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8.553446 - LOCATELLI: Concerti Grossi, Op. 1, Nos. 7-12
Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695 -1764)
Concerti grossi, Op.1, Nos. 7 -12
Concerto grosso No.7 in F major
Concerto grosso No.8 in F minor (Christmas Concerto)
Concerto grosso No.9 in D major
Concerto grosso No.10 in C major
Concerto grosso No.11 in C minor
Concerto grosso No.12 in G minor
A native of Bergamo, Pietro Locatelli was born in 1695 and started his career there as a violinist at the church of S Maria Maggiore, a position he left in 1711 in order to study in Rome. There it is suggested that he took lessons from Corelli, a leading figure in the music of the city, still living in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni, the Cancelleria, which he left the following year, as his health failed. Locatelli had a clear debf to the tradition established by Corelli, but it has been doubted that he was ever his pupil The possibility has been suggested that Locatelli studied with the Florentine Giuseppe Valentini, presumed to have been a former pupil of Corelli, a younger man, who, like Locatelli in later years, also included the viola in the concertino of his concerti grossi of 17l0. It was with Valentini that he travelled about this time. His career as a performer continued in Italy, with the patronage of Cardinal Ottoboni and of the Habsburg Governor of Mantua, Prince Philip of Hessen-Darmstadt, who had given Vivaldi the title of maestro di cappella da camera, a position enjoyed largely in absentia. Similarly Locatelli became virtuoso da camera to the Prince, suggesting a similar lack of continuing obligation in Mantua, which he must, at least, have visited for a time. Outside Italy he won an increasing reputation for himself during visits to the Bavarian court and to Berlin, the second in the entourage of the Elector of Saxony, August the Strong, employer of Vivaldi's pupil Pisendel and Veracini in a distinguished musical establishment.
In 1729 Locatelli settled in Amsterdam, where he spent the greater part of the rest of his life. Here, while continuing in his profession as a performer, as occasion demanded, he gave his attention to music for gentleman amateurs and to teaching. He collaborated with the important publisher Le Cene and was granted a licence to publish his own chamber music. He enjoyed a position of some importance in the cultural life of the city, while his library is evidence of his own wide interests. His business activities included the importation and sale of Italian violin strings, perhaps through the agency of his mistress, widow of an Italian dealer in Amsterdam. As a violinist he continued to amaze, if not always to delight, those who heard him, as Vivaldi did in Venice. Evidence of his virtuosity is seen in the remarkable L 'arte del violino, a set of twelve concerti with 24 Caprices, published in Amsterdam in 1733, the latter making technical demands on the player comparable to those presented a hundred years later by Paganini in his own Caprices. Like Corelli, his master, if not his teacher, Locatelli wrote principally for strings, with the exception of his Opus 2 flute sonatas and one or two other works now lost.
Locatelli's XII Concerti grossi a 4 e a 5 con 12 fughe, Opus 1, were first published in 1721, to be revised in Amsterdam in 1729. The twelve concerti grossi follow largely the pattern established by Corelli in his influential and widely known concerti grossi, familiar to visitors to Rome in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, but published posthumously in 1714. The form established by Corelli broadly followed the popular trio sonata, scored normally for two violins, cello and harpsichord, organ or other chordal continuo. This was expanded into a larger form in which the instruments of the trio sonata formed a concertino, a small solo group, to be contrasted with the body of the string orchestra, the concerto grosso or ripieno players. On occasions Corelli could muster a very large orchestra, but his normal ensemble consisted of a dozen players, including the solo group. Locatelli differs from Corelli in using one or two violas in the solo group, a practice, as has been noted, followed by Valentini, as it was later by Geminiani and in the revision of Corelli by Pepusch in England. The additional concertino instrument allows more intricate counterpoint in fugal movements and adds a certain fullness to the texture.
The first eight of the Concerti grossi, Opus 1, are in the general form of the sonata or concerto da chiesa, although the seventh adopts the three-movement form of the Venetian concerto. The last four concerti are in the contrasted da camera form. The distinction between church and chamber sonatas lies in the general practice of alternating slow movements with fugal movements in the former, while the latter is in the form of a dance suite. The forms used by Locatelli largely echo those in the published work of Corelli, with the eighth of the set also a Christmas concerto, ending with a pastoral movement, a Siciliano, suggesting the shepherds at Bethlehem, a convention widely followed. The last four concerti grossi of the set keep the general pattern of the German dance, the Allemanda and the slow Sarabande, ending with a quicker dance movement, the conventional Gigueor the less usual concluding Gavotte.
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