(arr. by Olivier Fourès of Vivaldi’s incomplete Concert for violin and organ in C major RV 774)
Allegro * first performance
Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni(1671 – 1750) is an Italian baroque composer from a well-off Venetian trading family. His first encounters with music took the shape of singing and playing the violin. Despite his talent, which made him famous all over Italy, Albinoni never wanted a place at the palace or the church and preferred to remain a dilettante – an independent artist who uses his talent exclusively for his own enjoyment and the satisfaction of the audience. During the first stage of his composing, Albinoni dedicated himself to the repertoire of church music types. Thus, his early opus includes a three-voice mass, Magnificat, and a series of spiritual cantatas. In 1694 Albinoni achieved great success by composing musical types for which he was better prepared during his musical education: the opera Zenobia and his first instrumental opus, op. 1, which includes 12 trio sonatas. Precisely instrumental chamber music (sonatas and concertos) and vocal forms (operas and solo cantatas) will become the main fields of Albinoni’s long-standing (47 years) work as a composer. The general assessments of Albinoni’s creative work often had a negative tone and critics accused him of technical shortages, personal stereotypes and repetitiveness of procedures, which disabled a stronger development of the multi-voice style. However, he compensated for his possible technical shortages with unlimited inspiration, by always creating ever new, distinct melodic sets. His popularity is also confirmed by four Bach’s fugues for harpsichord, which are based on melodic samples of Albinoni’s op. 1. His Symphony in G minor pertains to the composer’s early instrumental opus no. 2, which, along with six symphonies, also contains the same number of concertos for five instruments.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) was appreciated as an exceptional violinist and composer during his lifetime, but his work fell into oblivion for almost two centuries after his death. His true value was not discovered until 1930, when more than half of his currently known works were discovered. This way the “red priest” (a nickname he received for his fiery red hair) once again gained the reputation he deserved and was recognised as the composer that set the foundations for the mature baroque style. He wrote many compositions in instrumental music, the main field of his creative work – concertos, symphonies and sonatas. With his concertos Vivaldi established the three-movement form of the baroque concerto. His composing procedures were quoted by Tartini and Locatelli, as well as Bach and Telemann among German composers. Out of 350 Vivaldi’s solo concertos, as many as 230 were written for violin. Around 40 double concertos also include the Double concerto for violin and psaltery RV 774. Vivaldi’s early concertos Concerto à 4 in D major RV 121 and Concerto à 4 in D minor RV 127 already show the beginnings of Vivaldi’s unique concerto style, such as the expressive coloristic effects, mutation or pizzicato, as well as developmental dynamic changes and contrast. Many Vivaldi’s works received their descriptive titles subsequently. Some took over the names of their famous performers (Il Carbonelli RV366), some the descriptions of their programme musical characteristics, and some received their names after the occasion for which they were composed. These include this evening’s Concerto grosso à 4 op. 8, no. 6 in G minor (Concerto, in forma di Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale), whose title clearly designates the spiritual character of the concerto intended for performance during pre-Christmas and Christmas time.
Giovanni Agostino Perotti (1769 – 1855) is an Italian composer, educator and author of many theoretical pieces about music. He acquired musical education in Bologna, Vienna, London, and Venice, while performing at concerts as a harpsichordist and pianist. He is connected to the neoclassical academies Corpo Accademico dei Sofronimi, Accademia Veneta Letteraria, and other institutions that played a crucial role in the support of the artistic life of Venice during the Napoleonic period. In 1811, Perotti issued his most important literary work, Dissertazione … [sullo] stato attuale della musica in Italia (Dissertation on the Current Condition of Musical Life in Italy) for which he received an award in the same year and which, due to its popularity, was translated into French, English and German in the years that followed. The opus of Giovanni Perotti mostly includes sacral works. In his compositions dedicated to the St. Mark cathedral we notice a period of transitional from the old Venetian composing practice of the 18th century to the new modern style represented by Antonio Buzzolla. Perotti’s masses are of concerto character: groups of soloists and tuttis alternate in the presentation of the music material. The dogmatism and classicism in the works of Giovanni Perotti are present not only in his literary works, but also in his instrumental and vocal pieces in which he, in accordance with his world view, remains loyal to the archaic style of the 18th century, particularly in his mature stage. The Sonata for psaltery and basso continuo represents one of the rare instrumental pieces of Giovanni Perotti, a unique example of exclusively baroque character.
The Italian composer Giuseppe Torelli (1658 – 1709) greatly contributed to the development of the instrumental concerto (concerto grosso and solo concerto) and to the Italian baroque repertoire for the trumpet and strings. He reached his mature concerto style through chamber music, which is rich in experimental technical procedures similar to future techniques of this popular music type. Torelli’s inclination to instrumental forms is the result of his work in the church chapel of the San Petronio basilica in Bologna and his long-standing employment as an instrumentalist in the Brandenburg court orchestra. His late concerto opuses (op. 6, op. 7 and op. 8) represent a more developed stage of his composing work, in which Torelli uses wider episodes of non-thematic content, as well as more comprehensive ritornello fragments that appear reduced in the middle and at the very end of the composition. Torelli’s op. 8, a part of which is also the Concerto grosso à 4, no. 6 in G minor, witnesses the maturity of the composer’s musical ideas that had previously been only hinted in his earlier works. His concertos follow the three-part division of rhythm (quick-slow-quick), characteristic of the overture of the Italian operas of the time. Concerti grossi and solo concertos op. 8 leave the framework of the traditional Bologna counterpoint in favour of the dominating solo part aided by a logical harmonic accompaniment, sequential progressions, clear cadences and expressive tonal contrast. Ritornello fragments and the always especially melodically created episodes are independent parts in clear contrast, which show the way to a more developed stage of the concerto musical type.