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2.110323 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - LUCCA: The Old City / Orsetti Palace / San Martino Cathedral (NTSC)
A Musical Visit to Lucca, Italy
The Old Town
Built on the site of an ancient settlement, Lucca was a Roman colony, its people early adherents of Christianity. It is the seat of an archbishop and was variously occupied by Ostrogoths, Lombards and Franks, over the centuries. It preserves something of its old street plan and city walls.
Music Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in F major, ‘La Tempesta di Mare’, RV433, Op 10, No 1 – I. Allegro
Antonio Vivaldi was born in 1678, studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1703. At the same time he won a reputation for himself as a violinist of phenomenal ability and was appointed violin-master at the Ospedale della Pietà, a charitable institution, established for the education of orphan, indigent or illegitimate girls and boasting a particularly fine musical tradition. Vivaldi’s association with the Pietà continued intermittently throughout his life, from 1723 under a contract that provided for the composition of two new concertos every month. At the same time he enjoyed a connection with the theatre, as the composer of some fifty operas, director and manager. He finally left Venice in 1741, travelling to Vienna, where there seemed some possibility of furthering his career under imperial patronage. He died there a few weeks after his arrival in the city, in relative poverty. The set of six flute concertos published as Op 10 were written about 1728, compositions of some originality, as there had been little precedent for concertos for flute of this kind. The first of the set has the descriptive title La Tempesta di Mare (The Storm at Sea).
The Old Town
The older houses in Lucca reflect something of its history.
Music Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in F major, ‘La Tempesta di Mare’, RV433, Op 10, No 1 – II. Largo
The slow movement of the concerto offers an aria for flute, lightly accompanied.
The Old Town
Narrow streets, ramparts and buildings are seen in glimpses of the city.
Music Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in F major, ‘La Tempesta di Mare’, RV433, Op 10, No 1 – III. Presto
The string orchestra provides a framework for virtuoso episodes for the solo transverse flute.
San Martino Cathedral
The Cathedral of San Martino was consecrated by Pope Alexander II in 1070, but was built on the site of an earlier church. The Gothic interior dates from the 14th and 15th centuries, with stained glass from the latter century. There are ceiling frescoes and a fine crucifix and reredos at the main altar.
Music Vivaldi: Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV 454, Op 8, No 9 – I. Allegro – Moderato
Vivaldi’s Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV 454 in the Peter Ryom listing, was written by 1725, when it was published by Le Cène in Amsterdam as part of Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’Inventione, Op 8 (The Contest of Harmony and Invention), a set of twelve concertos, dedicated to the Bohemian Count Wenzel von Morzin, a cousin of Haydn’s early patron.
San Martino Cathedral
At the heart of the Cathedral of San Martino is the Volto Santo (Sacred Countenance), a cedarwood representation of Christ on the Cross attributed to Nicodemus in origin, but completed by a later miracle. The Cathedral also contains the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, commissioned by her husband Paolo Guinigi, a ruler of Lucca, in 1406. The tomb, with its recumbent figure, dog as a symbol of faithfulness and surrounding putti, is the work of Jacopo
Music Vivaldi: Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV 454, Op 8, No 9 – II. Largo
The slow movement consists of an aria for the solo oboe, accompanied by basso continuo.
San Martino Cathedral
The exterior of the Cathedral presents an ancient façade and a campanile dating, in its lower part, from 1060 and its upper part from the mid-13th century. There are rows of arcades on the outside walls of the building with columns in various forms, the result, it is said, of a competition in which the suggestions of all entrants were accepted and used, without payment.
Music Vivaldi: Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV 454, Op 8, No 9 – III. Allegro
The concerto ends with a rapid final Allegro, the string orchestra supplying a framework for the solo episodes of the oboist.
San Michele Basilica
Started in 1143, the church of San Michele in Foro is in the same style as the Cathedral, its façade ornamented with arcades, four tiers of which decorate the west exterior of the building.
Music Vivaldi: Sonata in G minor, RV 58, ‘Il Pastor Fido’, No 6 (arr. Jean Thilde) – I. Vivace
Il Pastor Fido (The Faithful Shepherd) was the title chosen by French publishers for a set of six sonatas, attributed to Vivaldi, issued as his Op 13, but in fact drawn from various sources. The sixth of the set has been arranged for solo trumpet and strings by Jean Thilde. The trumpet seems not to have been one of the instruments taught at the Ospedale della Pietà, where Vivaldi was employed for so many years, so that there was no need for concertos for the instrument.
Streets of Lucca
The narrow streets and characteristic buildings of Lucca are seen.
Music Vivaldi: Sonata in G minor, RV 58, ‘Il Pastor Fido’, No 6 (arr. Jean Thilde) – II. Lento
The slow movement provides a relatively brief interlude in the composite sonata.
San Frediano Basilica
The church of San Frediano, with its campanile, dates from the 12th century. The façade has a mosaic, restored over the years, of Christ with two angels and the eleven remaining apostles below.
Music Vivaldi: Sonata in G minor, RV 58, ‘Il Pastor Fido’, No 6 (arr. Jean Thilde) – III. Allegro
The final movement is based on the first movement of a concerto for violin, the sixth of a set of twelve, published in 1712 under the title La stravaganza, Op 4 No 6, RV 316a, a work transcribed by Johann Sebastian Bach for harpsichord.
Streets of Lucca
The narrow streets, shops and pigeons of Lucca are seen, with traditional buildings and the churches of the city..
Music Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in D major, ‘Il Gardellino’, RV 428, Op 10, No 3 – I. Allegro
Vivaldi wrote some fifteen concertos for the transverse flute. The concerto known as Il Gardellino (The Goldfinch), like La Tempesta di Mare is included in the Op 10 set of six concertos.
Streets of Lucca and Sunset
The streets and squares of Lucca are seen once more, with a final panorama as the sun sets over the city amid the hills that surround it.
Music Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in D major, ‘Il Gardellino’, RV 428, Op 10, No 3 – II. Cantabile
The slow movement of the concerto is in the dotted rhythm of a Siciliano.
The tour of Lucca continues in the covered market, with its well-stocked stalls.
Music Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in D major, ‘Il Gardellino’, RV 428, Op 10, No 3 – III. Allegro
The flute, with avian agility, completes the concerto in music echoing the song of the bird from which it takes its nickname.
The Orsetti Palace dates from the mid-16th century and was built, on the site of an earlier building, for the Diodati family. It is now the property of the municipality of Lucca and is used for weddings and other ceremonies.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos, RV 531 – I. Allegro
Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos was written after 1710. In the first movement the theme started by the first soloist is immediately taken up by the second.
The various ornate rooms of the Orsetti Palace include a music-room and the Sala Verde, a reception room decorated in green.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos, RV 531 – II. Largo
The concerto continues with a slow movement for the solo instruments, accompanied by basso continuo.
The Orsetti Palace also has a fine Hall of Mirrors, one of its public rooms, ornamented also with gilt mouldings and frescoed ceilings.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos, RV 531 – III. Allegro
The final movement of the concerto draws energy from the syncopation of the theme with which it opens.
The ramparts that surround Lucca were built between 1561 and 1645. In places they are planted with trees and are otherwise ornamented.
Music Vivaldi: Bassoon Concerto in E minor, RV 484 – I. Allegro poco
The bassoon was one of the instruments included in the teaching and performance of the girls of the Ospedale della Pietà. Vivaldi wrote 39 concertos for the instrument, two of them incomplete. The Bassoon Concerto in E minor, RV 484, was probably written between 1720 and 1724.
Further views of the Lucca ramparts reveal something of their extent.
Music Vivaldi: Bassoon Concerto in E minor, RV 484 – II. Andante
The slow movement of the concerto allows a measure of relief from the rapid activity of the opening Allegro.
From the road it is possible to pass by the Lucca ramparts, with its gates, and to see something of the town beyond.
Music Vivaldi: Bassoon Concerto in E minor, RV 484 – III. Allegro
The concerto ends with a demanding final movement. The work may have been written for one of the girls of the Pietà or perhaps for the bassoonist Giuseppe Biancardi, a member of the Guild of Musicians whose name appears on one of the concertos.
RV 58/428/433/454/484: Jiří Válek, Flute; Gabriela Krckova, Oboe; Miroslav Kejmar, Trumpet; Frantisek Hermann, Bassoon; Capella Istropolitana cond. Jaroslav Krček [Naxos 8.550386]
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