the use of vibrato in baroque performance

A prominent feature of string playing in today's "authentic" performances is the almost total absence of vibrato, resulting in a flat, plaintive and lifeless tone. It seems quite unclear as to where this aspect of "authenticity" derived from, since much evidence supports quite the contrary view.

A star pupil of Corelli, Geminiani moved from Naples to London in 1714 and was to become the most important Italian violin virtuoso resident in Britain, also teacher, composer and the author of an immensely influential treatise addressed to advanced players, The Art of Playing on the Violin (1751). He advocated the use of vibrato 'as often as possible', and the expressiveness of his playing was much admired by both Hawkins and Burney.

Vibrato was also well known and much valued during baroque times in its application on the clavichord, known in German as Bebung. The depression of the key strikes the string directly thus permitting variation of touch (hard/soft), as well as a form of vibrato achieved by moving the key gently from side to side.

There are also many references in baroque musical literature, both to the importance placed on warmth and vibrato in vocal performance, and to the ideal in violin playing of replicating the human voice.

The Baroque Music Site

       internet arton publications