Vivaldi – Piccolo Concerto in C major, RV 443 – Il Giardino Armonico

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Vivaldi is known today among music lovers and the general public for his four violin concertos, the ‘Four Seasons.’  He also composed sacred and secular vocal music, about 50 operas, several sonatas for various instruments, and 550 concertos (more than half of them are written for the violin).

The Concerto in C Major, RV 443 is often referred to as a concerto for piccolo because the first edition of the concerto referred to the piece as a piccolo concerto. The concerto has been performed on the piccolo but it is most often performed on a recorder. Vivaldi originally wrote the concerto for the flautino (a small flute that is a baroque cousin of the recorder).

Giovanni Antonini (recorder soloist)

Giovanni Antonini is an Italian conductor, recorder and transverse flute soloist.  He is one of the leading period instrument performers.  In 1985 he founded the early music ensemble Il Giardino Armonico with Luca Pianca, a Swiss lutenist.

Here is a recording of Giovanni Antonini on a sopranino recorder (the highest pitched instrument of the recorder family) performing Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major, RV443 with the early music ensemble, Il Giardino Armonico.  Enjoy!

 

 

Francesco Antonio Bonporti Cinque Concerti a Quatro Op.XI, I Virtuosi Italiani

Francesco Antonio Bonporti (1672-1749)

Bonporti was an Italian baroque composer.  Many of his works have been lost.  Bonporti himself published 12 sets of his works (most of these works were solo and trio sonatas).  His musical style was inspired by that of Arcangelo Corelli (a virtuoso violinist and composer whom Bonporti may have studied with).  Bonporti’s music is notable for its imaginative harmonies, unusual focus to melodic detail, and it is full of lively interplay between the instruments in fast movements.  Bonporti’s inventions for solo violin and continuo were a favourite of J.S. Bach.  Bach copied out at least four or them.  For a long time the pieces that Bach copied were thought to have been composed by him.  The latest musicological research shows that the four inventions found in Bach’s hand are actually by Francesco Antonio Bonporti.

The link on this post is a recording by an early music ensemble called I Virtuosi Italiani.  They are playing some concertos by Bonporti written for a quartet of string instruments with keyboard continuo.

 

Johann Schobert – Piano Concerto

Johann Schobert (c.1735-1767) was a harpsichordist, fortepianist, and composer. He was an important influence on the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart borrowed melodies from movements of Schobert’s harpsichord sonatas and used them in some of his earliest piano concertos. He also borrowed other musical ideas from Schobert and built on those ideas in his earliest piano sonatas.

Here is a recording of Johann Schobert’s Piano Concerto in G major.

Vivaldi Concerto con molti istromenti in C major, RV558

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was an Italian composer and violin virtuoso.  Today he is best known as the composer of 4 violin concertos called the Four Seasons.

Vivaldi composed around 550 concertos.  About 350 of his concertos are for a solo instrument, and of those roughly 230 are violin concertos.  Vivaldi also composed some interesting concertos for multiple solo instruments with orchestra (about 30), and nearly 60 concertos for orchestra without a solo instrument (the orchestra is the solo instrument).

Here is a recording of one of Vivaldi’s concertos for diverse instruments (a concerto for multiple instruments) played by the famous baroque ensemble Europa Galante.  It  is full of rhythmic drive and it is lively.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Vivaldi Concerto with multiple instruments:

Reinecke Harp Concerto (Fabrice Pierre, harp)

The harp is a beautiful instrument that for some strange reason does not have much of a repertoire.  Most pieces I have heard played on the harp were arrangements of piano music (Debussy’s Claire de Lune played on the harp is an example).

Here is a concerto written for the harp by the German composer, conductor, and pianist Carl Reinecke (1824-1910).  It is quite a robust and joyful piece and the orchestral part supports the harp very well without overpowering it.

This is a recording done by Fabrice Pierre and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Patrick Gallois. You can buy the recording on eMusic. Enjoy!

Scriabin Piano concerto

Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was a Russian composer and piano virtuoso.  His early compositional style was influenced by Chopin and Tchaikovsky.  The early compositions are very lyrical and even though they are more modern than Chopin and Tchaikovsky, they sometimes sound a bit like Chopin or Tchaikovsky.

Later on in his career, Scriabin’s compositions became gradually more dissonant and abstract.  Rhythmically the music became more complex.  Scriabin also had very big hands (like Rachmaninoff) and could stretch his hands a great distance across the keyboard.  His compositions continue to be very challenging for pianists.

Here is a recording of his Piano Concerto op.20.  This is an early work of Scriabin.  It was written in 1896 when the composer was 24 years old.  It is the first and only piece he wrote for orchestra, and his only concerto. Vladimir Ashkenazy is the piano soloist.

first movement

second movement

first half of third movement

second and final half of third movement

 

 

Joseph Boulogne – Violin Concertos

Joseph Boulogne (1745-1799), was a black violin virtuoso, swordsman, equestrian, composer and conductor who was an important musical figure in Paris during the second half of the eighteenth century.  He wrote music similar in style to his contemporaries W.A. Mozart and J. Haydn.  He was also known as le Chevalier de Saint-Georges.  Marie-Antoinette was very fond of his music.

Here is a recording of Joseph Boulogne’s Violin Concerto in D Major.  It is performed by the renowned early music ensemble Tafelmusik.  The violin soloist is Linda Melsted. This recording is from a DVD and CD set entitled “Le Mozart Noir, The Life and Music of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint Georges.” The first audio file is the first movement of the concerto.  The second audio file is the 2nd and 3rd movements of the concerto.