About this Recording
2.110297 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - ITALY: A Musical Tour of South Tyrol (NTSC)
English 

A Musical Tour of Italy’s South Tyrol
With music by George Frideric Handel

 

CHAPTER 1

Church of St Jakob and Landscape at Tramin

The Tramin valley has given its name to the famous wine made there, Gewürztraminer. The Church of St Jakob at Kastelaz, nearby, is built on foundations that were those of a temple to Isis. The structure combines the romanesque and the gothic and contains a remarkable series of frescoes, some showing grotesque figures, half man, half beast, with 13th century representations of more orthodox scenes, the twelve Apostles and the four Evangelists.

Music Handel: Concerto Grosso in C minor Op 6, No 8
Allemande – Grave – Andante allegro – Adagio – Siciliana – Allegro

The Concerto grosso was among the most popular baroque instrumental forms, with a small group, the concertino, often of two violins, cello and keyboard, contrasted with a full string orchestra, the ripieno. In his Concerti grossi Handel was using a form that had been established in the late 17th century, particularly through composers such as Corelli, with whom he had played during his time in Rome. The set of twelve Concerti grossi that form Opus 6, published in London by John Walsh in 1740, use, as Corelli and many of his successors had done, a small solo group of two violins and cello in contrast with the rest of the string orchestra. A set of similar works, published in 1734 and using wind instruments in addition to strings and basso continuo, had been derived from a variety of earlier sources. The Opus 6 Concerti were all written with a direct view to their publication and were composed consecutively between 29 September and 20 October 1739. The Concerto Grosso in C minor, Op 6, No 8, opens with an Allemande, the French court dance that had become an established introduction to the Baroque instrumental dance suite. A very short slow movement leads to music that has a lively enough opening figure, over a steadily walking rhythm in the bass. There is a further slow interlude that leads to a Siciliana, a dance derived remotely from the shepherd dances of Sicily, its pastoral origin suggesting an association with Christmas that Corelli and his contemporaries had exploited. To this Handel adds a brief and cheerful postscript.

CHAPTER 2

Bozen-Gries: Parish Church and Landscape

Bozen (Bolzano) became the property of the Habsburgs in 1363, briefly formed part of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy, and thereafter, until 1918, remained Austrian territory. After the war it was ceded to Italy, and under Mussolini attempts were made to introduce more Italians into the area. In Bozen there is a Gothic cathedral, with a coloured roof, various gargoyles and a porch decorated with carved figures. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The town itself has colourful traditional houses and a market that is evidence of the fertility of the valley where Bozen lies. There is, in the main square, a statue of the Minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide. In the distance loom the Dolomites.

Music Handel: Concerto Grosso in D minor Op 6, No 10
Ouverture – Allegro – Air – Allegro – Allegro – Allegro moderato

The Concerto Grosso in D minor, Op 6, No 10, opens with a French overture, a slow introduction in dotted rhythm, followed by the usual fugue, with a brief slow conclusion. There is a solemn Air, a briefly imitative Allegro, a fugal movement and a final dance.

CHAPTER 3

Bozen (Bolzano)

Bozen (Bolzano) became the property of the Habsburgs in 1363, briefly formed part of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy, and thereafter, until 1918, remained Austrian territory. After the war it was ceded to Italy, and under Mussolini attempts were made to introduce more Italians into the area. In Bozen there is a Gothic cathedral, with a coloured roof, various gargoyles and a porch decorated with carved figures. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The town itself has colourful traditional houses and a market that is evidence of the fertility of the valley where Bozen lies. There is, in the main square, a statue of the Minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide. In the distance loom the Dolomites.

Music Handel: Concerto Grosso in B minor Op 6, No 12
Largo – Allegro – Larghetto e piano – Variatio – Largo – Allegro

The last of the Opus 6 set, the Concerto Grosso in B minor, Op 6, No 12, starts with the suggestion, at least, of an overture, an introductory Largo, followed by a livelier section of imitative writing. There is a short slow movement, in a texture of only three parts, as opposed to the usual four-part writing, and this is expanded in a following variation, over a moving bass. The two solo violins of the concertino and the solo cello weave their own pattern in a further slow movement, before the final fugal Allegro.

CHAPTER 4

Eppan: Schloss Gandegg

Schloss Gandegg, at Eppan, on the Weinstrasse, the Wine Road, that leads through the valleys of the region, has been in the hands of the Khuen family since 1550, when it was acquired and rebuilt by Blasius Khuen von Belasi. A medieval tower is preserved, from an older building, and the wood-panelled interior holds characteristic stoves from the 16th and 17th century and fine antique furniture.

Music Handel: Concerto Grosso in C major (Alexander’s Feast)
Allegro – Largo – Allegro – Andante non presto

The Concerto Grosso in C major was written in 1736 for the oratorio Alexander’s Feast, a setting of John Dryden’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day, reminding us that the oratorios of Handel’s time were normally expanded by the addition of instrumental concertos of one sort or another. Alexander’s Feast in fact included, at its first performance at Covent Garden on 19 February 1736, a concerto for lute and harp, appropriate enough considering the words set, and an organ concerto, as well as the so-called Alexander’s Feast Concerto, which was played in the interval. The work, which is scored for oboes, strings and continuo, follows a lively opening movement with a Largo in which the solo instruments enter in imitation. There is a fugal Allegro and a gently lilting conclusion, that would have led into Act II of the oratorio.


Keith Anderson

Recording
Capella Istropolitana conducted by Jozef Kopelman [Naxos 8.550158]


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