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2.110326 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - TUSCANY: A Musical Tour of Montecatini and Neighbouring Towns (NTSC)
A Musical Visit to Montecatini and Neighbouring Towns in Tuscany
The leading Italian spa resort Montecatini Terme has at its heart the Stabilimento del Tettuccio, where people gather to take the waters. There has been a spa here since the 14th century and the waters can be applied externally or internally.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in F major for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 434, Op 10, No 5 – I. Allegro ma non tanto
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 Concerto in F major, RV 434, is related to a similar concerto by Vivaldi, scored for recorder.
Murals at the Stabilimento del Tettuccio illustrate the effects of the waters on male and female, young and old.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in F major for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 434, Op 10, No 5 – II. Largo cantabile
The slow movement of the concerto, an aria for flute, lightly accompanied, is a G minor version of the aria Se lascio d’adorare and an aria in the opera La Virtù Trionfante dell’Amore e dell’Odio, staged in 1724. It is also used as a slow movement for the Concerto in F major, RV 442, for treble recorder.
The Stabilimento del Tettuccio provides pools for bathing and decorative fountains, notably a conch-shaped pool, ornamented with sculpted marine creatures.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in F major for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 434, Op 10, No 5 – III. Allegro molto
The concerto ends with a lively final Allegro.
The Stabilimento del Tettuccio offers an open courtyard, chairs, and tables, and taps of flowing spring water, seen in front of the murals that decorate the place.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 108: I. Allegro molto
Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto in A minor, RV 108, was written between 1720 and 1724. It is scored for solo flute, two violins and basso continuo, cello and harpsichord.
The reception hall of the Stabilimento del Tettuccio is elaborately decorated in art nouveau style. The spa was established in this form in the 18th century, and the building reconstructed in 1916 by the architect Ugo Giovannozzi.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 108: II. Largo – Andante
The slow movement starts with a wide-spaced figure for the violins, before the entry of the flute, with its aria.
The murals suggest the benefits of the waters for infants, adolescents and the old, proclaiming its effects on strength, maturity and health. The surrounding park is planted with cedars of Lebanon, palms, sequoia, acacia, laurels, pines and other trees and bushes.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 108 – III. Allegro
The concerto ends with a rapid final Allegro.
Something of the scale of the principal spa establishment can be seen, with its Roman columns and revived classical architecture.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Two Flutes, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 533 – I. Allegro molto
The Concerto for Two Flutes in C major, RV 533, is one of a score of such works, written for pairs of similar or contrasting solo instruments. It was written before the end of 1730 and is clearly scored for two transverse flutes rather than recorders.
From the park, with its various trees, the old town above can be seen, in the light of autumn.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Two Flutes, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 533 – II. Largo
The slow movement is scored for the two solo flutes and basso continuo of cello and harpsichord.
A funicular, built in 1889, climbs from the spa park up to Valdiniévole, otherwise known as Montecatini Alto.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Two Flutes, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 533 – III. (Allegro)
The rest of the strings return to accompany the two flutes in the last movement of the concerto.
Some 35 miles away from Montecatini is the ancient hill town of Buggiano, with its church and traditional buildings.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 443 – I. (Allegro)
Vivaldi wrote three concertos for the flautino, a small flute of some kind, either a transverse flute, the modern piccolo, or the sopranino recorder. Whatever the identity of the solo instrument it is here faced by formidable technical demands.
The church at Buggiano retains strong traces of its Romanesque origin.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 443 – II. Largo
The E minor slow movement of the concerto is in the dotted rhythm of a Siciliano.
Sommocolonia suffered considerable damage in the war, after which much of it was rebuilt. The hill-top town occupies a dominant strategic position, overlooking the surrounding countryside.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 443 – III. Allegro molto
The piccolo includes an effective cadenza in its course, as it brings the concerto to an end.
Hot Springs, Saturnia
The Terme di Saturnia, near Pitigliano in Tuscany, has hot springs that have attracted increasing numbers of visitors, keen to bathe in the fast-flowing warm waters.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 443 – I. Allegro non molto
The second of Vivaldi’s three concertos for flautino continues to make technical demands on the agility of the soloist.
Hot Springs, Bagno Vignoni
On a much smaller scale than Montecatini, Bagno Vignoni, not too far from Montepulciano, owes its bathing pool to the Medici.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 444 – II. Largo
The concerto continues with an A minor slow movement for the solo instrument, accompanied by a characteristic figuration for the violins.
Hot Springs, Bagni San Filippo
The Hot Springs of Bagni San Filippo have a long history, providing therapeutic effects in the Middle Ages to a number of distinguished visitors. In the province of Siena, the thermal baths are adjacent to Monte Amiata, and are distinguished by the calcareous deposit that gives the surrounding rocks their white colouring.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in C major for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 444 – III. Allegro molto
The final movement of the concerto continues to make demands on the agility and dexterity of the soloist.
Horses and cattle are bred in the land about Spergolaia, near Grosseto, the Maremma, a region that was once plagued by malarial swamps, now drained.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 445 – I. Allegro
The third of the concertos for flautino continues to call for extreme dexterity from the soloist, who must handle rapid arpeggios and arpeggiated figuration.
Marina di Pisa
Fishermen can be seen at work at Marina di Pisa, which lies at the mouth of the River Arno. It is surrounded by woodland, and notably by pines that are a source of pine nuts.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 445 – II. Larghetto
The slow movement is again an aria for the solo instrument..
Castiglione della Pescaia
Castiglione della Pescaia is the principal town of the Maremma, built on an ancient Roman site. Its fish-market offers rich variety.
Music Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor for Piccolo, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV 445 – III. (Allegro)
The concerto ends with a demanding final movement.
‘Famous Flute Concerti’: Jiří Válek, Jiří Novotný, flutes; Jiří Stivin, piccolo; Capella Istropolitana, cond. Oliver Dohnányi [Naxos 8.550385]
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