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Siete qui: Home Festival Festival 2009 Baroque Concerto and profane Cantata: the supremacy of Italian style in the Eighteenth century
Baroque Concerto and profane Cantata: the supremacy of Italian style in the Eighteenth century PDF Print E-mail

by Federico Scoponi

The most precious legacy left by the musical genius of Vivaldi is undoubtedly one of his instrumental scores, born in a positive comingling between creative instinct and quality crafts, reaching the Concerto’s climax in originality and of formal organization. In his monumental catalogue there are 478 Concertos, and among them the Concerto for per violin and cello RV 547 is one of the 79 scores for two or more obbligati (soloist) instruments, string orchestra and basso continuo. The eclectic linguistic synthesis accomplished by Vivaldi in the establishment of the definitive supremacy of a form in three movements (generally Allegro/Adagio – Andante, in this case – /Allegro) is realized here with extreme ease and expressive intensity in the relation between soloists and orchestra. The liberty of style and the lyrical character of the central movement create great contrast with the rhythmical vivacity of the quick movements, whose formal origin is characterized by a theme repeated by the orchestra. The soloists, at the same time, in a sensual and continuous interaction, challenge their own technical means, initially repeating thematic elements, then introducing important variations, with the cello echoing the arabesques of the violin. In this way, thanks to the experimentations and to his original concept of style, Vivaldi establishes a musical form that is destined to rule, with only slight modifications, during the entire Eighteenth century, remaining almost unchanged until Beethoven’s times. It had been readily assimilated also by J. S. Bach, who will express his appreciation for Vivaldi writing at least six Concertos for organ or harpsichord. And precisely the harpsichord will be designed by Bach to play in a new role; the instrument finally free from being only an accompanist. It will become the soloist in an orchestral context, privilege assigned for the first time in the Concertos written (or better re-written arranging previous works) in Leipzig between 1727 and 1736 circa. Among these scores there is BWV 1055, whose original version, gone lost, was for an unusual oboe d’amore. Divided in three movements in Vivaldi’s style, while developing exquisitely both composition and performance technique of his own instrument, Bach uses rich idiomatic ornaments – given often to the left hand – alternating the brilliant character of A major during first and last movements to the emotional F sharp minor of the central Larghetto in a constant and shiny combination of sensual melodic figures and pulsing sparkling rhythms.
Instead, in vocal field, the choice of the subject (love), the pastoral atmosphere and the variety of the different expressive models of the chamber Cantata for solo voice are profoundly Italian. This form had been so popular that the young G. F. Händel had travelled to Italy (1706-10) to assimilate a live lesson about the style and taste that dominated European music. In particular, in Italy there were masters such as A. Corelli and the two Scarlatti. The two Cantatas in program are part of the twenty for solo voice, accompanied by ensembles of instruments (with different organics) composed for churchmen or Roman nobles as Marchese Ruspoli and Cardinals Pamphili and Ottoboni; they are among the first works written by Händel in Roma. Tu fedel? Tu costante? (for two violins and continuo) is formally simple since the brief opening in Sonata form and presents the evolution of thoughts and the quick emotional crescendo of the protagonist, in a regular series of 4 recitativi and 4 arias. The impressive and generous representation of contrasting affetti (feelings) in Delirio amoroso (text by Pamphili) almost becomes an Opera in miniature, thanks to its dimensions and structural complexity. It is introduced by an ample Symphony in three movements, in which the twenty-two-year-old musician flaunts a singular dramatic ability in the refined choice of the instruments (oboe, flute, 3 violins, viola, cello and continuo), and has an extraordinary force in the dialogue between voice, able to exploit the text’s opportunities, and instruments, showing his immense potentials and creative intelligence as “Italian” opera composer.