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8.572383 - Takako Nishizaki Plays Suzuki Evergreens, Vol. 6

Takako Nishizaki plays
Suzuki Evergreens • Volume 6


The sixth volume of the Takako Nishizaki Plays Suzuki Evergreens starts with a transcription of the third movement Minuetto from Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, K 421. In 1781 Mozart had settled in Vienna, in independence of his former patron, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and, less happily, no longer under the watchful eye of his father, Leopold Mozart. His father, however, was able to hear, with some pride, during a visit to Vienna, some of the new quartets that his son had dedicated to Joseph Haydn. The Minuet itself has tragic implications, dispelled by the lively rhythm of the D major Trio that it frames, accompanied in the original version by the plucked notes of second violin, viola and cello.

Among the first composers to use the term concerto grosso to indicate the whole composition rather than one group of players was Arcangelo Corelli. Born in Fusignano in 1652, he had had early training as a violinist in Bologna and in 1675 settled in Rome, where he enjoyed the patronage and protection of Cardinal Pamphili, a close contemporary. For him and for many of his contemporaries the concerto grosso was a development of the trio sonata, a composition in several movements for two melody instruments, a bass instrument such as the cello or bass viol and a chordal instrument such as the harpsichord, the last two providing what had come to be known as the basso continuo.

In 1712, the year before his death, Corelli published a set of twelve concerti grossi, works that had been heard by others over the years. Some of these are in the form of dance suites, derived from the sonata da camera (chamber sonata). The Courante (Corrente) here transcribed is taken from Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 9, in which the melody is carried throughout by the the first violin, in music marked Vivace.

There is something paradoxical about Handel’s career. German by birth, he was invited to England as a composer of Italian opera and in the later years of his life created the English oratorio. George Frideric Handel was born in Halle in 1685, the son of a well-to-do barber-surgeon by his second wife. His early interest in music was discouraged by his father, but after the latter’s death and a short period at Halle University, he left to devote himself fully to music, at first as harpsichordist and then as a composer at the Hamburg Opera. From there he moved in 1706 to Italy, the source from which his musical style derived, and remained there for some five years, winning success with patrons and in the opera-house. A meeting in Venice with Baron Kielmansegge, Master of Horse to the Elector of Hanover, led to Handel’s appointment as Kapellmeister to the Elector, from whom he sought immediate leave to visit London for the staging of his opera Rinaldo. Although he returned to Hanover in due course, by 1713 he was again in London, his home for the rest of his life.

The violin sonatas attributed to Handel were published in London in about 1730 with the false imprint of Roger of Amsterdam, but in fact by Thomas Walsh, who soon went on to publish the sonatas under his own imprint. They are described as Opus 1 and include twelve sonatas for treble instrument and continuo, with the Sonata in A major as Op. 1, No. 3. It follows the usual pattern of Handel’s sonatas, the opening slow movement followed by an Allegro, a second slow movement, here a brief interlude in F sharp minor, and a final movement in compound time, suggesting the final gigue of a dance suite.

Johann Sebastian Bach belonged to a dynasty of German musicians. His early career had been as an organist, before his appointment to the court of Anhalt-Cöthen in 1717 in the service of the musically ambitious young Prince Leopold. It was at Cöthen that Bach wrote much of his instrumental music, including concertos for various instruments. Some of these he later arranged as concertos for one or more harpsichords, after he had taken up residence in Leipzig as Cantor at the Choir School of St Thomas, but with later charge of the University Collegium Musicum. Three violin concertos by Bach survive in their original form. The first of these is the Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041. Here, as elsewhere, Bach reflects the influence of the Venetian composer Vivaldi on the development of the solo concerto. In the full orchestral version, scored for an accompanying string orchestra, the solo violin joins the orchestra in tutti passages, with the central slow movement taken at a marginally faster speed, with its aria for the soloist. The concerto ends with the expected movement in compound metre.

It was also at Cöthen that Bach wrote his six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, the first four possibly for the cellist and viola da gamba player Abel, a colleague in the Cöthen court orchestra. The Gigue and Courante here included are transcriptions of movements from Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007, moved into D major for the violin. The Gigue is the last movement of the Suite, and the Courante, which duly follows an Allemande in the original work, is the third movement.

Volume 7 ends with a movement from Corelli’s Sonata in D major, Op. 5, No. 1, the first of a set of twelve sonatas published in Rome in 1700 with a dedication to Princess Sophie Charlotte of Hanover. The Allegro, in rapid semiquavers throughout, was originally to be accompanied by basso continuo, represented by the discreet accompaniment of the piano.

Keith Anderson

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