MEDIA PARTNER

Friday, June 21, 2013

PROGRAM SCHEDULE  •  SUN 16  •  MON 17  •  WED 19  •  FRI 21  •  SUN 23

Sherman Library & Gardens, Central Patio Room, 8 p.m.

Music in the Gardens II: Viva Italia!

This concert was generously underwritten by Patricia Bril

David Shostac, flute
Lara Wickes, oboe
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Timothy Landauer, violoncello
Gabriel Arregui, harpsichord


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto da Camera in F major, RV 99

Allegro
Largo
Allegro


Giovanni Benedetto Platti (1697?-1763)
Sonata Prima
for violoncello

Adagio
Allegro
Largo
Presto


Giuseppi Antonio Brescianello (1690-1758)
Trio in c minor
for oboe, violin and continuo

Largo
Allegro
Adagio
Allegro


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto da camera in D major, RV 94

Allegro
Largo
Allegro

Intermission

 

Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764)
Sonata in G major
for flute

Adagio
Allegro
Largo
(Allegro molto)


Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Toccata in A minor
for solo harpsichord


Giovanni Benedetto Platti (1697?-1763)
Sonata in C minor
for oboe

Adagio assai
Allegro assai
Non tanto adagio
Giga – Presto


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto da camera in G minor, RV 107

Allegro
Largo
Allegro

Reception


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Three of the pieces on tonight’s program are chamber concertos by Vivaldi. So far, if you have attended our previous two chamber concerts this week, you have encountered “normal” concertos, in which a soloist stands in front of an orchestra and the two parties take turns being important; you’ve met a concerto by Telemann for four solo violins and no orchestra at all; and you’ve heard some chamber music. And now you might well be wondering what a chamber concerto could be!

These Vivaldi chamber concertos resemble the aforementioned Telemann in that there is no orchestra involved. However, unlike the Telemann, Vivaldi writes these pieces in a true ritornello form: the five instruments involved take on the role of the missing orchestra when playing the recurring thematic material together, and then accompany each other to some degree in more soloistic passages.

The F major Chamber Concerto is very flute-centered; there are virtually no solos for oboe or violin. The first movement is ebullient and explosive by turns, the second is a very simple flute tune with an even simpler accompaniment, and the last is eccentric and colorful, full of peculiar phrase lengths and highly ornamented flute solos. The work ends with a bizarre and comical back-and-forth in which the flute keeps trying to launch a solo, and is repeatedly defeated by the rest of the band. BACK

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Giovanni Benedetto Platti’s Cello Sonata is full of mellifluous sunniness. In the first movement, he does manage to get from friendly D major to the darker B minor — but just isn’t troubled enough to dwell on it, and instead simply returns, without formal modulation, to his happy home key. In the second movement, he is somewhat more harmonically adventurous, visiting a couple of troubled minor-key neighborhoods, but again never allowing his cantabile to be infected by them. The third movement is entirely in the relative minor (B minor), but even here, the initial serious dotted rhythms give way almost immediately to flowing slurred figures. Platti evidently has no appetite in this movement for emotional stress! The final Presto is an engaging gigue, calling Vivaldi, or even Corelli, to mind. BACK

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Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello did not have a highly distinguished career, but even modestly talented composers can occasionally outdo themselves. In his Trio in C minor, the highly rhetorical opening Largo gives way to an Allegro characterized by clearly defined phrase structures, and equally well-defined contrasting sections. The opening ritornello is handled imitatively, almost fugally, and makes a splendid contrast with the virtuosic passaggi between its reappearances. Much of the brilliance in this movement is provided by arpeggiated violin figuration (Brescianello was principally a violinist), but you will notice that the bass line dominates the action in a dashing fashion for a bit.

The violin takes the lead in the Adagio which follows. Iin this movement, particularly, Brescianello’s familiarity with the forward-looking Neapolitan manner is evident; one can almost feel the Classical style waiting in the wings. The lively and quirky final Allegro is full of rhetorical queries and leaping figures, as the two soloists accompany, interrupt and comment on each other. BACK

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Vivaldi’s D major chamber concerto, with which we end the first half of this evening’s program, is a substantial piece, featuring more and longer solos than the others. Atypically, the lion’s share of the solo opportunities fall to the violin, except in the slow movement, which is again scored for flute and basso continuo. BACK

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L ocatelli’s Flute Sonata in G major is beautifully proportioned, sweet, graceful, and dazzling — everything a flute sonata should be. The rather predictable phrases and sequences of the opening Adagio are decorated with charming roulades. In the subsequent Allegro, an emphatic opening measure gives way immediately to tricky flute figures, each more brilliant than the last. Locatelli writes the simple and lovely Largo in the subdominant key, C major, a harmonic move that produces a sense of expansive relaxation. If the word “rococo” may be defined as “elaborately ornamental,” the closing Allegro is a rococo piece par excellence! BACK

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I n addition to composing at least 600 cantatas, more than 50 operas, and many motets and masses, Alessandro Scarlatti turned his inventive and dynamic attention to more intimate works, composing many fugues, dances and toccatas for solo keyboard. Toccatas are generally designed to show off the performer’s flashy fingerwork, and Scarlatti’s Toccata in A minor is no exception. The full and impressive gamut of arpeggios, scales, blocky chords, triplets, and stunning speed is run here in double-quick time. BACK

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A sonata’s opening slow movement often has an explicitly introductory character. Not true in the Oboe Sonata by Platti. The music immediately takes a flying leap into harmonic, figurative, and expressive complexity. Though this is not a long movement, Platti finds time to move from C minor through E-flat major, G minor and F minor before returning home. The following Allegro assai continues in the harmonically and melodically complex vein he is mining, full of unpredictable phrase lengths, and short-lived bursts of ornamental figuration that threaten to undermine the stability of the piece. The third movement is perhaps more “legible,” having markedly more conventional phrase lengths, and the closing Presto is a headlong tail-chasing jig, with virtuoso figuration galore. BACK

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The first movement of Vivaldi’s G minor chamber concerto is full of determined brilliance; the second is the only slow movement of the three concertos scored for all players. The last movement is a ciacona, a relatively uncommon formal choice for Vivaldi — and judging by this one, it’s a real shame he employed it so rarely! It begins tautly and builds in tension and complexity all the way to the end. The repeated bass line consists of eight bars, but midway through the movement Vivaldi manages to increase the tension by eliding the last of the eight bars with the first of the next eight. This compositional trick shortens the phrase length by one bar, subtly creating a wonderfully breathless feel. BACK

Notes by Elizabeth Blumenstock

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