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8.550104 - BAROQUE FESTIVAL
The third disc in the Naxos Baroque series is devoted principally to music by Telemann, Handel and Vivaldi. The collection opens, however, with music that has won enormous popularity in recent years, the Canon and Gigue by the Nuremberg composer Johann Pachelbel. The Canon consists of a series of 28 variations over a short repeated bass figure, scored for three violins and basso continuo. Pachelbel, among the most distinguished Protestant composers of his time in Germany, was born in Nuremberg and returned there in 1695 as organist of the principal church of the city, having rejected an earlier invitation to move to Oxford.
Giuseppe Sammartini, brother of the better known Giovanni Battista Sammartini, was one of the eight sons of a French oboist and his Italian wife and was born in Milan in 1695. With his brothers he performed as an oboist and after 1728 made his home in England, where he was well known as a performer and as a composer, serving as music master to the Princess of Wales and her children from 1736. He had a strong influence on English oboe-playing and his compositions, published posthumously, were held in great esteem for a considerable time. The slow movement of his F major Recorder Concerto, in the key of A minor, is a gently pastoral Siciliano.
It is in relatively recent years that Antonio Vivaldi has been given something of his due. Born in Venice in 1678, the son of a musician, he became a priest, teaching the violin and later serving as master of music at the Ospedale della Pietá, one of the tour charitable foundations established in Venice for the education of girls, whether orphans, illegitimate or indigent, and boasting the strongest musical traditions. Vivaldi's employment at the Pieta was intermittent, but involved him, by an agreement of 1723, in the provision of two concertos a month for his pupils, further swelling a body of work that was already considerable. He was, at the same time, involved in work in the opera-house, as composer, performer and manager, and added significantly to the repertoire of church music. As a violinist he possessed a phenomenal technique, the wonder of all who saw and heard him, and may be credited with significant developments in the form of the solo concerto.
The present collection includes five excerpts from longer compositions by Vivaldi. The first is taken from a concerto for solo violin, strings and continuo published in Amsterdam in 1729/30 as the first in a set of six such concertos. The second is the slow movement of one of the four A minor concertos Vivaldi wrote for the cello, and the third a movement from a C major concerto written for flautino, now generally thought to be a sopranino recorder. The fourth excerpt is taken from a C minor concerto for alto recorder and the fifth from a concerto for oboe now transcribed for trumpet.
Georg Philipp Telemann, god-father of Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel, was director of music in Hamburg for the greater part of his career, controlling the music in the five principal city churches and providing a prolific supply of further compositions for sacred and secular, professional and amateur use. The first of the four excerpts included in the present collection consists of the first and fourth movement of the concerto he w rote for solo trumpet and the second is the third movement of a G minor concerto for two violins. The third excerpt is the first movement of a B flat concerto for trumpet and the final one an Allegro from a concerto for two horns included in the Musique de table published in Hamburg in 1733.
The first of two items by Handel is an arrangement of a recorder sonata published in London in 1730 and the second is a movement from the first of his twelve Opus 6 Concerti Grossi, scored for strings and continuo and written in 1739 for immediate publication, unlike earlier sets of concertos and sonatas that represent more haphazard forms of anthology. By the 1730s Handel was firmly established in London, after childhood and adolescence in his native Hallé, followed by a brief period of work as a musician at the opera in Hamburg and a longer time spent in Italy, where he had first-hand experience of Italian opera. It was as a composer of Italian opera that he had first visited London in 1710, after taking immediate leave of absence from his new master, the Elector of Hanover, and it was in the same capacity that he settled there in 1712. From 1739 he turned his attention more fully to English oratorio, a happy combination of Italianate music with words and stories eminently satisfactory to Protestant England. It is the same felicitous and melodic Italian style that prevails in his instrumental compositions.
Johann Sebastian Bach, a movement from whose Brandenburg Concerto No.1 for two horns, three oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo is included in the collection, like Handel went some way towards combining the musical influences of Italy, France and Germany, the last, in his case, predominating. An organist by early training and family background, he was employed from 1717 to 1723 as Court Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Coethen, a period devoted largely to the composition of instrumental music, before moving to Leipzig as Cantor at the Thomasschule, where he spent the rest of his life. The Brandenburg Concertos, a set of six orchestral works for varied forces, were completed by 1721 and dedicated to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, in Berlin, a prince from whom Bach might have hoped for preferment. The second movement of the first Brandenburg Concerto, marked Adagio, makes use only of three oboes, a solo violin, intended for the violino piccolo, a smaller form of the instrument, strings, bassoon and continuo.
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