Albuquerque Baroque Players

7:30 p. m., Saturday, 17 Nov. 2007, at Los Altos Christian Church

3 p. m., Sunday, 18 Nov. 2007, at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church, Corrales

Sonata in Four Movements, Concert II: Vivace

Sonata settima a due........................................................................................................... Dario Castello (fl. early 17 th c.)
Allegro
Adagio
Allegro
[untitled]--Allegro—[untitled]—Allegro
Adagio—Allegro

violin, viola da gamba, basso continuo

Two Sonatas in D major, K. 490 and K. 492............................................................................... Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Cantabile
Presto

harpsichord

Trio Sonata in D major, op. 2/8.................................................................................................... Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764)
Adagio
Allegro
Sarabanda: Largo
Allegro assai

violin, viola da gamba, basso continuo

*****intermission*****

Sonata in D major, from Der getreue Music-Meister ........................................................Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Andante
Vivace
Recitativ—Arioso: Andante
Vivace

viola da gamba

Assaggio in G major............................................................................................................. Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758)
[untitled]
Largo
[untitled]

violin

Trio Sonata in G minor.................................................................................................................................................... Telemann
Vivace
Cantabile
Vivace—Doucement—Vivace

violin, viola da gamba, basso continuo

Program Notes

Vivace: lively, animated, spirited—whence our word vivacious. Note that there’s no mention of tempo. Indeed, most of the descriptive words employed in the 17 th and early 18 th centuries that later became associated with tempo had more to do with character than with speed. The word “vivace,” in fact, implied only a moderately quick pace. By the late Baroque era, it had acquired conventional applications in instrumental music and was often seen, for example, at the head of the second or fourth movement of a church sonata, or the first or third movement of the more modern chamber sonata. Before that time, composers used the term unsystematically, usually for short sections within a larger piece.

Each of the composers represented on our program was or is associated with lively performance. Castello’s music typically includes areas of frenzied activity and pile-ups of brief, forward-moving motives. Scarlatti has, justly or not, become associated with wide leaps, hand-crossings, and, in general, the exuberance of sheer physical display. When he chose to, Leclair could replicate the verve of the Italian style he had studied, and Telemann could do the same. Perhaps Roman, too, in a more modest fashion, shows animation in his tendency to combine and recombine a variety of note values.

Dario Castello, about whom we know little, was appointed leader of the wind ensemble at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice in 1621. He must have performed in Monteverdi’s sacred concertos (vocal pieces, usually with instruments), since Monteverdi was the chapelmaster there. If Castello didn’t know it already, surely he learned the stile moderno, all the rage in early 17 th-century Italy, from Monteverdi’s music. This new style is sometimes called the stylus phantasticus because of its unpredictable twists and turns. In the 1620s, Castello published two collections of such music for a variety of instrumental groupings and then was silent, though he may have lived past the mid-century mark. Our selection for this program isn’t as noisy as some Castello sonatas we’ve performed in previous concerts, nor is it as technically challenging. It nonetheless demonstrates Castello’s alternately lively and recitative-like style well.

Domenico Scarlatti, son of the great opera and church music composer Alessandro Scarlatti, escaped following in his authoritarian father’s musical footsteps by obtaining a post in 1719 with the royal family in Portugal. He’d already shown his talent as a harpsichordist and probably had examples of his keyboard writing hidden in his portfolio, but subsequently, his style was strongly marked by acquaintance with Iberian popular idioms. When one of his pupils, Maria Barbara, married into the Spanish royal family, Scarlatti accompanied her to Spain and lived there the rest of his life. There are well over 500 extant harpsichord sonatas, many deemed to have been composed in pairs and a few in trilogies, including K. 490 and K. 492. (On this program, K. 491 will be omitted, for no reason except that the other two make a successful set alone.) All are in binary form. Some of the Spanish influences can be pinpointed, while others seem to be more general, related to guitar techniques and dance rhythms. K. (for Ralph Kirkpatrick, who catalogued and performed Scarlatti’s sonatas) 490 has been labeled a saeta, an improvised street song chanted over a recurring drumbeat during Holy Week processions in Seville. You’ll hear both the “improvisation” and the drum. K. 492 has been termed a bulerias, which is a dance type. Jane Clark, an English researcher and harpsichordist, has called Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas of this period “Andalucian music in the raw.”

Jean-Marie Leclair, of French parentage but heavily indebted to his Corelli-inspired teacher, followed François Couperin in marketing the style of the goûts réunis, a judicious association of French restraint and Italian vigor. He was known as “the French Corelli.” Like Corelli, he left a rather small output, yet the music was so important that Leclair is considered the leader of the French violin school. Our selection, from 1728, was rewritten for two violins and continuo as part of his last published collection, op. 13, in 1753. In its original version, the treble part may be performed on either violin or flute. In its rewritten version, it follows an ouverture and thus more completely exemplifies the mixture of French and Italian elements. Leclair’s somewhat ragged career, featuring quarrels, lost positions, a separation from his wife, and his murder by an unknown assailant, didn’t lessen the great influence his music exerted throughout the 18 th century.

The music of Georg Philipp Telemann should be familiar by now to our audiences, for we love it and love to perform it. No matter how much of it we play, however, there will always be more, for Telemann wrote hundreds of chamber pieces. His music was well-known across Europe, and he was very famous. A man of his time, Telemann was not only a church musician, opera composer, composer of music for court and salon, and keyboardist, but also a champion of music for amateurs. (Keep in mind that the term “musical amateur,” according to its derivation, means a lover of music and not necessarily an inept performer!) Telemann published several collections specifically for amateurs at various levels of proficiency, and some of them came out as periodicals. Such was the nature of the Der getreue Music-Meister of 1728-29, in which the sonata for solo viola da gamba straddled biweekly issues #15-16. Telemann remained curious and alert to new trends into his old age, and he was aware of folk and popular musics as well, as shown in the last piece on our program. In three movements rather than four, it’s a new type of sonata—a chamber sonata, as it was sometimes called—but it’s not dominated by dances as is the older chamber sonata, or suite. Moreover, its final movement speaks of a world outside of church, court, and theatre. The style of this piece marks the coming of a new age.

So does the musical style of Johan Helmich Roman. Little-known outside of Sweden, Roman is probably no longer a major figure even there. Yet during his lifetime he was considered “the father of Swedish music” and “the Swedish Handel.” He’d met and admired Handel, as it happens, as well as Geminiani and Pepusch and undoubtedly others, when he abandoned Sweden for England in the 1710s. Upon his return home, he worked as violinist and oboist and leader in the Swedish Royal Orchestra, composing a broad range of pieces, sacred and secular, instrumental and vocal, large and small. One of his cherished goals was to import good European music into Sweden, music for which he organized performances and whose styles he sometimes deliberately imitated. He also worked on translating music treatises into Swedish. Most of Roman’s music exhibits certain galant characteristics: two-bar phrases, a regular rhythmic pulse under irregular groupings, a multitude of motivic ideas in any piece or movement, homophonic texture, and an unassuming manner. Among his compositions of the 1730s is a series of quite inventive drafts, possibly for a project that never came to fruition. These are the assaggi for solo violin. The opening of the assaggio on our program seems to be missing, so our violinist has devised a graceful way to begin it. In later life, Roman was afflicted with increasing deafness, and he became a victim of court intrigues, which finally induced him leave Stockholm.

“Vivace” is only part of the musical makeup of a good piece, just as it’s only part of our 2007-2008 concert season. In early February 2008, we’ll present our third “movement,” and you can be sure that it won’t be entirely “grave,” or serious, as there will be two violinists on stage as colleagues and contenders!