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8.553447 - Italian Baroque Favourites
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Italian Baroque Favourites

Italian Baroque Favourites


Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700/01 -1775)

Sinfonia in A major


Francesco Geminiani (1687 -1762)

Concerto grosso in E minor, Op. 3, No.3


Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695- 1764)

Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 1, No.5


Giuseppe Torelli (1658 -1709)

Concerto grosso in G Minor, Op. 8, No.6


Arcangelo Corelli (1653 -1713)

Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 6 No.11


Francesco Geminiani

Concerto grosso in D minor, Op. 2, No.5


Francesco Onofrio Manfredini (1684 -1762)

Sinfonia No.10 in C major


Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni (1671 -1751)

Sonata a cinque in G minor, Op. 2, No.6


Pietro Antonio Locatelli

Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 1, No.9



The present collection of Italian Baroque favourites contains orchestral works that span some three quarters of a century, from the heyday of Corelli in Rome and Torelli in Bologna in the late seventeenth century, to the later activities of Sammartini in Milan. Giovanni Battista Sammartini was born at the beginning of the new century, probably in Milan, and it was there that he made his career. His importance lies in the fact that he belonged to the first generation of composers writing in the newly developing form of the symphony, a form that was to dominate European music as the century went on. 68 of his symphonies survive, often in collections outside Italy, confirming his international rather than local popularity in this respect. In style he represents a period of transition between the Baroque and the classical, exhibited in symphonies that in general are in the usual Italian three-movement form.


The earlier generation is heard in the Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 6, No.11 by the violinist and composer Arcangelo Corelli. Trained, it seems, in Bologna, Corelli made his career, one of considerable distinction, in Rome, at one time in the service of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had installed herself as one of Rome's leading patrons of the arts, and then serving in the musical establishment of Cardinal Pamphili and then of Cardinal Ottoboni, the young nephew of Pope Alexander VDI. His sonatas and concerti grossi served as a model for later generations. The set of twelve concerti grossi, published posthumously, but seemingly heard in Rome in the 16808, include compositions for church use or in 'church' form, Concerti da chiesa and chamber works, da camera, the latter lacking the formal contrapuntal content of the former, and generally consisting of a series of dance movements. The present concerto grosso, after a Preludio goes on to include the basic movements of a dance suite, Allemanda, Sarabanda and final Giga. The form of the concerto grosso, derived from the popular trio sonata, involved the contrast of a small group of players, the concertino, here two violins, cello and harpsichord, with the whole body of the string orchestra, the ripieno.


Five years younger than Corelli, Giuseppe Torelli was born in Verona in 1658 and in 1684 moved to Bologna, where he soon was able to join the musical establishment of the Basilica of San Petronio as a string player. After 1696, when the cappella of San Petronio was disbanded, he worked in Germany and in Vienna. By 1701 he was again in Bologna, serving in the revived San Petronio cappella. Torelli's concerti grossi, like those of Corelli, were published posthumously, in his case in 1709, but represent earlier work.


The next generation of composers here included may start with Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni, the son of a well-to-do paper merchant in Venice, where he was born in 1671. The comfortable circumstances into which he was born made it possible for him to avoid engaging in any immediate profession, although he came eventually to devote himself exclusively to music, avoiding participation in the family business after his father's death. His compositions include more than fifty operas, church music, secular cantatas and orchestral compositions. Ambiguity in titles, with the word sonata used in a more general sense than today, allows the inclusion of the Sonata a cinque among the Sei Sinfonie e sei concerti a cinque that form his Opus 2, published in Venice in 1700, at a time when Vivaldi, seven years his junior, was at the beginning of his career.


Francesco Onofrio Manfredini, born in Pistoia in 1684, was a violin pupil of Torelli in Bologna and a composition pupil of Perti, whose work Torelli did so much to promulgate. He was in Ferrara for some years, but returned in 1704 to rejoin the San Petronio musical establishment, where he had served until 1696. His employment in his native town of Pistoia is recorded in 1727, when he served as maestro di cappella at the Cathedral. His Sinfonie, in fact church sonatas in which there are sections for concertina soloists, were published in Bologna in 1709 and reflect the influence of his teacher Torelli.


A number of Italian musicians chose to make their careers in other countries. Pietro Antonio Locatelli, who later enjoyed a reputation to equal that of the demon violinist Paganini, was born in Bergamo in 1695, but studied in Rome, perhaps with Corelli but more probably with Valentini. He travelled as a virtuoso performer but in 1729 settled in Amsterdam, remaining there more or less continuously until his death in 1764. Here he associated with the publisher Le Cene and occupied himself largely with the work of gentlemen amateurs. Something of his virtuosity is evident in the 24 Caprices that form part of his Opus 3. He published his XII concerti grossi, Opus 1, in Amsterdam in 1721, but revised the set when he had moved there in 1729. His concerti grossi, although relying on the standard model of Corelli, differ by the inclusion of one or two violas in the concertino.


Born in Lucca in 1687, Francesco Geminiani was a pupil of Corelli in Rome and won a reputation as virtuoso violinist. It was in this capacity that he moved, in 1714, to London, where he enjoyed the patronage ofa number of the nobility, performing at court with Handel. Much of his later career centred on London, although he eventually settled in Dublin, where he died in 1762. His influence both on violin-playing and composition was considerable and he taught pupils who later achieved some fame, while his theoretical work, notably The Art of Playing on the Violin, has proved a useful source for present knowledge of mid-eighteenth century performance practice. Geminiani's Concerti grossi, Opus 2, were published in 1732, a set of six, followed in the same year by the Concerti grossi, Opus 3. Both sets use a concertino of two violins and basso continuo (bass instrument and keyboard) against the full string orchestra, while later concerti grossi by Geminiani respond to a presumed public demand by including the viola in the concertino.


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