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Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741): "Sonate da camera a tre, opus 1"


rec: Nov 2010, Crema, Studio Giardino
Nave - OP 30535 ( 2012) (73'56")
Liner-notes: E/F/I
Cover & track-list

Sonata in g minor, op. 1,1 (RV 73); Sonata in C, op. 1,3 (RV 61); Sonata in E, op. 1,4 (RV 66); Sonata in E flat, op. 1,7 (RV 65); Sonata in d minor, op. 1,8 (RV 64); Sonata in A, op. 1,9 (RV 75); Sonata in B flat, op. 1,10 (RV 78); Sonata in b minor, op. 1,11 (RV 79); Sonata in d minor, op. 1,12 'Follia' (RV 63)

Stefano Montanari, Stefano Rossi, violin; Francesco Galligioni, cello; Maurizio Salerno, organ; with: Franco Pavan, theorbo; Pietro Pasquini, organ

The trio sonata came into existence in the second half of the 17th century and found its first pinnacle in the oeuvre of Arcangelo Corelli. His four collections of trio sonatas found wide dissemination in Italy and across Europe. The young Vivaldi couldn't ignore this form and that resulted in the twelve trio sonatas op. 1. These are about half of his total output in this genre. The fact that the number of trio sonatas from his pen is relatively small can probably be explained by the trio sonata being first and foremost an ensemble effort, whereas Vivaldi seems to have had a strong preference for virtuosity. This he could more easily explore in solo sonatas and concertos. This feature turns up now and then in these trio sonatas as well, though. The relationship between the two violins can differ from one sonata to the other. The sonatas VII and X which we find at the end of this disc are good illustrations: in the latter they are treated on strictly equal terms, whereas the former is almost a solo sonata in which the first violin dominates.

The op. 1 was published in Venice in 1705, but it is assumed that this was a reprint of a lost edition from 1703 or earlier. For performances the edition of 1715 by Estienne Roger in Amsterdam is used as only the first violin part of the 1705 edition has been preserved. Corelli divided his collections of trio sonatas equally between the da chiesa and the da camera type. Vivaldi opted for the latter in his only major collection. They comprise mostly - although not exclusively - dance movements, usually preceded by a preludio. A fugal movement, which allowed the composer to show his skills in counterpoint, were not part of sonate da camera. That doesn't exclude the inclusion of movements of a strongly contrapuntal character as this collection shows. The Sonata X which I have already mentioned, is just one example.

The interpretation by L'Estravagante is rather individualistic which is appropriate in Vivaldi's music which is anything but mainstream. These performances are exuberant, colourful and dramatic. The contrasts between and within single sonatas are perfectly captured. There is no restraint in the addition of ornamentation: the very first episode in the variations on La Follia which open this disc bears witness to that. Sometimes the artists are on the verge of exaggeration, but they mostly stay within the boundaries of good taste. Only at some moment in La Follia I thought them going a bit too far.

It is mostly not quite clear what kind of scoring the composers preferred for the basso continuo. In the booklet it is mentioned that the title indicates "violone" - which is generally interpreted as cello - or harpsichord. A reissue of this collection by Estienne Roger, however, contains a double part for organo e violoncello. This is an indication of the rather pragmatic approach in this department. It seems advisable to be just as pragmatic in modern performances. However, I can't find any reasons to change the scoring within a single sonata, especially from harpsichord to organ and vice versa. That is practised in many recordings, and this one is no exception.

The title page suggests that we get the complete op. 1 here, but that is not the case. I assume that the remaining four sonatas will be recorded in the near future, probably together with the sonatas for one and two violins which were printed as op. 5 in 1716. Let us hope so.

Johan van Veen ( 2013)

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