The word concerto originally suggested rather cooperation than competition. Among the important forms of instrumental music that developed in the later seventeenth century is the concerto grosso, an instrumental composition in which a small group of soloists, generally two violins, cello and accompanying harpsichord, the concertino, are contrasted with the full string orchestra, the rank-and-file ripieno players, whose parts might be simpler. The Italian violinist and composer Arcangelo Corelli left, at his death in 1713, a set of twelve concerti grossi. Among these the so-called Christmas Concerto (Op. 6, No. 8), with an optional additional pastoral movement suggesting the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem when Christ was born. This concerto was written to be played on Christmas Eve.
Corelli: Concerti Grossi Op. 6, Nos. 7-12, played by the Capella Istropolitana conducted by Jaroslav Krchek. Naxos 8.550403. The Concerti Grossi Op. 6, Nos. 1-6, with the same players, are available on