in D
for violin, trumpet & violoncello obbligato

Vivace
Adagio
Allegro

Reception


Nhe Baroque era often has been called the age of the concerto. The stile concertato — that is, the contrasting of one characteristic of sound clearly against another: loud versus soft, high versus low, solo versus ensemble, linear versus chordal, strings versus winds, and so forth — was found in all kinds of music composed during this period, whether vocal or instrumental, church or chamber.

The “concerto” was a natural development of this, both the concerto grosso that contrasted a small group of soloists (concertino) with a larger orchestral group of strings (ripieno) as well as the solo concerto for one virtuoso player against the orchestra. Today’s program will include examples of both the solo and grosso types.

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Giuseppe Torelli was born in Verona, Italy, on 22 April 1658, 350 years ago. His early talents as a composer and violinist took him to Bologna and later to Germany and Austria. Many of his concertos were published during his lifetime in Bologna, and more have yet to be printed. We celebrate his birthday during this week with concerted trumpet music this afternoon and on Monday evening’s organ recital and Wednesday evening’s Music in the Gardens, and with a trio sonata for flute, violin, violoncello and harpsichord on this Friday evening’s Music in the Gardens.

Torelli’s Concerto in D for Trumpet (which was not published in Bologna and therefore does not have the usual Giegling catalogue number) was written in the three-movement form that became standardized a bit later by Vivaldi in Venice. The orchestra begins the opening movement with the main theme and remains constantly under the soloist. The trumpet (here a modern reproduction of a specific period instrument without valves) rests during the middle movement, a common practice, returning for a festive finale. BACK

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Antonio Vivaldi wrote over 500 instrumental concertos, of which 27 are for violoncello. If all of them were written for the orphaned young ladies of the Pio Ospidale della Pietà, his musical charges in Venice, their talents and techniques must have been phenomenal indeed.

This concerto (one of two Vivaldi composed in F), Ryom’s Catalogue No. 410, begins with the typical ritornello form, the orchestra giving us a theme that subsequently is heard in various keys between brilliant solo escapades by the cellist, usually with basso continuo only. The second movement is a short bipartite form (with each half repeated) without the full strings, and the final Allegro is based on a theme that begins with the same melodic and rhythmic impulse heard in the opening movement.  BACK

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Giuseppe Sammartini, brother of composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, was born in Milan, the son of French oboist Alexis Saint-Martin. A famous oboist himself (by age 25, with his brother, an oboist in the ducal orchestra in Milan), he moved to London by about age 33, remaining there as a composer of vocal and instrumental music and as oboist (even in Handel’s orchestra!).

The Concerto in A, one of four keyboard concertos published by Walsh four years after the composer’s death, keeps us waiting until the second movement, in typical ritornello form, to hear solo organ passages, both alone and over the strings. To balance that, the Andante begins with solo organ introducing the theme soon reflected in the strings. The final minuet-like movement is based on a pervasive phrase that begins with a catchy triplet figure. BACK

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Vivaldi’s violin concerto in B flat emerges from an outpouring of well over 200 for violin! Antonio “The Red Priest” (red hair ran in the family), who was appointed maestro di violino at the Pietà a few years before he suspended priestly duties due to professed illness and was censured by the church for conduct unbecoming a priest, also composed sonatas and concertos for all manner and combinations of instruments, as well as cantatas, motets, oratorios, psalms, and a very long list of operas (he died in Vienna, Austria, while there to supervise an operatic production).

This concerto, like his others (some of which were admired and even rearranged by Bach), follows his usual fast-slow-fast format that invites a stunning display of technical virtuosity, especially in the outer movements. BACK

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Johann Sebastian’s famous concerto for two violins, which was last played here by Rob Diggins and Jolianne von Einem during our 2002 season, is considered one of the monuments of Baroque concerto literature, along with the Brandenburg Concertos that date from his employment by the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen, prior to Bach’s move to Leipzig.

Since the prince was a Calvinist whose chapel needed no concerted music, Bach’s primary assignment was the production of chamber music for the entertainment of the court. Bach later reworked this masterpiece for two harpsichords. Here the captivating interchanges between soloists in the outer fast movements surround a slow movement of lofty lyricism that approaches the ethereal. BACK

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Georg Philipp Telemann may be the most prolific composer in history, counting individual compositions in the categories of church cantatas and ceremonial pieces, passions and oratorios, Lutheran masses, psalms and motets, operas, secular cantatas and occasional pieces, songs, works for keyboard and lute, and nearly 100 concertos, both solo and concerto grosso. Telemann’s interest in secular musical entertainment was proved when he started the famous Collegium Musicum (later to be conducted by Bach) in Leipzig before moving to Hamburg.

This seldom performed concerto for the unlikely combination of violin and trumpet, with some solo passages for the violoncello, treats the principal solo instruments idiomatically, the valveless trumpet basically outlining the overtone series and the violin covering the strings frenetically, often with tricky double-stopping. Again, the trumpet is allowed to rest during the slow movement, which is dominated by the violin; however, the trumpet reasserts itself at the outset of the brilliant finale. BACK

Notes by Burton Karson

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