Program Notes for 18 Feburary 2001

ALBUQUERQUE BAROQUE PLAYERS

Placitas Artists Series
3 p. m., Sunday, 18 February 2001
 
 

Sonata 9............................................................................................................Dario Castello (fl. early 17th c.)
  recorder, violin, viola da gamba, basso continuo
 
 

Suite #5 in d/D from Pièces de clavecin en concerts.................................Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
  violin, viola da gamba, harpsichord
 La Forqueray
 La Cupis
 La Marais
 
 

Trio Sonata #1...........................................................................................Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
  transcribed for recorder, violin, basso continuo
 [Allegro]
 Adagio
 Allegro
 
 

****intermission****
 
 

Suite #1 in c/C from The Broken Consort, part 2...........................................Matthew Locke (1621/22-1677)
  recorder, violin, basso continuo
 Pavan
 Ayre
 Courant
 Pavan
 Ayre
 Galliard
 
 

Quartet in g.............................................................................................Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
  oboe, violin, viola da gamba, basso continuo
 Lento
 Vivace
 Adagio
 Allegro
 
 

The Albuquerque Baroque Players are tuned to A=415 in the Valotti temperament.

Program Notes

We know very little about Dario Castello.  He was an Italian composer and wind player who worked in Venice, and he left only two collections of sonatas, both printed in the 1620s.  At that time, the term "sonata" meant only that the music wasn't for voices, but rather for instruments, which were sometimes named and sometimes left to the discretion of the performers.  Unlike some of his more forward-looking contemporaries, Castello tended to prefer the rhythmic thrust of thematic materials typical of the waning Renaissance to the more expressive and chromatic themes just becoming fashionable.  On the other hand, his pieces are divided into sections by changes in tempo and texture, a feature of much music in the coming Baroque age.
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One might say that Jean-Philippe Rameau had three musical careers.  When he first arrived in Paris from his native Dijon, he tried to prove himself by publishing several collections of harpsichord pieces.  Next he turned to theoretical treatises, portions of which today's music students are required to read as evidence of the move from modality to tonality in the 18th century.  Only when he reached 50 did he approach his final career, as a composer for the theatre, and he spent the last 30 years of his life furnishing operas, ballets, and other dramatic music to both court and town enterprises.
The Pièces de clavecin en concerts, then, are out of place in these three musical careers, for he wrote and published them in 1741.  Nineteen small dances and character pieces arranged in five suites by key, they are really harpsichord music, and, indeed, Rameau said they might be performed without other instruments.  If the two other parts are included, they may be played on—again, as Rameau said—flute and violin, two violins, or, as in our performance, violin and viola da gamba.  The fanciful titles often refer to the composer's acquaintances.  Here, "La Forqueray" derives its title from Rameau's compatriot, the composer and gambist Antoine Forqueray.  The other two pieces are named for children of Rameau's friends, including another gambist, Marin Marais (no longer living by 1741).
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Johann Sebastian Bach's six trio sonatas for organ must have been composed for his own pleasure and performance.  Normally, a Baroque trio sonata is a piece for two solo instruments and basso continuo.  These demanding trios, though, were for only one person, whose right and left hands become the solo parts, and whose feet play the continuo line.  Remember that Bach was well known as a virtuoso keyboardist!  Ironically, we are recreating one of these sonatas in a more normal arrangement, in which the recorder and violin will play the lines originally for the two hands of the organist, while the harpsichord and viol will realize the line originally for the feet.
****
Matthew Locke was raised in England during the turbulent times of the English Civil War.  Both Charles I and his heir Charles knew of him before he left for the Netherlands in the 1640s.  Upon his return to England, he took part in theatre collaborations, including the first English opera, now lost.  During the last years of the Commonwealth, he produced several notable collections of chamber music, one of which provides us with our selection.  Locke's chamber music was and is held in high esteem for its intensity of expression, exhibited in angular melodic lines, harmonic clashes and dissonances, implied changes in tempo and dynamics, and subtle motivic development.  The Suite in c/C is considered Locke's most beautiful and mature chamber piece.
With the Restoration in 1660, Locke worked at court.  Apparently the preference of the monarch for simple toe-tapping dance tunes did not much challenge him, and the quality of his music diminished.
****
Georg Philipp Telemann was one of the most prolific composers of any era, and he did not attain this distinction by re-using his own or others' music, as did both Bach and Handel.  Moreover, he was an open and curious person into old age, and he kept up with the times.  He excelled in vocal and instrumental music, church and theatre and chamber music, and he mastered both the older-style learned counterpoint and the more modern reliance on attractive melodies.
Among Telemann's chamber pieces are, to be sure, some fine sonatas and trio sonatas.  But his quartets are  outstanding.  In our selection, the relationship of the three solo instruments constantly changes:  one or another of the instruments may be highlighted, or they may work as a cohesive group.  Telemann must have had his little jokes, too, as in the final movement, where the viol must play ridiculously fast passages that no one can possibly hear clearly.
 

And Our Guest

Art Sheinberg, a native New Mexican, holds undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of New Mexico, where he concentrated in music education, cello, and string bass.  He has been an orchestra teacher in the Albuquerque Public Schools for many years.  He plays Medieval and Renaissance strings, including viola da gamba, with Música Antigua de Albuquerque, of which he was a founding member.

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