Baroque Music for the Violin
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5 BACH: Concerto for 3 Violins and Orchestra,
8 BONPORTI: Recitativo from Concerto a 4, Op11/5
9 TELEMANN: Concerto in e minor for 2 Violins & Orchestra
Total time 77:20
We open our disc, appropriately, with a virtuoso piece for solo violin, the Preludio from one of Bach's three Partitas for Solo Violin. Bach liked to push the limits of performance in his compositions, and his Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin are no exception, stretching performers to their limits of digital dexterity. This brilliant Prelude was later used by Bach as the Sinfonia to Cantata 29, now re-scored for Organ and Orchestra.
The violin quickly became the favourite solo instrument for use in concertos, largely thanks to Vivaldi who, himself a brilliant violinist by all accounts, produced a number of violin concertos for use by his young-lady pupils in the Venice Ospidale where he was based for most of his working life. Though it should be added that Vivaldi produced concertos featuring almost every other baroque instrument available! Though favouring brilliant fast movements, Vivaldi could also be quite lyrical in his slow movements, as illustrated by our Sonata in A, Op 2/2 for Violin & Organ. Indeed the violin is very much at home in the 'soulful' adagio movements, as illustrated in two Adagios, by Veracini and Bonporti.
Born in Magdeburg in 1681, Georg Philipp Telemann would compete for fame, in Germany at least, with JS Bach. Indeed their lives crossed paths frequently. The two were in competition for the post of Cantor of the Leipzig Thomaskirche. Telemann also founded the Leipzig Collegium Musicum which Bach would later direct, and would become Godfather to Bach's son, Carl Philipp Emanuel. Telemann also retained a great friendship with Handel, who would jokingly relate that Telemann "could write a church piece in eight parts with the same expedition another would write a letter". We offer two concertos by Telemann, for one, and two violins with orchestra.
The Italian composer and violinist Pietro Antonio Locatelli was born in Bergamo in 1695. A child prodigy on the violin, he was sent to study in Rome under the direction of Corelli, or more probably with Valentini. He won a reputation as a violin virtuoso, performing in Italy, in Bavaria and in Berlin. Our disc presents the second concerto from Opus 1 (1721) consisting of 12 Concerti Grossi.
The centerpiece of our program is a concerto for three violins and orchestra. In 1729 and in addition to his church duties as Cantor to the City of Leipzig, Bach took over directorship of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, a group of the city's most talented musicians who gave regular weekly concerts. As well as his own works, Bach also presented works by Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, Locatelli, Albinoni and others. It was doubtless here that Bach's concerti for one or several harpsichords received their performances, many having been adapted from earlier (possibly violin) concertos, or from concertos by other composers (eg Vivaldi). Bach's Concerto for Three Claviers and Orchestra, BWV 1064 is presumed to have been adapted from a work for three violins, and the work heard on our disc is an attempted reconstruction. Though an original has not been established, internal evidence suggests a composition by Bach himself. During his time at the C÷then Court (1717-23) Bach produced several virtuosic violin compositions, solo works and sonatas. Soloists in a Concerto for Three Violins would have been Bach himself, perhaps the famous Dresden violinist Pisendel on a visit, and either Joseph Spiess, Leader of the Court Capelle who had been brought from Berlin, or even the music-loving Prince, who achieved competence on the harpsichord, viola and violin.