|About this Recording
8.550274 - BAROQUE GUITAR FAVOURITES
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
J. S. Bach (1685 - 1750)
Antonio Vivaldi was one of the best violinists of his day, and many of his concertos were written for his own performance. Among these is the Concerto in E minor, Opus 11, No.2, known as II Favorito, and one of those dedicated to the Emperor Charles VI. This is one of the finest concertos of the period in terms of expressiveness and organisation of musical content. The possibilities for subtlety of expression and sustained notes available on the twentieth century guitar enabled me to transcribe this masterpiece with hardly any alteration. A more obvious choice for transcription, however, is the lute music which Vivaldi wrote, as both guitar and lute are sounded by plucking strings with fingers. Part of the charm of the plucked string sound lies in the dying away of a note as soon as it is played. The concerto in D major brings the lute to the fore and many solo passages are supported by only the basso continuo. These lute pieces were written around 1730 and dedicated to a Bohemian, Count Wrtby. It is perhaps appropriate that they were recorded in Slovakia with musicians whose pedigree extends back to that time. The Trio Sonatas in C major and G minor, RV 82 and RV 85, were originally written for violin, lute and continuo, instead of the more usual two violins. Again, transcription of the lute part for guitar is relatively straightforward.
Johann Sebastian Bach transcribed several of Vivaldi's works and possibly gained an appreciation of the Italian style through them. He also frequently transcribed his own works when occasion demanded, and many of his harpsichord concertos were originally written for other instrumental combinations. If, for instance, there was a shortage of good violinists, or he needed an instrumental interlude in a Cantata (which had to be produced weekly), he could quickly substitute a keyboard part for himself or one of his sons to play. The Concerto in D minor thus started life as a violin concerto, probably during the composer's days as court music director at Cöthen between 1717 and 1723. It next appears in Cantata 146 and then in Cantata 188, transcribed an octave lower for organ. The sombre middle movement is punctuated by a choir singing the words to 'Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal'. Finally the concerto was transcribed for harpsichord around 1735 and this is the version I use as the basis for the guitar version. Many guitaristic idioms were revealed in the course of preparing this arrangement, for example homophony and the extensive use of pedal-notes on open strings. These are of course violinistic devices as well. The piece uses, then transforms the premise of the Italian concerto that soloist and orchestra should have contrasting themes. In the momentous first movement both orchestra and soloist are plunged into the turbulent theme which they share and develop equally. D minor was a key associated with the emotions of uncertainty and despair in the Baroque period. This mood permeates the reflective and highly decorated Adagio and is continued in the finale which, in its choice of two opposing themes, guarantees a conflict between soloist and orchestra to the very end.
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